11 May 2018

Govt to plant a billion trees under new forestry service

5:10 pm on 11 May 2018

The government has unveiled plans to plant a billion trees over the next 10 years under the new re-establishment of a state-owned forestry service.

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The re-establishment of a forestry service, after a previous Labour government abandoned the original in 1987, was welcomed by ministers and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today. Photo: 123rf

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Forestry Shane Jones, associate Minister of Forestry Meka Whaitiri, and Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey attended the launch of the new forestry service, Te Uru Rākau, in Rotorua today.

The service was launched with an allocation of $15 million as part of an election campaign promise with New Zealand First.

Associate Minister of Forestry Meka Whaitiri welcomed the re-establishment of the service after a previous Labour government abandoned its original Forest Service in 1987.

"This not only honours the coalition deal between New Zealand First and Labour but it recognises the fact that Rotorua is the centre of forestry in New Zealand. I also welcome the decision to spend another $15 million on the work of setting up of Te Uru Rākau," Ms Whaitiri said.

The launch of Te Uru Rākau will mean New Zealand's forestry industry will be future proofed with new opportunities to be expected, Ms Whaitiri said.

"Today's rebrand will create a new impetus for forestry in our regions, creating jobs and new skills and training opportunities in provincial New Zealand," she said.

"I will also make sure that we develop a diverse, skilled and safe workforce. I also have a new role in championing and engaging women in the forestry industry."

Minister of Forestry Shane Jones said the service was vital as the industry was New Zealand's third largest exporter with an income of $5 billion, and it had the potential to grow.

Ms Whaitiri said the re-launch of the service would help establish better relationships between the government and Māori for land usage.

"In my new role I will make sure that Māori who want to use their land for forestry can by establishing much closer partnerships between the government and the Māori people," she said.

Mr Jones said a ministerial advisory group had been appointed to offer industry perspectives.