Forestry issues standoff says Maori leader

Wednesday 22 Jun 2022

(Newshub) Forestry issue could become new foreshore and seabed - Maori leader - Maori say a standoff with the Government over the rights of forestry leaders to plant whatever trees they want on their own land has the potential to be the next Foreshore and Seabed controversy.

The Government is urging Maori to move from pine and other exotic species to native forest.

But many Maori have already planted pine in response to the Government’s one billion trees target and are collecting more carbon credits from the fast-growing forests than they could with natives and they don’t want to switch.

"What is going on, what is being proposed, we see as the Labour government's next Foreshore and Seabed moment," Chris Karamea Insley, Chair of Te Taumata said.

Back in 2004 the Helen Clark government extinguished Maori customary title to the Foreshore and Seabed.

Insley believes there are very strong parallels.

"The Government proposing to legislate away the rights of Maori landowners to make their own decisions about what we can and can't do on our land, it is significant, it is a watershed moment for this current government if they proceed down this course," he told Newshub.

Last week, Māori leaders and foresters met with Government Ministers about proposed changes to exclude the future permanent plantings of exotic forests like radiata pine from the Emissions Trading Scheme.

It’s estimated if the Government goes ahead with the legislation it's a $7 billion dollar loss to Aotearoa’s economy.

Already Māori are prepared to go to the High Court and the Waitangi Tribunal and various iwi are concerned that the change will breach their Treaty settlements.

"Part of the Treaty settlement was counting on this capability and this ability to sustainably develop the land with exotics in the permanent category to provide a wealth generation engine for their Treaty settlement," Ngā Pou a Tane - National Māori Forest Association chair Te Kapunga Dewes said.

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