Council receives close to NZ$13 million for forests

The Whanganui District Council has banked close to NZ$13 million with the sale of four forestry blocks finally getting approval from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO). The forests, Te Ara To Waka, Tauwhare, McNabs and Siceleys, have been purchased by Summit Forests New Zealand Ltd which is a subsidiary of Japanese multi-national Sumitomo Corporation.

The NZ$13 million sale includes the land and tree crops. The Whanganui council owned 95 per cent of the portfolio with Ruapehu and South Taranaki district councils sharing the rest. The blocks were bought by the councils as an investment in 1978 and planting began a year later.

"The forestry portfolio has been an interesting story which has unfolded over the last 40 or so years with past and present mayors and councillors across our region who have been passionate about the entry into the forestry business in the Whanganui District," council chief executive Kym Fell said.

Radiata pine was planted in anticipation of increased demand for wood within 20 or 30 years and to demonstrate the viability of pine as a crop for the erosion-prone, steep sandy soils found in the district.

"The venture has met its objectives by pioneering big forestry in our region and proved that growing pine was viable in our district," Fell said. As part of consultation for the council's Long-Term Plan in 2015 the community indicated general support for selling council-owned forests.


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