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Wood Processing Centre of Excellence

9 May 2002

Wood Processing Centre of Excellence a Billion Dollar Boon to Industry and Region

“The forestry and wood processing industries, and the Rotorua region are in line for long-term economic benefits potentially worth billions of dollars per year,” said Industry and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton.

Jim Anderton today announced that Industry New Zealand is funding a National Centre of Excellence in Wood Processing Education and Training in Rotorua.

“This announcement today is in stark contract to claims regions are being neglected while Auckland gets everything,” Jim Anderton said.

“This is the second major regional initiative region to be funded under the Regional Partnerships Plan, the first was in Hamilton. This is in Rotorua and there will be another Centre announced at the end of the week.”

Industry NZ has approved $2 million from its Regional Partnerships Programme towards the development of the Centre. The remainder of the total cost of $2,670,000 will be provided by the Forest Industries Training and Education Council, Waiariki Institute of Technology and the University of Auckland.

A further implementation phase costing an estimated $10-12 million will be funded from a mix of industry and public sources.

Jim Anderton says the proposed Centre would help overcome the shortage of skilled workers in wood processing and stimulate significant national, regional and Maori economic development.

“With this funding from Industry New Zealand, the National Centre of Excellence in Wood Processing Education and Training can meet industry demands for skilled workers, engineers, technologists and researchers. These are the people whose knowledge can be put into practice to help us create wood products that attract higher prices and bigger margins in export markets,” said Jim Anderton.

“Local people, particularly young, both Maori and pakeha stand to benefit from this development which will create jobs and careers for local people.

“Our plantation wood volumes will double over the next 20 years and New Zealand needs to have the skills in place to get the highest value from our wood exports.

“The potential benefit to our national economy amounts to billions of dollars. If we take a business as usual approach and keep producing mostly commodities like logs, and pulp and paper, our wood exports are likely to fetch $8-10 billion per year by 2025. But if we apply better skills and technology to produce higher-value wood products such as clear timber, mouldings, laminates and composites, we can expect to earn $14 billion. That’s an extra $4-6 billion of income per year that Industry New Zealand can help create through its funding of the Centre,” said Jim Anderton.

The National Centre of Excellence in Wood Processing Education and Training is an initiative of the Forest Industries Training and Education Council, Waiariki Institute of Technology and the University of Auckland. The Rotorua District Council, local Maori and Forest Research (Crown Research Institute) are strongly supportive of the proposal.

For further information contact

Sam Fisher (Anderton Press secretary) 04 471 9289 or 021 714 209

Sam.Fisher@parliament.govt.nz

About Industry New Zealand’s Regional Partnership Programme

Industry New Zealand’s Regional Partnerships Programme aims to help regions to realise their potential. The Programme is not about grants for one-off initiatives. Funding goes to proposals developed by "communities of interest", working together for long-term sustainable growth for their region.

Successful proposals will involve a cross section of agencies and organisations such as business groups, local government, iwi, economic development agencies and community groups, implementing an agreed strategy.

Co-operation rather than competition is the key - between regional stakeholders and the government.

The Programme provides funding for:

- Up to $100,000 per region for strategic planning

- Up to $100,000 each year for building the necessary capability to implement strategic plans

- Up to $2 million for Major Regional Initiatives.

Regions are also required to contribute to funding, and progression to the next stage is not automatic or guaranteed.

For more information about Industry NZ and its programmes:

Ends


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