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BUSINESS PROFILE

“We have a long-term view when it comes to our use of the land, and we are very environmentally conscious.” L E E S S EY M O U R

Golden Downs: partnership in action B Y J A C Q U I E WA LT E R S

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rue partnership is something to which many companies and organisations aspire. Iwi landowner Ngāti Toa Rangatira and local forest company Nelson Management Ltd (NML*—the management company for the Nelson Forests estate) are working together to embody the ethos of partnership in the Golden Downs forest. Golden Downs is a 33,000ha area of forest estate that most people are only familiar with because they pass through it, either heading south from Nelson towards Murchison or on their way to the West Coast. Many people are unaware of the rich history of forest planting and harvesting in the area—and the rich cultural significance of the whenua itself. Two years ago Ngāti Toa reached settlement of its claims under the Treaty of Waitangi. Part of that settlement was that Ngāti Toa would receive 50 percent of the Crown Forest licence area in the top of the South Island. That in turn meant that it then owned 83 percent of the land in the area that is known as Golden Downs. The Ngāti Toa iwi’s management 68

is based in Wellington; NML, as the company that plants, grows and harvests the trees in Golden Downs, knew that it needed to reach out to the new landowner and establish a constructive working relationship from the outset. “Under the Crown Forest licence structure forestry companies have 35 years to harvest all the trees on the land that iwi owners have had returned to them as part of the settlement process,” says Managing Director of NML Lees Seymour. “As the company harvests, it must offer the land back to the iwi, and the iwi then decides whether it will be used for something else, or if the forest owner can continue to plant and harvest on the land, paying a rental for the licence to do that. Ngāti Toa were very clear from the outset that they wanted us to continue, and that clarity has helped us a great deal.” Lees says that shared values between Ngāti Toa and NML, and clarity of purpose for both parties meant that the relationship got off to a good start. “We have a long-term view when it comes to our use of the land, and we

are very environmentally conscious. For us this was the beginning of at least a thirty-year relationship and we worked to develop trust and establish common ground from the start,” says Lees. Ngāti Toa Rangatira Executive Director Sir Matiu Te Rei shares this view. “We are very pleased and happy to be working with NML. They are a very good company, with a strategic plan that complements our outlook for the future,” says Sir Matiu. Part of NML’s role was educational, in the sense of helping Ngāti Toa to understand the forestry business. Inviting Ngāti Toa representatives to be honoured guests at the 60th anniversary of the first tree planting by local children in Coronation Forest within Golden Downs was significant, says Lees. “Ngāti Toa Executive Director Sir Matiu Te Rei and others from Ngāti Toa could see our values and beliefs in action and see how we interact with our community. ” NML also worked with Ngāti Toa on another significant community initiative, providing access for Tasman’s Great Taste Trail to pass across land owned by the iwi. “Ngāti Toa were very happy to help and easy to deal with,” says Lees. The Great Taste Trail is an initiative of Tasman District Council and the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trail Trust. It is providing a community recreational facility and, alongside the region’s mountain biking trails, positioning Nelson-Tasman as a leading cycle tourism and recreational destination. When complete, the Great Taste Trail will be a 174km loop passing through some of the region’s stunning coastal and inland areas. With the recent opening of the Spooners Tunnel section there is now more than 100km of predominantly off-road trail open to the public. Gillian Wratt, Chair of the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trail Trust says that “the support from NML in having their contractor, Taylors Construction, work on the access route to Spooners Tunnel, was instrumental in matching Council funds to get this section of the Trail open. The support of NML and Ngāti Toa were key in

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Wild Tomato July 2016  

WildTomato is Nelson & Marlborough's magazine.We focus on inspiring journalism, stunning photography and beautiful design. www.wildtomato.co...

Wild Tomato July 2016  

WildTomato is Nelson & Marlborough's magazine.We focus on inspiring journalism, stunning photography and beautiful design. www.wildtomato.co...