Even as the Government tightens the rules around mining and exporting swamp kauri, conservationists are calling for the Auditor General to conduct an independent inquiry into the industry.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced new measures on Monday to prevent habitats being damaged by extraction and ensuring all stages, including milling, manufacture or products and export, are monitored and recorded in an unbroken paper trail.
Dean Baigent-Mercer, Far North conservation advocate for Forest and Bird, said swamp kauri was one of the world's most expensive timbers and found almost exclusively under Northland wetlands.
"Hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of swamp kauri has been moved out of Northland in the past few years, yet the minister said it is only worth $25 million to the region," Mr Baigent-Mercer said.
"An independent inquiry by the Auditor General into MPI and Customs is now more necessary than ever."
The changes came after a ministerial inquiry into the existing laws, on the back of an increasing outcry about rules being flouted.
Conservationists, iwi and political parties have been vocal for years about habitats being destroyed by "swamp kauri cowboys", and the flow of raw millable timber exported under the guise of "stumps" or "artworks".
They have also accused NRC of "rubber-stamping" the destruction of wetlands that would be protected elsewhere in New Zealand.
Fiona Furrell, from the Northland Environmental Protection Society, said the changes did not address kauri passing through export loopholes.
"We need a law change to be explicit. That means ending the export of fake 'temple poles', dodgy 'Maori carvings', 'slabs' and 'stumplogs' as finished products," Ms Furrell said.
The region's politicians have also panned Mr Guy's changes, although they admit Northland's economy could benefit from a properly regulated, environmentally safe swamp kauri industry.
Northland MP Winston Peters (NZ First) has invited Mr Guy to slide his rear end along the rough-hewn slabs being called tabletops for export purposes.
"He, not the slabs, would be finished," Mr Peters said.
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis (Labour) said the change "won't make an iota of difference".