Maori Carbon Foundation hosted by Minister Jones


Thank you for joining us this morning. The government has an ambitious target.

NZ must plant 100 million trees per year in order to meet the target of one billion trees over a ten year period.

For far too long forestry has been a beauraucratic orphan and traditional farming has been the focus.

The new forestry agency, Te Uru Rakau, a name which appeals to me personally, changes that.

There is a much greater focus on the full potential of forestry.

We should not overlook the fact that commercial forestry is largely foreign owned, greater than 70%.

I know this because a considerable amount of Ngai Tahu treaty settlement land was forest land; we owned the land but not the trees.

The other large stake holder is tangata whenua.

Huge amounts of Maori land is used by commercial forestry investors so it is appropriate that the crown forest agency acknowledges this reality in its name.

The value of this target is multi faceted.

There is the obvious climate change contribution that greater forestry cover represents.

There are also soil conservation and other bio diversity outcomes.

The willingness of the Crown to mix native and exotic in its planting strategy will boost confidence amongst hapu and iwi.

Some have short term imperatives and others have distant visions.

Those visions are as long as it takes for the Totara, Rimu, Matai and Kauri to grow and mature.

There are also the regional development economic outcomes which can flow from a greater supply of timber resources.

I’m not just referring to commodity log exports through our provincial ports, but value added processing to a level of sophistication hitherto unknown in New Zealand, such as paper based products to replace plastic based material.

Our role within this broader NZ inc strategy is very exciting.

We see an amazing future for carbon forestry and we believe that the crown should not be expected to pay disproportionately for the costs of the billion trees strategy.

The NZ Government has an interest in counting all of the sequestration capacity of new forests. It is not however interested in owning sequestration credits itself.

Private capital, domestic or international, can plug the gap as NZ ramps up its planting ambitions.

A key role for the crown however is to provide a set of carbon rules, and offer certainty that encourages groups such as the Maori Carbon Foundation to make investments with Maori landowners.

These rules must be settled sooner rather than later if the current government wants to see substantial planting prior to the 2020 election.

I would remind the Minister there is only two planting seasons to go.

Maori also expect the crown to address the fact that international rules have local impacts.

Going forward we must ensure that climate change reforms do not negatively impact the ambitious planting targets we all share.

Given that the crown is a substantial land owner we will make efforts to partner not only with our own people, but also those crown institutions that hold land.

In this way, public, private, local and foreign interests can contribute to the lofty goal of being carbon neutral in 2050.

The Maori Carbon Foundation is carrying a torch for Maori to achieve in an area which is largely unchartered.

The carbon journey might involve Maori land, Maori labour and the Maori community but the new space is trading, auctioning and taking a punt on futures.

Many is the party that has been burned in this space.

We do not want to see our Maori landowners taken advantage of.

We do have a disproportionate amount of marginal land which will have to be planted in the face of new regulations designed to address water quality and unsuitable farming practises.

Our organisation is made up of four pou.

We have the Maori Carbon Foundation which will take the role of facilitating relationships with our landowners - an important responsibility given the sad history which has effected many maori land owning blocks.

The board comprises a broad mix of individuals passionate about utilising marginal land to deliver economic, environmental, social well being, and cultural benefits to land owners and their communities.

The board members are Hone Harawira, Honourable Murray McCully, Maru Nihoniho, Michelle Boag and our Managing Director Jevan Goulter.

The Foundation will focus on ensuring that Maori landowners are carefully navigated through the carbon journey starting from the process of identifying land, preparing the land, planting the land, through to the management and maintence of the forests and trading of the carbon credits delivering benefits to land owners who participate in the ETS.

Next we have Maori Carbon Planting. This should be self evident as it is a practical response to the Ministers colouful language of getting “the nephs off the couch”.

Whilst the planting work is seasonal it should be and will be properly recompensed and supported so that the work force are put on an escalator and not the washing machine going around and around.

Through this activity we will be looking at other strategies which can create sustainable employment continuing through the non planting season, but equally focussed on utilising our whenua.

You may have heard about our next entity which we announced at our first land owner hui in Kaitaia on Monday 17 almost two weeks ago - the Maori Climate Commission and its inaugural commissioner Donna Awatere Huata.

This body is a bold statement that the 2050 strategy of decarbonising the economy must integrally involve tangata whenua.

Not only are our assets disproportionately land based but our papakainga are located in rural areas which are likely to feel the full brunt of the governments climate change agenda.

The office of the Maori Climate Commissioner will provide independent Maori- focused research and advice that will contribute to Aotearoa meeting its obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement on greenhouse-gas-emissions.

The Commissioner will act independently from the Maori Carbon Foundation as well as any other private or public entity including Government.

Lastly we have the Maori Carbon Social Trust. As the size of our carbon foresty profile grows it is our intention to see part of that financial upside redistributed into those regions and communities.

Our ambitions will challenge the status quo and we intend to address the social needs of the communities in which we operate.

Dealing with these costs takes leadership, which is why it will be chaired by the Hon. Dame Tariana Turia, who will oversee the distribution of funds allocated by MCF to economic, environmental, cultural, social, philanthropic, regional and community projects nationwide.

The Maori Carbon Social Trust will also partner with other private and public entities, including Government and ETS participants, to deliver initiatives into the regions of planting.

Thank you Tariana for joining us today.

To finish off, I want to tell you the most important thing which is what we are offering landowners?

It is a unique opportunity to share in the full gains created by the ETS framework.

We intend to be fully transparent with landowners and to share the carbon credit stream on a 50/50 basis following the break even point of all planting and management costs, which is of course going to change subject to the price of carbon.

This accords with our tikanga and our desire to see these under-utilised assets producing long term, sustainable returns to Māori and non-Māori landowners.

At the conclusion of our 30 year relationship with landowners, our forestry right will cease and the forest will be returned to the landowner.

It will be returned because our model is that we do not harvest the forest.

Instead we are planting permanent carbon sinks giving land owners the opportunity to one day, with the right intervention and management, have a full native forest.

Righ now until the end of the year I will be travelling around the motu presenting this offer to Maori and Pakeha land owners throughout the country.

We started on Monday 17th in Hone’s region up in Kaitaia with more than 100 landowners coming to our hui. Later that day we had another 70 landowners join us in Kaikohe.

On Monday we had a full hall in Wairoa of more than 100 landowners and later that day an additional 100 in Hastings.

This afternoon myself and the team will be in Masterton speaking to more landowners, and tomorrow morning in Dannevirke and then Whanganui tomorrow evening.

I am proud of our offer, and like I say to land owners, if they can find something that beats it then my advice is they should take it.

Whatever initiatives our people take to make productive use of their land can only be a positive thing, regardless of who they do that with, as long as the numbers stack up for them, and the agreements are secure.

Thank you for coming today.

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