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President's Comment

Graham West, New Zealand Tree Grower August 2021.

A lot has been happening since the March Wellington conference.

The Council passed a motion for the Executive to progress the plan to address the rejuvenation of the organisation. The Executive has willingly taken on the challenge and has formed three working groups to initially address the newsletter, website and funding. The two new Executive members Laurie Bennett and Tim Forde are excellent additions, straining at the leash to make a difference.

I thank all the executive for the many extra hours of Zoom meetings and phone calls that have been required to gain consensus on how to move forward. Already members would have noticed improvements made in some areas and I call on all branches to contribute to improving the cross organisational communication that brings a vitality to our cause.

Some key activities the executive have been participating in.

  • Minister’s letter 
    A letter, largely drafted by Hamish Levack and Howard Moore, was sent to the Minister of Forests Stuart Nash on 3 May, suggesting he support the investigation of options for aggregating the ownership of standing forests owned by small-scale growers. This may be a useful solution for part of the Forestry Industry Transformation Plan in development by the Ministry for Primary Induistries.
  • Forest Growers Levy
    To represent your interests, members of the Executive and others serve on eight sub-committees that decide on levy expenditure. A secretariat of about five staff supports the activities of the board and the committees. Attempts to improve the structure of this arrangement have been continuing for over a year. One result is to be the dis-establishment of the Small and Medium Enterprise Committee. Due to the lack of consultation with the NZFFA, a letter of complaint has been written to the levy board. This is work in progress and there has been close liaison with our board representatives Steve Wilton and Ian Jackson.
  • Levy Promotions Committee
    This committee spends about $900,000 of levy funds annually. Due to the lack of consensus on the direction of its programme, this committee was suspended by the board. As you can see from the above issues, this important structural relationship is going through significant change and questioning. We would like to establish the NZFFA as an equal partner as was envisioned at the inception. This is work in progress.

The Waikato Branch were invited to participate on the Ministry for Primary Industries stand at the National Field Days. Dave Forsythe coordinated this and volunteers mingled with staff on a very large stand 20 metres by four metres in the pavilion. I helped on two days and while we would have liked to have a higher profile on the stand, it has got me thinking that pan-sector-forestry should be there next year. What do you think?

Alternative and contingency species To address the concerns raised about diversifying species throughout the sector, two one-day workshops were held by Forest Growers Research/NZFOA in Wellington on 25 and 26 May. These were attended by Dean Satchell, Angus Gordon, Peter Berg, and myself. This seems to be a first real step toward getting pan sector agreement on this serious strategic concern.

We are committed to building awareness of the issues raised, which are both technical and political.

Thank you, I am very happy to discuss anything further.


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