Te Uru Rākau's new forestry hub in Rotorua, the "heart" of New Zealand's forestry sector, is a year behind schedule.
The hub is being built by developers Quayside Holdings - the investment arm of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council - for Government tenants.
It was supposed to be finished by the end of this year, according to statements made by Forestry Minister Shane Jones seven months ago.
Now Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) has confirmed work hasn't yet started at the site.
Te Uru Rākau only signed a contract with a developer earlier this month and the building won't be finished until the end of 2021 because Covid-19 delayed the contract signing, a spokesman said this week.
Currently, there are 37 Ministry for Primary Industries staff based in Rotorua but the hub, on a leased site at Rotorua's 114 ha Scion campus, will eventually cater to 50 staff including 25 from Te Uru Rākau.
The office space, secure parking and warehouse space in the hub will also be shared with Department of Conservation staff.
In May 2018, Jones said: "Te Uru Rākau will build a strong and dedicated forestry presence in Rotorua, recognising that Rotorua is at the heart of the forestry sector in New Zealand."
He then joined a blessing ceremony at the hub site, in November and said Te Uru Rākau's current office, also located at the campus, "has been assessed as no longer fit for purpose".
Jones said an alternative solution was needed to accommodate the growing number of regional staff.
This week Jones declined to comment on the hub delays.
The Te Uru Rākau spokesman said it had not been harder to find a developer than expected and the forestry service did not "envisage" the project going over budget, because of the delay.
He would not provide the budgeted figure for the hub build because of commercial sensitivities but said New Zealand-grown timber would be used for both the core and other visible parts.
The internal fit-out of the building is expected to cost Te Uru Rākau $1.4 million.
As of May this year, Te Uru Rākau had spent $130,000 covering legal costs and project management for the hub.
Following news of the hub delay, the Department of Conservation was able to negotiate a further lease term with its current landlord.
A Scion spokeswoman said the Crown Research Institute remained "very positive" about innovation opportunities at the planned forestry hub.