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Ngai Tahu sells cutting rights for West Coast Plantations

Ngāi Tahu Holdings in New Zealand has agreed to sell 35-year cutting rights of its West Coast Plantations to a new joint venture comprising Fiera Comox (85%) and Ngai Tahu (15%). Source: Timberbiz

The land is not included in the sale, which is only for a single rotation of cutting rights, whereafter the forests return fully to Ngāi Tahu ownership.

The investment marks the initial acquisition by Fiera Comox’s Global Sustainable Timberland Strategy, which invests in high-quality, private forests globally. The Timberland Strategy is led by a team of professionals who have acquired over two million acres of timberland in transactions representing several billion dollars in value.

Both organisations say the move is positive for the region, with Fiera Comox bringing global expertise to a significant industry for Te Tai o Poutini (the West Coast).

Ngāi Tahu Holdings Chief Executive Todd Moyle welcomes the partnership.

“We’re looking forward to building a successful long-term relationship with Fiera Comox, which has an established track record of working with Indigenous groups in both Aotearoa and Canada.”

Antoine Bisson-McLernon, Partner and CEO, Fiera Comox said they were delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Ngāi Tahu in one of the most attractive and globally competitive softwood producing regions in the world.

Each year, approximately 225,000 m3 of softwoods, such as pinus radiata, are harvested across West Coast plantations. The trees are sold to both domestic and export markets.

Todd Moyle says the sale of the cutting right is a pragmatic decision as Ngāi Tahu Holdings continues to adapt to a difficult economic climate whilst also maintaining its commitment to the West Coast.

“Last year we signalled we would be looking to free up additional capital. This is effectively a pre-sale of our trees to give us more certainty and flexibility,” Bisson-McLeron said.

“Ngāi Tahu Holdings has an intergenerational approach, and we remain committed to Te Tai o Poutini for the long term. Our 15% share in the joint venture and a director on the board ensures we retain oversight over the operations.”

Poutini Ngāi Tahu Co-Chairs Francois Tumahai (Ngāti Waewae) and Paul Madgwick (Ngāti Māhaki ki Makaawhio) support the move.

“Ngāi Tahu Forestry owns 45,500 ha of forest blocks across 20 forests between Westport and Franz Josef, so we’re especially pleased this deal protects an ongoing log supply to West Coast sawmills and all kaimahi can choose to retain their roles,” said Francois Tumahai.

Ngāi Tahu access rights to the land will also be maintained, with Fiera Comox committed to preserving and safeguarding wāhi tapu sites and places of cultural importance.

The joint venture will be retaining the existing office in Greymouth.

The deal is subject to approval from the Overseas Investment Office, which will likely take a few months to complete.