Environmental destruction and the blatant abuse of the law by National Party-linked businesses are at the heart of swamp kauri exports from the far north.
Contractors are destroying Northlands remaining wetlands and polluting local waterways as they rip out kauri preserved for tens of thousands of years. The kauri logs and stumps fetch huge prices, particularly in China where the age of the wood is a key selling point.
One of the biggest companies involved is Oravida Kauri Limited – a subsidiary of dairy exporter Oravida Limited – which has National MP Judith Collins’s husband as a director.
The problem for such National Party linked businesses is that under New Zealand law indigenous swamp timber can only be exported if it is deemed to be a “finished product”.
This ban is in place to ensure the wood is processed here, providing jobs and employment to locals in an area of very high unemployment.
Bugger that says National!
The wood is more valuable to exporters in the raw state so for years they have been cutting the logs into 120mm slabs – polishing one side and then exporting them as “table tops” – to be properly processed once they are offloaded overseas.
More recently local exporters have been chiselling a bit of the surface of these logs and claiming the finished product is a sculpture”.
Everyone knows it’s a rort. The value being exported is the wood – not a pretend table top or so-called “artwork” chiselled on its surface by a local company manager.
But this week Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy waded in and applauded the practice of exporting these “sculptures” as “a good way to promote the country”.
He’s quoted as saying –
“They are finished products, I have seen some fantastic-looking kauri swamp logs being carved and they’re going to be an amazing feature for our country and an international country that they’re destined for. So we manage it very, very closely.”
What Guy means is that through abuse of the law he’s managing to maximise profits for National Party related businesses at the expense of jobs in New Zealand and the Northland environment.
Judith Collins has never shown any interest in wetlands but she has shown herself to be mistress of cronyism – using her former ministerial position to promote the private business interests of her husband.
This week Nathan Guy joined her in the muck at the bottom of the National Party barrel.