Māori landowners urged to make their lands available for forestry

By Dean Nathan

The Minister of Regional Economic Development is calling for Māori landowners in Northland to make their lands available for forestry.  Following the announcement of one billion dollars of funding per annum to the regions, Shanes Jones says the initiative will address needs that have been put to the side for many years such as long-term unemployment.

Jones told Te Kāea, "I'm calling on our relatives who own land to make it available to plant trees.  This will provides employment here in this region for our children.  In addition to that, we're going to upgrade the railway from Auckland north to Ruakaka.

The Minister says the funding is direct from the cabinet with a full audit to be carried out on the various regional projects under consideration.

Longtime Northland businessman Stan Semenoff told says, "I travelled up from Whangarei tonight and I've got a pretty modern vehicle but the roads are rubbish and we need to spend more money on infrastructure and get our people employed and get our people skilled.  It'll take time but don't shy of it.  This is our one and only chance lets make a good boot of it."

While the Minister was receiving flack over comments he made in relation to creating employment in the forestry sector, Mr Jones foresees future prosperity for the people of Northland by generating businesses where saplings are grown annually from seed to include not only pine but native species such as pohutukawa and puriri where schools and whole communities can also get involved in developing the industry.  He added that it cannot be achieved in a year but the new government has allocated funding to pay off the debt-ridden railway and upgrade the line from Auckland north to Ruakaka.

"I don't want Māori youth to be sitting around doing nothing.  The foresty initiative alone will create hundreds if not thousands of direct and indirect jobs and through that, I hope that will not to leave even one young Māori without a job.  This is a major incentive for the whole of Ngāpuhi and all of Northland.