A pilot scheme offered by Te Puni Kokiri, to maori landowners, as an alternative to pastoral farming was trialled in Taitokerau. The Taitokerau people wished to expand the scheme however the Government insisted it be offered to other Iwi groups first.
A former Ngati Porou Director, Mr Mike Corrigan, approached Ngati Porou about extending the scheme to the North Island’s East Coast. After several meetings, land suitability research and a trip to Taitokerau, the scheme was rolled out to the East Coast in 1989 and Ngati Porou Forests Limited was born.
The project was funded by the Government with the original agreement comprising approximately 10,000 hectares. Five properties identified for the first plantings - Awatere, Harakeke, Hoia, Kiwinui and Tarere. These were collectively referred to as the “Pioneer Blocks” and this name is still used as a term by older staff members and Directors today.
In 1989 Hoia, Tarere and parts of Awatere and Kiwinui were planted. The rest of Awatere, Kiwinui and Harakeke were planted the following year.
Shortly after 1989 the Government moved to stop financing such schemes. Fortunately, Ngati Porou lawyers established the initial contract was binding and a compromise was agreed. $4.5 million dollars was offered to continue planting for those land blocks that had an expectation to plant, silviculture money to maintain the integrity of the first plantings and funds to search for a longer-term financier to reach the initial goal of 10,000 hectares.
Three possible Joint Venture partners were considered before finally settling with Hansol, a South Korean company looking for long term wood supply. Of the other potential partners, one was a signatory to the Forest Accord that specifically prevented the clearing of Kanuka and the other opted to finance a project in South America.
On Saint Valentine’s Day in 1996 at Rahui Marae, Tikitiki a Joint Venture between Ngati Porou Whanui Forests, Hansol, the Minister of Forests, Pakeke and land owner representatives was signed.
The Joint Venture outlined that NPWFL was to supply the land with Hansol financing the work. The agreement being that the Stumpage (Profit) at harvest would be split between the Joint Venture’s three parties according to their relative inputs. The Landowners share would be based on the value of their land and any improvements contribute to the deal, NPWFL for their contribution of funding the land clearing programme and Hansol for the costs associated with bringing a forest thru to harvest.
To date 38 forest blocks have been established under the Ngati Porou Whanui Forests - Hansol Joint Venture. The largest being Mangaotane, to the west of Mangatu Forest and the remaining forests situated from Mangatuna in the south to Te Araroa in the north. The first of these forests were planted in 1989 and continued until 2003. The first forest was harvested between 2014-2016.
To further expand the forests another Joint Venture was signed with Sustainable Forest Management Ltd to take advantage of the Carbon Forest opportunities. Land was recruited and in 2008 a Eucalyptus forest established on Pakihiroa Station. The following year as the Global Financial Crisis escalated and Sustainable Forest Management Ltd failed. This left NPWFL with a Carbon Forest and still seeking a Financial Partner to expand its Forest Estate.
Whai Dewes, Selwyn Parata, Teepa Wawatai, Owen Lloyd, Victor Goldsmith and Te Kapunga Dewes are the current Directors of Ngati Porou Forests. Past Directors include - Mike Corrigan, Ned Ihaka, Bill Donnelly, Koro Dewes, Kodi Pewhairangi, Tina Porou, and John McGee.
Daniel Williams is the current General Manager of Ngai Porou Forests. Past General Managers include - The company General Managers have been Ned Ihaka, Allan Hampshire, Bryan McKinlay, Chris Insley, Bill Wheeler, Tina Porou.
Ngati Porou Whanui Forests Ltd is a limited liability company. The shareholders are the landowner blocks that have signed forest rights with the Company.