Timber mill sale falls through

By Matthew Martin

About 130 people lost their jobs when Tachikawa owners couldn't afford to keep the operation running.
About 130 people lost their jobs when Tachikawa owners couldn't afford to keep the operation running.

A Te Arawa business collective will not pursue the purchase of failed timber mill Tachikawa, saying it would cost upward of $25 million to get it back up and running.

About 130 staff lost their jobs at Tachikawa Forest Products in October after its Japanese owner could not afford to continue the operation.

Receivers KordaMentha were called in to liquidate the business, or find a buyer to take it over.

Soon after the receivership was announced a collective of Te Arawa iwi stakeholders met to discuss buying the business.

The meeting was hosted by the Te Arawa Federation of Maori Authorities and included members of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Te Arawa Group Holdings (the commercial arm of Te Arawa treaty settlement organisation Te Pumautanga O Te Arawa Trust) and other trusts and corporations involved in forestry and primary sector industries.

Te Arawa Federation of Maori Authorities deputy chairman Te Taru White said the group had decided to withdraw from any future investigation into the purchase of the former Tachikawa mill operation.

"We have gone through all of the receiver's memorandums, invited some key industry experts around the table to help us in this process, people who knew the machinery and installed it, the bankers involved and those suppliers who had worked with Tachikawa for more than 20 years.

"After looking at all of this we were given a figure of more than $25 million to get it back to a satisfactory level of operation.

"Factors such as the exchange rate and heavy competition with places like Chile were also considered and from a business perspective we concluded it had zero value.

"We also looked at the land and the opportunity to return it to Te Arawa ownership."

Mr White said the group had always been mindful of the workers who lost their jobs.

"This started out as duty of care to those 129 workers, but the reality is it would cost far too much so we had to call it a day.

"We did tour the site and we are rather sad not to be able to do anything with it, especially when we think about those workers there," Mr White said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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