Ardern unveils forestry hub for district
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern used a visit to Rotorua last Thursday to announce plans to establish a new Forestry Service in the city, if Labour forms the next government.
During a visit to the Red Stag timber processing company, Ardern said the creation of the standalone forestry service would provide stability for investment in processing and manufacturing wood onshore, rather than exporting raw logs.
‘‘Forestry is our third largest export sector, but there has been a dramatic switch away from processing to exporting raw logs. While 3000 jobs in wood processing and manufacturing have been lost since 2008, raw log exports have tripled.
‘‘I grew up in the forestry town of Murupara, and I know the importance of this industry for many communities.
‘‘Labour wants to bring the Government’s wood policy to the heart of forestry country by establishing a New Zealand Forest Service in Rotorua, replacing functions currently carried out in Wellington. It will be responsible for implementing a National Forestry Strategy, growing its own commercial forests as appropriate for the strategy, and helping other land owners who want to convert to forestry.’’
After the Red Stag visit, Ardern spoke to supporters at Rotorua’s Central Mall alongside Rotorua Labour candidate Ben Sandford and Labour Waiariki candidate Tamati Coffey.
‘‘It’s wonderful to be back in Rotorua and talking about something we should have been talking about for nine years, jobs in the regions,’’ she said.
‘‘Rotorua sits at the heart of the forestry industry and we’re bringing it out of Wellington and here.’’
Ardern again referred to her upbringing in Murupara, citing it as the catalyst for her entry to politics.
‘‘[Murupara] was a town that looked after each other, but was abandoned by Government.
‘‘I’m in politics because of what I’ve seen and I think we can change this.’’
Ardern’s visit was also welcomed by Eduardo Dias and son Leandro - who got to meet the Labour leader.
‘‘I’m a labour supporter from way back,’’ the Rotorua resident, originally from Mexico, said.
‘‘In the last few years Rotorua has been moving in a positive direction, but we need a change to make it even better and that’s Jacinda and Labour.’’