Foreign forestry giants linked to the popular global retail chain Ikea have won consent to buy 1600ha more New Zealand land.
A two-month ministerial forestry slash inquiry was announced in February to ascertain what could be done about destructive slash and make recommendations on improving current practices and land use.
The Overseas Investment Office released the latest decisions on forestry companies’ plans to expand their Kiwi holdings.
That showed three separate applications under the special forestry category from Dutch-owned Ingka Investments Forest Assets NZ and Ingka Investments Management NZ.
Those two Dutch businesses are owned by Ingka Investments B.V., the investment arm of Ingka Group, the largest franchisee of Ikea stores internationally, the OIO noted.
Ikea is making its New Zealand debut at Sylvia Park where construction of its first store is due to start soon.
The Government said there would be a ministerial inquiry into destructive forestry debris but the Herald has reported that for storm-battered East Coasters, the Beehive is very late to something they’ve known for years.
A petition signed by around 9000 Tairāwhiti people was presented to the Gisborne District Council on January 27 after Cyclone Hale, calling for an independent inquiry into land use in the region. It had already been pummelled several times by forestry waste during storms, causing many millions of dollars of damage.
The two Ingka businesses’ three separate applications to the OIO released were:
- 606ha of Hawke’s Bay land for $9.9m. The Dutch companies plan to establish and maintain 416.9ha of rotation forest during the 2024/2025 planting seasons. The trees will be harvested after 27 to 30 years and replanting will occur following harvest.
- 597ha of land at 40 Whyte Rd, Happy Valley, Southland for $9.3m. That land is now sheep, beef and deer farming land but they want to plant it and harvest the trees in 27 to 30 years’ time.
- 397ha of land from Tunakino Forestry at 6 Tinui Valley Rd outside Masterton in the Wairarapa for $2.8m. That site is used for forestry. The businesses will continue those operations and replant around 397ha in pinus radiata or similar species.
Ingka is a fast-expanding New Zealand forestry landowner.
Last year, the Herald reported how Ingka Investments forestland investment manager Andriy Hrytsyuk was on a trip of the country looking at the company’s recent investments, which included a stop in Otago and Southland.
Speaking from Auckland, Hrytsyuk said the trip’s purpose was to meet stakeholders to communicate that it wanted to be a good neighbour.
Biologically, New Zealand was one of the best places to grow trees and the country offered a great opportunity to continue its forestation programme, he said last year.
Asked whether the company understood why buying prime farming land was controversial, he admitted they did not, to begin with.
“We are learning that it is not so straightforward and there are a number of rational and emotional reasons behind it, but we believe we have a strong case for the social impact on jobs and the environment. We know we have to have good communication to explain that ... we can talk a lot of nice things but we have to show the facts,” he said last June.
In February, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced a ministerial inquiry into forestry slash, to be chaired by former National education minister and Gisborne-based MP Hekia Parata.
Hipkins said“things have to change because slash on beaches, in rivers, on farms is unacceptable” - something he said he would take steps to address in the very early days after the cyclone smashed through the North Island.
Photos of collapsed bridges with piles of slash at their bases – and anger from those in places such as Tolaga Bay – reignited calls for action on the long-standing problem of debris from commercial forestry.
The two-month inquiry will address the impacts of weather events like cyclones Hale and Gabrielle and earlier events
It will investigate past and current land-use practices and the impact of woody debris including forestry slash and sediment on communities, livestock, buildings and the environment. It will also look at associated economic drivers and constraints.