Tairāwhiti forestry manager can’t wait to get his team back to work

By Taroi Black

Trade to China on halt whilst Māori forestry manager worried about when his laid off team can return back to mahi.

Ma Parata, an operations manager for local Māori forestry and roading company Kuru Contractors Limited, fears a potential downturn in work due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

“Every morning we wake up thinking when will it be our last day at work,” Parata says.

There are more than 50 forestry businesses all along the coast who are facing the downturn. For Kuru Contractors Limited, 30% of their workers have been laid off.

Now, workers are calling on central government and local government to cut through the red tape and provide alternative jobs to prevent workers in the sector from sitting at home.

“Our people on the ground who are currently working are sick and tired of waiting for answers.”

Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Rohette Stoltz giving the fist at council today. Photo / File

Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford who met with the Gisborne District Council and local businesses is looking for alternative ways to ensure people are still working and for those laid off to receive the best support possible.

Yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of $4 million to boost the Regional Business Partner network would secure cash flow and the ability to pay taxes for workers nationwide.

Logs piling up at Gisborne's port. Photo / File

“Tairawhiti is feeling the sharp edge of the downturn caused by an oversupply of logs in China.”

However, Parata admits that the government’s decision to invest $4 million to spread across the country is not enough. He believes the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to invest in Tairawhiti is the best scenario to ensure work flow continues.

Minister Twyford told Te Ao Maori News that: 

“The coalition government has invested a lot of money in roads, both local roads and state highway here in Tairāwhiti. We’re going to look how we can bring forward some of that work, cut through the red tape,” he says.

Through the Provincial Growth Fund, the coalition Government will invest heavily in Tairāwhiti.  Announcing in 2018 an investment package of $152.7 million for the region.

For Kuru Contractors Limited, it provides road line harvesting and road construction services to Hikurangi Forest Farms, and many others across the rohe of the East Coast.

Parata is hoping the government will secure mahi for their people faced with the downturn.

“The money is waiting in Wellington and Gisborne which was announced by Northland MP Shane Jones. Well, we’re still waiting for it,” Parata says.