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From trees to timber

Dean Satchell, New Zealand Tree Grower February 2014.

Farm Forestry Timbers, the NZFFA’s newest and first nationwide branch, co-hosted the annual action group weekend held in Wanganui in November last year. The theme was quite different from the traditional tree hugging growers’ get-together, with adding value to specialty timbers a feature of the weekend and of significant interest to the group of growers present.

Eastown Timber Processors, in collaboration with Vaughan Kearns of Ruapehu Sawmills, provided a range of processing options and practical demonstrations of value adding to raw timber. Vaughan has an impressive stock of timber, mostly cypress, redwood and eucalypt, with much of it sourced from logs provided by farm foresters and now marketed nationwide.

This was followed by a visit to a local joinery workshop where there were discussions on the potential for our local timbers to meet the high standards of timber joiners and the needs of their customers. This was then followed by an evening dinner with a woodworker and architect speaking about what they saw as the market potential for locally grown specialty timbers.

The next morning there was a discussion on sawmilled and re-assembled logs of acacia, redwood, eucalypt and cypress. This was very educational for growers as it showed them what is required to produce quality timber out of a log and what to expect from their efforts.

Doing it right

What emerged out of the weekend was that ‘doing things right’ every step of the way is crucial to making money out of growing and processing wood. A quality product is essential if we are to develop high-value markets. This is what Farm Forestry Timbers is all about, sharing experience and expertise on how to do it right. There is plenty of information on the website and the experts are happy to share their knowledge. The way forward involves collaboration and co-operation.

Rob O’Keefe’s joinery workshop in Wanganui – Rob has a reputation for quality craftmanship and is interested in using more locally grown specialty timbers

Currently there are 18 pages of listings in the web marketplace. This is a good start for the first year and provides buyers and sellers the opportunity to connect with each other in their region. Promotion of the marketplace is essential to ensure that awareness of this service grows.

However, being a voluntary affair, efforts could be improved. We have 200 members and we held our first AGM via unconventional means online in December. Members need to think not just about what membership provides for them, but also how they can contribute to the group and improving the market share for our locally grown specialty timbers.


Filleting some ironbark eucalypt, sawn by Ruapehu Sawmills, at Eastown Timber Processors, Wanganui
Oak floor at Neil McIntosh’s, Wanganui, from locally grown oak

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