The following article was originally published in the October 2012 issue of Nga Kohinga Magazine.
Ngati Porou Forests Ltd came into existence in 1989. A pilot scheme offered by Te Puni Kokiri, to Maori landowners, as an alternative to pastoral farming was trialled in Taitokerau.
The Taitokerau people wished to expand the scheme however the government said it would need to be offered to other Iwi first and it is from here that Mr Mike Corrigan, a former Ngati Porou Director approached Ngati Porou about extending the scheme here.
Several meetings and a trip to Taitokerau, some research of possible land available and the scheme was rolled out here in 1989. The project was funded by the government and the original agreement was for some 10,000 hectares.
There were 5 properties identified for the first plantings, Awatere, Harakeke, Hoia, Kiwinui and Tarere. These were collectively referred to as the “Pioneer Blocks” and this name is still used as a term by older staff and directors today. In 1989 Hoia, Tarere and parts of Awatere and Kiwinui were planted. The rest of Awatere, Kiwinui and Harakeke were planted the following year.
At around this time the government decided to stop finance schemes like the one that got Ngati Porou into forestry and proposed to withdraw funding. Fortunately the lawyers agreed our contract was binding and a compromise agreed. An amount of $4.5 million was offered to continue some planting for those land blocks that had an expectation to plant, some silviculture money to maintain the integrity of the first plantings and funds to search for a longer term financier to reach the goal of 10,000 hectares.
Three possible Joint Venture partners were looked at before finally settling with Hansol, a South Korean company looking for a long term wood supply. The other possibilities included a signatory to the Forest Accord that specifically prevents the clearing of Kanuka and the other opted to finance a project in South America.
Joint Venture Partners
So in 1996 on the 14th of February (Valentine’s Day) at Rahui Marae, Tikitiki, a Joint Venture between Ngati Porou Whanui Forests and Hansol along with the Minister of Forests, pakeke and land owner representatives was signed. The JV essentially was for NPWFL to supply the land and for Hansol to finance the work.
The agreement being that the Stumpage (Profit) at harvest would be shared between three parties of the JV according to their relative inputs. The landowners would be based on the value of their land and any improvements they could bring to the deal. NPWFL for their contribution of funding the land clearing programme and Hansol for the costs associated with bringing a forest through to harvest.
To date 38 forest blocks have been established under the Ngati Porou Whanui Forests- Hansol Joint Venture. The largest being Mangaotane, to the west of Mangatu Forest and the remaining forests situated from Mangatuna to Te Araroa. The first of these forests were planted in 1989 and the last in 2003.
To further expand the forests a Joint Venture was also signed with Sustainable Forest Management Ltd(SFM) to take advantage of the Carbon Forest opportunities. Land was recruited and in 2008 a eucalyptus forest established on Pakihiroa Station. The following year the world financial rescission started to hit home and unfortunately SFM became a casualty and fell over. This left NPWFL with a carbon forest and still looking for a financial partner to expand its forest estate.
Former Directors and General Managers
There have been a number of company directors over the years. Whai Dewes, Selwyn Parata, Teepa Wawatai, Owen Lloyd, Victor Goldsmith and Te Kapunga Dewes are the current Directors. Others in the past have been Mike Corrigan, Ned Ihaka, Bill Donnelly, Koro Dewes, Kodi Pewhairangi, Tina Porou, and John McGee.The company General Managers have been Ned Ihaka, Allan Hampshire, Bryan McKinlay, Chris Insley, Bill Wheeler, Tina Porou and currently Daniel Williams.
Ngati Porou Whanui Forests Ltd is a limited liability company and the shareholders are the landowner blocks that have signed forest rights with the company. The potential for Ngati Porou Whanui Forests to expand its benefits to the region will depend on further landowner participation and further joint venture funding assistance.
In coming editions of Nga Kohinga NPWFL will be profiling some of the individual blocks within the joint venture. Landowners, of these joint venture blocks, are welcome to submit their own reflections to the company which will be collated for future editions.