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Newsletter 151, May 2024

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In this issue


I want to start a register of farming and forestry equipment purchased recently by recipients of our newsletter. I’m interested to hear via an email to my own email address of any machinery or power tool purchases that have been made by readers, in the last six months. I would like to know the make and model of each purchase regardless of brand.
Vaughan Kearns


For more information on these events, they are posted on the NZFFA website »
Branch secretaries, please make sure you notify head office of any branch or action group events.

Alternatives to Pine on your farm - free field days

Want to grow some trees on your farm, but not pines?  Come and see some great examples at free field days starting in March.

Learn about the benefits of planting alternative species.

NZ Farm Forestry members will share their experiences of what grows well and where, success and failure, costs and returns.  They are showcasing farm forestry across the country.

Hosted by the NZFFA, with support from Te Uru Rākau – NZ Forest Service, the 3-hour field days will be held on:

29 May  Wellsford
11 May  Bulls
27 June Hastings
5 May Otorohanga
30 May Marlborough
1 June Kerikeri
8 June Raethihi
TBA Mid Otago
TBA Ashburton

Enrol here. Everyone is welcome.

Further Information here »

Forest Growers Levy - Roadshows about the coming referendum

The Forest Growers Levy must be renewed every 6 years or it will lapse. To renew it, the Levy Trust must hold a referendum of all forest owners who are likely to be paying the levy over the coming period. The Referendum is scheduled for October this year.

Eligible voters are those who own forests which

  • could be harvested in the next six years,
  • cover more than four contiguous hectares of trees, and which
  • are at least ten years old.

To explain the process and the implications, the Levy Trust is hosting a series of roadshows around the country. If you think you are affected, or that you are eligible to vote, please take the time to attend one of these events. The full schedule is shown on

Since these roadshows are rather early, we may hold our own series of branch meetings to cover the subject later in the year. When we have organised that we’ll let you know.


The Napier conference

To put the Napier Conference In a nutshell, we had four fine days and one dull one without much rain, the organisation was smooth and the company was great. The programme covered meetings of the special interest groups, a Council meeting, the AGM, various presentations and dinners, and the field days.

The proceedings of the special interest groups will appear in their own newsletters, while the Award winners, field trips and a lot of the technical stuff will be reported in the next Tree Grower. This is a quick once-over of the Council meeting.

No changes to the Executive

We had elections for the Executive, where Laurie Bennett was reappointed unopposed while Dougal Morrison challenged Tim Forde for the North Island position but failed with dignity. Both Dougal and Tim are good men, and it’s gratifying to find there are people of their quality wanting to be on the Executive.

More indigenous forests

Neil Cullen and Graham West outlined the work being done by our contracted Chief Operating Officer, Matt Highway. He has been working on two different approaches. First, he opened discussions with MPI about how the NZFFA might help them achieve their goals and found that one of their real concerns is how to establish more native forests. MPI has a high regard for the NZFFA and would like our help. Initial thoughts are that MPI might fund a major upgrade to the NZFFA website in order to reach more people interested in trees, provided we included more information on native forest nurseries, planting techniques, protection and management. We’ve started exploring this.

More sponsorship

Second, Matt has reviewed sponsorship opportunities for the NZFFA. He has created a list of possibilities, but found that we do not have a formal prospectus that sets out what we can offer third parties. It should include our aspirations and values as well as our membership numbers and wider reach, and the Executive is working to have an agreed draft of that by the middle of next month. Meanwhile Vaughan Kearns, acting as the de-facto sponsorship manager, has developed a strong relationship with Stihl. Two of their executives attended the Conference, handed out the North and South Island Farm Forester of the Year awards, and generally had a good time. So that we have some positive information to feed back to Stihl, Vaughan is interested in learning what sort and brand of power tools NZFFA members are buying.  We plan to include a short survey included in the next newsletter. 

Levy renewal

Later this year there will be a referendum on renewing the Forest Growers’ Levy, which must be reviewed every 6 years; and we are using this as an opportunity to negotiate with the Levy Secretariat to increase support for the NZFFA and improve some aspects of levy administration. Those discussions will take a while but in the meantime Councillors were asked if they supported (i) an increase in the levy, (ii) widening the representation on the Levy Board, and (iii) more money for the Association. There was general approval.

After this excitement the AGM was fairly bland.

Peter Davies-Colley discussing low impact harvesting at conference

Ocean beach Kauri, 10 years old

Howard Moore


Survey of rural decision makers

The Survey of Rural Decision Makers for 2023 has been published by Landcare Research. See the results here »

Picking through the results, do any of you find that this information resonates?

Lack of confidence in the people making regulations – where have I heard that before?

And it looks like this one has implications for our membership. Leaving aside accidental death, apparently one sixth of us plan to step away from the business, or downsize in the next two years. That can’t be right. I would raise a protest if I could find my teeth.



Alternative species field days

Field days to encourage landowners to plant more alternative species have been run on the West Coast, and in Balclutha, Rangiora, Winton, Whanganui, Gisborne, Waikanae, Taupo, Te Puke and Masterton. The weather was generally fine, the events seem to have been very successful, and Te Uru Rakau – NZ Forest Service staff appear to be quite happy with the results.

Feedback from the organisers has ranged from the cryptic

“Field-day was very successful. Two new members” the more detailed...

“We had a really successful field day yesterday at Knapdale. We had over 50 people attending and most stayed on till 17:30. The last ones left at 19:00.... a Maori organisation paid for a videographer to be flown from Wellington for 2 nights and a day at Knapdale so it all got recorded and that should be proof to MPI that our field day was well attended.”

And finally to the really impressed “I just wanted to write and thank you for the fantastic event you co-ordinated in the Grey Valley on Saturday. You were able to show case a fantastic array of species through the visits to the two properties and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss the wins and failures of different options with the group. Malcolm Blair’s Redwoods were a highlight. The information packs provided and the lunch you organised was fantastic too. Thank you for all your work to deliver this great event. I appreciate it would have taken a lot of time.”

Doesn’t it warm your heart?

So far around 200 have attended and just over 100 have given us feedback, of which just over half were farmers:

This is what they were interested in – planning, carbon and native trees featured highly:

More reports and photos will come in and there are another 10 events to run in May and June, so we will post updates in the next couple of newsletters as well. Here are some of the pictures from Peter Marshall at Taupo:

Howard Moore


President: Neil Cullen

Newsletter editor: Dean Satchell

National Office: Liz Chamberlain Phone: 04 4720432

NZFFA Executive »

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Disclaimer: Personal views expressed in this newsletter are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the NZ Farm Forestry Association.

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