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Wood Processing Could Make NZ The “Pacific Tiger”

10 July 2002

The wood processing industry presents a major opportunity for the New Zealand economy to become the ‘pacific tiger’ says Industry and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton who today is attending the last formal meeting of the Wood Processing Strategy Steering Group he convened.

“By 2015, the wood from New Zealand's planted forests will double to 30-35 million cubic metres and ten years later, will have doubled again. Wood processing has the potential to go from our third largest export earner to our largest.

“This would mean thousands of high quality jobs and a substantial increase in growth and GDP if the returns from this industry are maximised,” said Jim Anderton.

Jim Anderton will attended the Wood Processing Strategy Group in Auckland where a substantial report on progress to date and a future work programme is to be tabled.

“When we started the process two years ago, the government wasn’t talking to the industry, the transport infrastructure was inadequate and not being upgraded, skilled labour shortages were not being addressed, drug abuse was a major headache and there was no way to deal with unnecessary resource consent delays which were frustrating legitimate industry development.

“Since we started meeting there have been some excellent achievements, including:
 Two million dollars for a Rotorua based multi million dollar wood processing centre of excellence for research and training.
 The recent announcement that a new wood processing plant nearly twice the size of our largest current plant will be built in Gisborne.
 The government making $30 million of annual Government available funding for regional roading infrastructure.
 Setting short, medium and long term goals to build the industry into New Zealand’s largest.
 A working partnership between government, industry and regional communities.
 Drug programmes with a strong rehabilitation focus to address drug abuse in the industry.
 Making forestry a priority for the Ministry of Research Science and Technology.
 Removal of unnecessary timing delays through developing best practice guidelines for local authorities administering the Resource Management Act.

“The challenge is for industry and government to continue to work to achieve this growth which will give a significant boost to our economy.

“The industry and government have set as success targets forest products becoming New Zealand's largest export earner, creating 20 percent more jobs by 2005 (up from 25,000 now) and by 2015, processing in New Zealand at least half the additional wood harvest.

“Last week I was pleased to be able to announce of one of the largest single jobs machine successes with the news that Gisborne will be home for New Zealand’s largest wood processing plant. Hikurangi Forest Farms will process the equivalent of the total volume of logs currently being shipped out of the Gisborne Port per year and in a plant three times the size of the largest in the East Coast region.

“This was only possible because of the work of the Wood Processing Steering Group,” said Jim Anderton.

The work on the strategy will continue through implementation of the plan presented today.

Ends

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