Sunday, August 28, 2022

Point of Order: Thanks Minister – we now know what Govt is investing in forestry

But chatting and singing to hasten tree growth shouldn’t cost much

Point of Order’s Beehive monitors couldn’t get too wildly excited by the latest announcements from the Beehive.

A bridge was opened – the press statement calls it the Old Māngere Bridge Replacement, rather than the New Māngere Bridge.

Pacific peoples and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei have welcomed “a new dawn of partnership and prosperity” at a Dawn Raids apology commemoration ceremony in Auckland. Among other things, this suggests the Dawn Raids apology a year ago is to be remembered in commemoration ceremonies every year.

New appointments have been made to the Strategic COVID-19 Public Health Advisory Group and the term of the group has been extended until December.

The Government has activated Enhanced Taskforce Green in response to flooding in the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough districts.

And progress is being made on another Treaty settlement. Ngāti Ruapani mai Waikaremoana and the Crown have signed an Agreement in Principle.

Each of those bits of news will be welcomed by the constituencies affected, sure enough, but the Point of Order team was tempted to revisit an announcement made about a week ago, when Forestry Minister Stuart Nash launched the draft Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan at the Canterbury West Coast Wood Council Awards in Christchurch.

He described the plan as an important part of the Government’s work to build a high-wage, low-emissions economy.

“Through partnering with industry, Māori and unions, we can add significant value to the sector by processing logs domestically rather than sending them off-shore for other countries to extract value from.”

It looks like the “Eureka!” moment has been working out the appropriate partnership with industry, Māori and unions.

We suppose this because we have known for decades that significant value can be added to our trees by processing logs domestically rather than sending them off-shore for other countries to cash in.

The plan (Nash said) proposes a range of actions, including the Crown leading the way in researching and supporting alternative species including helping nurseries increase supply and lower costs …

He shouldn’t have to pump too much more money into helping nurseries increase supply and lower costs.

The Ministry for Primary Industries recently issued a press statement to provide a progress report on a New Zealand Forest Service partnership with a marae-based tree-growing project and a grant of nearly $500,000 over two years through the One Billion Trees (1BT) programme.

The investment has been a triumph in terms of the knowledge it has reaped, because the ministry tells us the trees being grown on the marae are out-performing trees grown elsewhere.

The secret was disclosed in the headline on the press statement: Waiata helping native seedlings to thrive.

Akerama Marae nursery support manager Thelma Horne says, her team regularly korero and waiata to the fledgling native tree seedlings in their nursery.

“Some people think we are a little crazy, but it is how we do things around here,” Thelma Horne says.

The statement proceeded to say:

Proof it works is on full display in their nursery where prized Kauri and Totara, grown from eco-sourced forests nearby, are shooting up much faster than what is normally expected, says Thelma Horne.

“Scientists want to know why our trees are growing so successfully. Instead of taking months, we are cropping Totara seedlings out in weeks.”

But whereas the ministry declared the cost of the marae tree-growing project – $500,000 over two years – the Minister did not mention the cost of implementing the draft Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan in his press statement last week.

Perhaps this was an oversight because the sum is not a state secret.

On Thursday – in answer to a patsy Parliamentary question from Labour MP Anna Lorck – Nash gave us the answer.

The Government provided $385.4 million in Budget 2022 to support the sector. This investment will be instrumental in further developing wood processing in New Zealand.


Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton


Robert Arthur said...

I always understood that the dawn raids were an attempt to intercept the very many elusive illegal overstayers. And that those harbouring them were party to an illegal act. Have I undertood wrong all these years? i bet many harbouring the freeloaders in cramped non affluent conditons were not too sad to see them go, although soppy pardons retained many.

Robert Arthur said...

$385 million!! How long will that take to recoup? I wonder if any study of the possible benefits and distribution of is available. Preumably will be to the detriment of many existing exporters.