‘Government has heard us’

Wood industry 'can play major role in Gisborne's economic growth'.

Wood industry 'can play major role in Gisborne's economic growth'.

At a meeting of the Wood Processors and Manufacturers’ Association of New Zealand (WPMA), from left, are Activate Tairawhiti managing director Steve Breen, WPMA chief executive Jon Tanner, Under-secretary for regional economic development MP Fletcher Tabuteau, Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, Rotorua Wood First Policy consultant Bryce Heard, Competenz representative Sam McNaughton and Wood Engineering Technology programme manager Shaun Bosson. Picture by Paul Rickard

The wood industry, through processing, new technology and the new jobs that follow, can play a major role in Gisborne’s economic development, industry representatives say.

The Wood Processors and Manufacturers’ Association of New Zealand, in conjunction with Activate Tairawhiti, held a regional meeting here yesterday and there was strong support for the Government’s industry-related policies.

John Tanner, the association’s chief executive, said the wood industry was in a very different position from 18 months ago, because the new government was “very supportive” — with policies such as growing a billion trees, regional economic development and recognising the need for manufacturing, particularly wood manufacturing.

Gisborne was an example of where the wood industry could be bigger.

The industry knew that wood manufacturing could bring jobs and high technology.

The industry “kept rural communities together”.

“I think the new government has heard us.”

Issues in the industry included log supply, access to logs and fair prices.

“We need to stop denying the fact there are subsidies out there that are affecting how our competitors operate and we compete.”

Changes to the Overseas Investment Act, in the words of Regional Development Minister Shane Jones, would make a real difference to manufacturing and wood manufacturing, said Mr Tanner.

Central Government and Local Government supporting the Wood First policy “made absolute sense”.

Why would people not adopt Wood First over concrete or steel? he asked.

Wood provided jobs in the regions, supported climate change and better water quality, and provided sustainable products that could be used in affordable buildings.

“We’re really appreciative of where the Government is taking us, at all levels.

“It’s fantastic — we think things are happening in our sector.

“We have to make sure those things are pushed through and help our members grow.”

Provinces the ‘lifeblood’ of country, provider of wealth

Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau said the coalition government was excited by the Wood First programme and the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), which could hold value in New Zealand rather than shipping it offshore.

The PGF was a huge step in empowering and enabling local manufacturers.

Mr Tabuteau said the provinces were the lifeblood of the country and where wealth was generated.

“With the launch of the Provincial Growth Fund and its focus on the forestry sector, there is exciting potential for innovation and growth.

“The region’s goals for a strong forestry sector, with a focus on processing, align with the Government’s aims of lifting productivity in the provinces.”

Only 4 percent of wood was processed locally and generated $27.8 million in regional GDP.

The forestry industry had indicated this could be increased to 25 percent, which could provide an additional $120 million in regional GDP.

“As part of the one billion trees planting programme, it is definitely worth exploring ways of lifting the wood processing sector as a contributor to economic growth,” Mr Tabuteau said.

“The Government has already started with a commitment in Gisborne, through the PGF, to invest $200,000 to kick-start the creation of a major wood processing ‘centre of research excellence’.

“We look forward to seeing the results of this preliminary work.”

Shaun Bosson, chief operating officer of Wood Engineering Technology (WET), said the company wanted to grow the wood sector, which had not yet reached its potential.

Wood should play a large role in the many houses that needed to be built in New Zealand. Other materials would capture that market if the wood industry was “not on the front foot”.

The real challenge was a required “shift change” in productivity in the residential building sector.

It could be seen in Auckland and Tauranga that people were beginning to live “in different structures” built with new construction methods. The wood sector had to be at the forefront of those changes.

Innovation, standards and sustainability were among other issues.

“Is the wood processing industry up to the challenge?”

The industry was capable of “leading the challenge” but changes in attitude were required, he said.

Mayor Meng Foon said much could be learned from Rotorua District Council, who had adopted a Wood First policy.

He told Mr Tabuteau that community trusts could play a key role in economic development.

Eastland Community Trust (ECT), through the port, power and the airport, acted with an “over-arching community benefit” for the benefit of all.

The trust had brought two businesses to the former Prime Sawmill site and there were “another three or four in the pipeline”.

Gisborne would not have had such a successful economic development agency (Activate Tairawhiti) without ECT.

Steve Breen, chief executive of Activate Tairawhiti, said forestry used 25 percent of rural land in the district and produced 8 percent of GDP.

Less than 10 percent of the log harvest was used for manufacturing. Wood supply would peak in the years ahead and the Government’s accelerating tree planting was relevant to the district.

Mr Breen said the industry needed to discuss what wood processing might look like in the region. The ambition was to grow the volume of logs processed here.

The wood industry, through processing, new technology and the new jobs that follow, can play a major role in Gisborne’s economic development, industry representatives say.

The Wood Processors and Manufacturers’ Association of New Zealand, in conjunction with Activate Tairawhiti, held a regional meeting here yesterday and there was strong support for the Government’s industry-related policies.

John Tanner, the association’s chief executive, said the wood industry was in a very different position from 18 months ago, because the new government was “very supportive” — with policies such as growing a billion trees, regional economic development and recognising the need for manufacturing, particularly wood manufacturing.

Gisborne was an example of where the wood industry could be bigger.

The industry knew that wood manufacturing could bring jobs and high technology.

The industry “kept rural communities together”.

“I think the new government has heard us.”

Issues in the industry included log supply, access to logs and fair prices.

“We need to stop denying the fact there are subsidies out there that are affecting how our competitors operate and we compete.”

Changes to the Overseas Investment Act, in the words of Regional Development Minister Shane Jones, would make a real difference to manufacturing and wood manufacturing, said Mr Tanner.

Central Government and Local Government supporting the Wood First policy “made absolute sense”.

Why would people not adopt Wood First over concrete or steel? he asked.

Wood provided jobs in the regions, supported climate change and better water quality, and provided sustainable products that could be used in affordable buildings.

“We’re really appreciative of where the Government is taking us, at all levels.

“It’s fantastic — we think things are happening in our sector.

“We have to make sure those things are pushed through and help our members grow.”

Provinces the ‘lifeblood’ of country, provider of wealth

Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau said the coalition government was excited by the Wood First programme and the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), which could hold value in New Zealand rather than shipping it offshore.

The PGF was a huge step in empowering and enabling local manufacturers.

Mr Tabuteau said the provinces were the lifeblood of the country and where wealth was generated.

“With the launch of the Provincial Growth Fund and its focus on the forestry sector, there is exciting potential for innovation and growth.

“The region’s goals for a strong forestry sector, with a focus on processing, align with the Government’s aims of lifting productivity in the provinces.”

Only 4 percent of wood was processed locally and generated $27.8 million in regional GDP.

The forestry industry had indicated this could be increased to 25 percent, which could provide an additional $120 million in regional GDP.

“As part of the one billion trees planting programme, it is definitely worth exploring ways of lifting the wood processing sector as a contributor to economic growth,” Mr Tabuteau said.

“The Government has already started with a commitment in Gisborne, through the PGF, to invest $200,000 to kick-start the creation of a major wood processing ‘centre of research excellence’.

“We look forward to seeing the results of this preliminary work.”

Shaun Bosson, chief operating officer of Wood Engineering Technology (WET), said the company wanted to grow the wood sector, which had not yet reached its potential.

Wood should play a large role in the many houses that needed to be built in New Zealand. Other materials would capture that market if the wood industry was “not on the front foot”.

The real challenge was a required “shift change” in productivity in the residential building sector.

It could be seen in Auckland and Tauranga that people were beginning to live “in different structures” built with new construction methods. The wood sector had to be at the forefront of those changes.

Innovation, standards and sustainability were among other issues.

“Is the wood processing industry up to the challenge?”

The industry was capable of “leading the challenge” but changes in attitude were required, he said.

Mayor Meng Foon said much could be learned from Rotorua District Council, who had adopted a Wood First policy.

He told Mr Tabuteau that community trusts could play a key role in economic development.

Eastland Community Trust (ECT), through the port, power and the airport, acted with an “over-arching community benefit” for the benefit of all.

The trust had brought two businesses to the former Prime Sawmill site and there were “another three or four in the pipeline”.

Gisborne would not have had such a successful economic development agency (Activate Tairawhiti) without ECT.

Steve Breen, chief executive of Activate Tairawhiti, said forestry used 25 percent of rural land in the district and produced 8 percent of GDP.

Less than 10 percent of the log harvest was used for manufacturing. Wood supply would peak in the years ahead and the Government’s accelerating tree planting was relevant to the district.

Mr Breen said the industry needed to discuss what wood processing might look like in the region. The ambition was to grow the volume of logs processed here.

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John Fricker - 2 months ago
I would love to read a definition of "us". I didn't see any reference to the average Gisbornite who will have to live with these "initiatives" in this article.

Jonathan - 2 months ago
It's a no-brainer with the building boom on and plenty of raw materials. Time to get innovative with expedited small-house builds.

Winston Moreton - 2 months ago
Now imagine if we could truck those logs to a railhead instead of trucking them thru town

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