Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


African Rainforests Destroyed For Beehive Offices

14 March 2001

"Refurbishing Beehive offices with imported unsustainable African rainforest timbers is environmentally stupid, unpatriotic and short-changes New Zealand timber-workers of jobs," National's Environment and Conservation spokesperson Nick Smith said today.

"The environmental stupidity is that virgin tropical rainforests in Africa are being trashed for the Beehive when certified sustainably produced New Zealand timbers are available.

"It is a disgrace that New Zealand's most important public building is to be adorned with African timbers and not New Zealand's own beautiful timbers. The further nonsense is that New Zealand's fledgling sustainable forest industry and workers are being denied work because of the Government's environmental stupidity. The Government should be acting locally and thinking globally, but instead has adopted the out of sight, out of mind approach."

"The $40 million refurbishment of the Beehive is being undertaken by Fletcher Construction and McKee Fehl Construction Ltd with architects Warren and Mahoney. The original Beehive panelling was Tawa but the refurbishment is being undertaken with Anegre, an African rainforest hardwood from the Ivory Coast and Tanzania marketed in New Zealand as 'English Tawa'.

"I was advised by Parliament's Building Development Manager Mr Jim Glynan that the decision to use African rainforest timber was a consequence of a Government directive that no New Zealand native timbers be used. Ministers had given no instruction that the timbers used be from certified sustainably managed forests.

"Sustainable forest management is a critical issue in respect of climate change and species survival. A New Zealand Prime Minister can hardly express concern to a visiting Asian or African leader about rainforest destruction in an office panelled with clear felled timber products from Africa.

"The Government should at the very least prohibit any timber not certified as sustainable from being used in the Beehive and should preferably insist on using sustainably harvested New Zealand Tawa," Dr Smith said.

BACKGROUND NOTES Use of African Hardwood in Beehive Refurbishment

What work is involved in the Beehive Refurbishment? The $40million extensive refurbishment was approved by the Labour/Alliance Government last year. It consists of three stages. Stage 1 was substantially mechanical servicing.

Stage 2 is the public floors of the building and involves major interior redesign up to the fourth floor. Stage 2 is being undertaken by Fletcher Construction and is well underway. The Anegre panelling is extensively used and can be viewed in the partially completed second floor lobby.

Stage 3 involves the refurbishment of all Ministerial offices and the Cabinet room from floors 4-10. The contract has recently been let to McKee Fehl Construction. The company has confirmed with suppliers that it will be using the imported Anegre product. There are approximately 900 sheets of the veneered product required to do all the offices. (See: Beehive Refurbishment Joinery Specifications, attached)

What is Anegre and where is it sourced? Anegre is an African hardwood native to Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Kenya. The product is most likely to have come from the Ivory Coast as much of the forests in Nigeria and Kenya have already been felled. Timber merchants in New Zealand have marketed 'Anegre' by the pseudo name "English Tawa" despite there being no such timber. The World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development notes that over the past fifteen years Africa lost more forest than any other continent and that 90% of the Central African rainforests have been destroyed. (See: World Woods, attached)

Is sustainably managed NZ Tawa available? The 1993 Forests Act requires that NZ forest products must be sustainably produced. The Ministry of Forestry must approve sustainable management plans. Certified NZ Tawa is available from several suppliers.

What is the price difference between African Anegre and NZ Tawa? New Zealand Tawa is more expensive because producers must certify the forest is sustainably managed. Certification involves ensuring no more trees are harvested than what grows in any year and that harvesting is done by non-invasive techniques that minimise impacts on the forest and its wildlife.

The cost of the NZ Tawa product is approximately $12 per sheet or 10% more expensive that the West African Anegre. The additional cost of using New Zealand sustainably produced timbers for the Beehive is approximately $10,000.

How is sustainability of native forest management certified? The Forest Stewardship Council is the internationally recognised certifying authority for sustainability. Millions of hectares of forests worldwide are certified by the FSC including over 400,000 hectares of forest in New Zealand. No forests on the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya or Tanzania are listed as FSC certified.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Tax Working Group’s Road Map

Trying to analyse the interim report on the Tax Working Group (TWG) is like trying to review an entire All Blacks game, but at the half- time mark.

With so much still to be finalised, Sir Michael Cullen and his colleagues are going to need all the All Blacks’ fabled finishing skills to get a coherent, fiscally neutral package together by the February 2019 deadline. More>>


Protest At Sea: Judge Discharges Greenpeace Activists

The judge today discharged Norman and Howell without conviction, saying the cumulative consequences of a conviction would be out of proportion to what was “low level” offending off the Wairarapa coast in April 2017. More>>


Meth Testing Report: Housing NZ "To Right Wrong"

Phil Twyford “Housing NZ acknowledges that around 800 tenants suffered by either losing their tenancies, losing their possessions, being suspended from the public housing waiting list, negative effects on their credit ratings or, in the worst cases, being made homeless.” More>>


No Reshuffle: Meka Whaitiri Removed As A Minister

Meka Whaitiri will be removed as a Minister with immediate effect... The decision was made after receiving a report into an incident that occurred on 27 August in Gisborne, involving Meka Whaitiri and one of her staff. More>>


Pay Equity Bill: Making History For Women’s Pay

The Equal Pay Amendment Bill, introduced to the House today, will make it easier for workers to make a pay equity claim , using a more simple and accessible process within New Zealand’s existing bargaining framework. More>>


Suffrage 125: NZ A Trailblazer For Women

“We acknowledge the work of Kate Sheppard, Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, and all of the suffragists who tirelessly campaigned for the vote… Today we also need to ask each other: how we can continue to make our country a fairer and better place to continue the legacy of the suffragists.” More>>


Asylum: Refugee Quota Increasing To 1500

“The quota increase will take place from July 2020. In the meantime, we will work to increase the number and spread of refugee resettlement and support services. We need to make sure we’re prepared for this change in policy.” More>>





InfoPages News Channels