A new name, a new plaque, and a great policy – 29 April 2021 marked a significant milestone in the history of forestry in New Zealand.
It’s the day a Minister of Parliament visited Rotorua to announce the city would essentially become the home of forestry, the centre of all things timber, the place where all important decisions relating timber will be made.
Minister Stuart Nash announced that Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) will be renamed Te Uru Rākau - New Zealand Forest Service, and will shift its operational headquarters from Wellington to Rotorua acknowledging the central location of Rotorua within our largest plantation forest region.
“The name change is small but significant,” he said. “It signals a more hands-on role for a public forestry service, with specialists and advisors working alongside the sector.”
In the same announcement Minister Nash advised there would be a greater role for the public forestry service which would drive the focus on regional economic development, skills training, and a low-emissions future.
“We will lift planning and advisory capabilities within Te Uru Rākau - New Zealand Forest Service so it can offer a professional advisory service and share its forestry management expertise.
The new service is set to provide benefit to Māori, where there is huge potential across the complete forestry spectrum, as landowners, community leaders, investors and guardians of the environment. This new, better fit-for-purpose service will continue to support Māori aspirations for land management, economic development and job creation.
“It will provide more on-the-ground support to iwi, private landowners, farm foresters, local councils, timber processors, training institutes, and other forestry organisations. The Forest Service will maximise opportunities for the forestry and wood processing sector.”
By retaining more wood processing onshore, the aim is to create local jobs and further support rural communities. Wood processing plants offer the opportunity to create high-tech, high-value products and by-products to diversify the income streams of foresters and better enable business to work more sustainably with business, reducing carbon miles and thus reducing the effects of climate change.
The Minister was accompanied by Rotorua based Labour MP Tamati Coffey, and children from Te Kura o te Whakarewarewa, who together unveiled a commemorative plaque which was made of wood sourced from one of the old trees at the site, symbolising a connecting between the past and the future of the new service.
Minster of Foresty Stuart Nash with Scion Staff