Other wood processors expected in Gisborne

Activate Tairawhiti in a media release on Wednesday said that they empathised with those affected by yesterday’s announcement. Juken has been a long-standing employer at Matawhero for well over 20 years. It is a shame that low demand in Japan has forced Juken to scale back its Gisborne plant.

Activate Tairawhiti recognises the importance of wood processing to the region and very much wants to assist Juken with their process by supporting engagement with other industry operators and third-party stakeholders to avoid or minimise the impacts of possible job losses on the region. But these potential losses should not deter the Eastland Community Trust from its strategy of pursuing a wood cluster or NZ Centre of Excellence for wood processing for Gisborne.

Juken’s issues in the Japanese market are in stark contrast to very strong demand for NZ wood products from other Asian markets and from around the globe. That demand bodes well for the wider industry prospects and with the development of the Prime site in particular.

We are in the final stages of due diligence with a New Zealand-based sawmill operator, which is likely to purchase and recommission the Prime sawmill in the very near future. As part of this process, we completed a full run-up of the sawmill in November with 30 tonnes of logs processed through the green mill. The trial went successfully.

We anticipate being able to release further details over the coming fortnight and expect the operator will create a significant number of jobs on site by the end of this quarter. This is also a critical building block in unlocking future cluster parties and creating further employment on site.

Meanwhile, WET Gisborne Limited (WGL) is within the commissioning phase of its operation, with a long-term view of meeting the domestic market for high value structural lumber. WGL currently employs around 15 staff and, once operational, we expect this to increase to close to 25 with opportunities for further expansion.

We will release the details of our progress at Prime as soon as is contractually possible.

Source: Activate Tairawhiti

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