Prolam re-opens Motueka sawmill

Friday 8 Dec 2023

The first logs in more than five years have been milled at a restored sawmill on Little Sydney Road, Motueka (top of the South Island, NZ) marking a new chapter for the region’s timber industry.

Closed in 2017, Nelson family-owned business Prolam has been working to reinstate the 80-year-old mill to support the production of its innovative structural timber solutions.Prolam is one of New Zealand’s leading manufacturers of glue laminated timber building products and the mill will play a pivotal role in the company’s ability to meet the building industry’s demand for more sustainable, locally made building materials.

Prolam Managing Director, John Woodman, said the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the timber processing industry and the local economy was front and centre in his decision to purchase the site in 2017 and get the mill back up and running. “We have seen seven or eight mills close across New Zealand in the last 10 years, and when we started planning to reinstate the mill in 2021, structural grade timber was in short supply,” Mr Woodman said. 

“We source and use select quality New Zealand plantation grown radiata pine in our glue laminated timber beams, posts and portals and while supply is no longer an issue, our ability to mill a proportion of our own timber will have significant benefits for us and our customers.”

Mr Woodman said Prolam has carved a reputation as an industry leader in the supply of premium quality engineered timber solutions in fast lead times and at a competitive price. “The commencement of production at the mill represents a step change in our production capability and secures our control across key elements of the manufacturing process,” he said.

Prolam employed experienced Sawmill Manager Damon Taggart to run the reinstatement program and the mill once it was operational, and engaged New Zealand-based companies, Pacific Sawmill Engineering and Tui Technology, to assist in the planning, design and oversight of the mill’s refurbishment. 

“We have invested in new and proven milling technology to create a vertically integrated glue laminated production facility that will enable us to debark logs, mill, kiln dry and treat the timber ready for the lamination process,” Mr Woodman said.

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Source and image credit: Prolam

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