Weed-choked land causes bottleneck

Wednesday 14 Nov 2018

Forestry officials working on the Government's flagship One Billion Trees plan ordered more than one million pine seedlings for a block of land so choked with scrub and weeds planting couldn't go ahead - Forestry Minister Shane Jones told the Herald "ambition" and "enthusiasm" had a part to play in planting delays which struck the $32 million inaugural joint venture on the Far North forestry block.

Official documents show the Government planned to plant 1100ha with pine this year and had ordered about 1,100,000 seedlings for that.

The number of seedlings able to be planted collapsed to 191,000 as the condition of the land was revealed.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has yet to put a dollar figure on the cost to taxpayers, but market rates for seedlings put the cost of the order at about $400,000.

The deal between the Crown and the Far North's Ngati Hine Forestry Trust was trumpeted by the Beehive as the first Crown joint venture in the One Billion Trees programme.

Documents released through the Official Information Act show Jones sealed the agreement during a May 31 ceremony on a Ngati Hine forestry block, at which he planted a tree using a shovel engraved with his name.

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For the next chapter in this story, see Radio NZ's (RNZ) story where the Minister claims the cost is only $160,000.

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And, what appears to be the final chapter: Now the local iwi have taken responsibility for the botch-up (see further RNZ reporting below).

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Source: NZHerald and RNZ

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