Hawke's Bay forestry contractors can finally return to work

By Te Ao - Māori News

Forestry contractors around the country are rejoicing the decision to let them get back to work after COVID-19 restrictions resulted in tools down.

In the Hawke's Bay where 167,000 hectares are in forestry, it's back to work for Elliot Logging getting logs ready for the local mill.

Kere Elliot says, "All of the crews I know of in the Bay have cranked back up and it's moving again so that's a good thing."

Forestry was one of the first hit by the fallout from COVID-19 when China's ports shut down in February our ports were left full of logs and with 30,000 people employed in the industry, the flow-on effect has been huge.

"It was pretty instant when the country got shut down that was it but as we were coming into some of the…four day weeks."

Elliot, who was named Hawke's Bay's 2019 Forester of the Year, says Government assistance has got her and husband Ken's business through the lockdown but her team is grateful to be back at work.

"We're relatively fortunate for my own crew," Elliot adds.

Forestry is the country's third-largest export earner and Māori makes up for a third of its workforce.  

Kere says whilst COVID-19 restrictions have provided valuable time for whānau to connect - businesses can't sustain long term breaks.