There's no reason why Rotorua could not house the country's first forestry centre of excellence or become the home for a new forestry ministry, according to Labour MP Stuart Nash.
Mr Nash, the MP for Napier and the Labour Party's spokesman for forestry, energy, land information and statistics, was in Rotorua yesterday and visited Red Stag Timber, Waiariki Institute of Technology and met mayor Steve Chadwick.
He continued his party's attack on the Government for neglecting the regions but also said the regions would have to help themselves find a way forward economically.
"The regions need to come up with their own strategies to drive their own economies, but this also has to be a partnership between central government, local government and key stakeholders.
"At this stage the government is not playing its role ... I think forestry has been hugely neglected."
He said the challenge for the regions was to determine what they were best placed to accomplish and then attract businesses that would complement those regions.
"Forestry is lost in the Ministry of Primary Industries and in this day and age of teleconferencing and technology there is no reason why a ministry [of forestry] needs to be based in Wellington, and this is the right place to have that.
"This is not Labour Party policy at this point, but it is a recommendation of mine.
"Rotorua is right in the middle of the forestry industry, you have the Crown Research Institute here and, for example, Red Stag is investing $50 to $60 million in its business here."
While admitting there was nothing he could do while in opposition, Mr Nash said Rotorua was in the perfect position to take on a leading role in the forestry industry.
"I'm acutely aware it's easy to make promises, but once they become policies and you get into government, this is what you have to deliver on.
"There's still a lot of land in the region that's unproductive - for forestry, dairy and other things such as manuka for the honey industry," he said.
He was also complimentary about the Rotorua Lakes Council's "excellent" wood first policy.
"I believe there should no government building that should not be made of wood," he said.