A lot going on in wood processing

EDITORIAL

Confirmation Juken New Zealand is proceeding with its plan to stop plywood and laminated veneer lumber production in Gisborne, at the loss of about 100 jobs — half its workforce here — was expected but that does not make it any easier for all those affected.

There is another two weeks of uncertainty now for Juken staff and their families, with the company starting a process to confirm which roles and exactly how many will go.

Fortunately a major new work opportunity has arrived at just the right time, with Far East Sawmills taking over the former Prime sawmill and looking to take on 50 to 60 staff by April. It has bought the mill from Eastland Community Trust and plans to invest $9 million to upgrade equipment. In the future it wants to run multiple shifts and employ up to 100 staff.

Far East Sawmills will also partner with secondary processors on or adjacent to the 22 hectare mill site at Matawhero, which ECT retains ownership of. This is a “phased masterplan” of the trust and economic development agency Activate Tairawhiti, which is in advanced discussions with a second wood processor interested in establishing its business at Prime.

Since buying the mill in 2015 for $7.4m, ECT has also invested $4.7m in joint venture Wood Engineering Technology Ltd — which is now operating at the mill with 15 staff, working to prove its technology to turn lower-grade logs into high-value structural lumber.

In the background, also, is the Labour Party’s pre-election commitment of up to $20m in matching investment to establish a prefabricated housing materials factory in Gisborne. This venture would supply timber and framing for some of the 100,000 houses it plans to build over 10 years — and also meet a regional development goal for the new Government.

Juken’s manager yesterday said they had discounted a suggestion to start producing a new type of plywood for “affordable housing” in New Zealand because of the investment required, which also indicates they are not in the market for a $20m co-investment from the Government. It will be interesting to see if there is any outcome from their meeting in Wellington tomorrow.

Confirmation Juken New Zealand is proceeding with its plan to stop plywood and laminated veneer lumber production in Gisborne, at the loss of about 100 jobs — half its workforce here — was expected but that does not make it any easier for all those affected.

There is another two weeks of uncertainty now for Juken staff and their families, with the company starting a process to confirm which roles and exactly how many will go.

Fortunately a major new work opportunity has arrived at just the right time, with Far East Sawmills taking over the former Prime sawmill and looking to take on 50 to 60 staff by April. It has bought the mill from Eastland Community Trust and plans to invest $9 million to upgrade equipment. In the future it wants to run multiple shifts and employ up to 100 staff.

Far East Sawmills will also partner with secondary processors on or adjacent to the 22 hectare mill site at Matawhero, which ECT retains ownership of. This is a “phased masterplan” of the trust and economic development agency Activate Tairawhiti, which is in advanced discussions with a second wood processor interested in establishing its business at Prime.

Since buying the mill in 2015 for $7.4m, ECT has also invested $4.7m in joint venture Wood Engineering Technology Ltd — which is now operating at the mill with 15 staff, working to prove its technology to turn lower-grade logs into high-value structural lumber.

In the background, also, is the Labour Party’s pre-election commitment of up to $20m in matching investment to establish a prefabricated housing materials factory in Gisborne. This venture would supply timber and framing for some of the 100,000 houses it plans to build over 10 years — and also meet a regional development goal for the new Government.

Juken’s manager yesterday said they had discounted a suggestion to start producing a new type of plywood for “affordable housing” in New Zealand because of the investment required, which also indicates they are not in the market for a $20m co-investment from the Government. It will be interesting to see if there is any outcome from their meeting in Wellington tomorrow.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you agree with the Government’s new guideline for police, to not prosecute drug users when a therapeutic approach would be more beneficial or there is no public interest in prosecution?