Ngāi Tahu Holdings sells off harvesting rights of its West Coast forest estate

A Ngāi Tahu forestry block. Photo: Ngai Tahu

Ngāi Tahu Holdings is selling off the harvesting rights of its West Coast forest estate.

New joint venture, Fiera Comox, 85 percent, and Ngāi Tahu, 15 percent, have bought a 35-year cutting right to 45,500 hectares of forestry blocks between Westport and Franz Josef.

The whenua is not included in the sale, which is only for a single rotation of cutting rights, whereafter the forests return fully to Ngāi Tahu ownership.

Based in Canada, Fiera Comox is a global private asset management firm with forestry assets in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Ngāi Tahu Holdings chief executive Todd Moyle said the sale of the cutting right is a pragmatic decision as Ngāi Tahu Holdings continues to adapt to a difficult economic climate whilst also maintaining its commitment to the West Coast.

“Last year we signalled we would be looking to free up additional capital, this is effectively a pre-sale of our trees to give us more certainty and flexibility.

“Ngāi Tahu Holdings has an intergenerational approach, and we remain committed to Te Tai o Poutini for the long term. Our 15 percent share in the joint venture and a director on the board ensures we retain oversight over the operations.”

Moyle said each year, approximately 225,000 cubic metres of softwoods, such as pinus radiata, were harvested across West Coast plantations.

The trees are sold to both domestic and export markets.

Ngāi Tahu said the deal protected log supply agreements with West Coast sawmills and the existing office in Greymouth will remain.

The deal is subject to approval from the Overseas Investment Office, which will likely take a few months to complete.