Sunday, 18 October 2009


There’s a six billion dollar fight over the ETS about to blow up. That’s how much Maori-owned forestry land has been devalued by the ETS.

The issue is the inclusion of pre-1990 forestry in the scheme. That’s trees planted more than 20 years ago – so radiata forests that are ready to be harvested, or slower growing species.

New Zealand is the only country in the world to include these forests in an ETS – no one else is even thinking about doing something so stupid.

Nick Smith’s forestry folly means that if you have one of these forests and it’s time to harvest it, and you want to do something else with the land – like build a wind farm – you have to buy $20,000 of carbon credits for every hectare.

It’s so much, that of course you can’t afford not to replant so your land has to stay in forestry forever. That means its worth much less – about $6 billion less according to the widely respected Federation of Maori Authorities (aka FoMA).

Now you’d think the Maori Party would be all over this issue. New Zealand stands alone as the only country willing to impose massive financial penalties on forestry (and agriculture) in the name of climate change – and these are the sectors where Maori have most of their money tied up.

But we’ve heard on the kumara vine that the Maori Party is of the belief that the Iwi Leaders Forum set up by the Ministry for the Environment supports the inclusion of pre-1990 forests in the ETS.

We hear that in fact most of the members of the Iwi leadership forum are strongly against the forests being in the scheme, but the Ministry for the Environment bureaucrats are telling the politicians the opposite.

So Tariana Turia went on national TV today to say the Maori Party supports the ETS because iwi do.

They don’t. FoMA and the northern tribes are going to be turning up the heat on this issue this week and a few iwi leadership forum members are going to get their heads chopped off in the process. Tariana’s won’t be happy when she finds out she was deceived and managed to piss off most of the main Maori forestry players throughout the country.

At the same time, Ngai Tahu reckons it can come to a separate arrangement that will see them get a bigger cash payout for agreeing to the inclusion.

That is appalling in itself. At a time when they should be standing shoulder to shoulder with all other tribes (and all other forestry owners) they have decided to take a course of action that lines their pockets and does not take into account the economic security of the forestry and agriculture sectors.

Ngai Tahu would do better to look at growing their assets instead of looking for the easy way to stick the government for more cash.

However the good news is that we also understand that the government has started to lose patience with Ngai Tahu and Tainui who seem to act like teenagers still trying to bone ma and pa for some Friday night beer money instead of getting on with working out ways how they can stand on their own financial feet.

They cant keep coming back and finding creative excuses for more hand outs just because they spent all their money on the equivalent of lollies and lotto.

Yet another reason for a change of leadership at the Ngai Tahu's "Table" or ruling council.

So it could prove to be another embarrassing week for the Maori Party if they end up getting blindsided on this issue on top of the MTS debacle.

We can't work out why the Maori Party would even think that the inclusion of pre 1990 forests could ever be a good thing. It is the biggest raupatu since the 19th century and all the main players in Maoridom know it.

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