Maori Trust Takes Over Forestry Company In Tonga

Newly formed Aotearoa-Tonga Forest Products Limited granted lease for ‘Eua Forest Reserve

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 20, 2016) – A Maori Trust from New Zealand has been granted land leases over the ‘Eua Forest Reserve, and at least 50 years control over a former public enterprise Tonga Forest Products Ltd, the Tonga government announced on June 17.

“A Maori Trust representing the interests of two significant Maori Iwis in New Zealand…has agreed to pay $9,737,795 pa’anga [US$4,270,210] in return for the control and management of the company for 50 years, with the option to renew for a further 25 years,” the Ministry of Public Enterprises said in a statement, released through the Prime Minister’s Office.

The government and the Trust agreed to rename the new entity as Aotearoa-Tonga Forest Products Limited.

“The new entity will be granted land leases over the ‘Eua Forest Reserve, Vaitaki Sawmilling Site and Mataliku Forest Plant,” said the statement.

The government expected that as part of the Agreement, the Trust will undertake an aggressive Replanting Scheme on the ‘Eua Forest Reserve, with a focus on the replanting of trees in the first 10 years.

“The Trust has undertaken to implement sustainable forest management and harvesting practices, in order to allow the trees at the ‘Eua Forest to regenerate and grow at sustainable rates,” it stated, while noting that this is the Trust’s first investment in the Pacific. “The Trust brings with it immense experience in the New Zealand forestry industry, with current exports to South-East Asia and China.”

At the end of the term of the agreement, the Trust is to return the assets and business to the government, together with any new improvements or additional assets and businesses that the Trust has established during the term of the Agreement.

The statement said that Board of Directors of Tonga Forest Products Limited are fully supportive of the Agreement between the Government of Tonga and the Trust. 

It also stated that some employees would continue with the company, and those who did not would be offered severance packages.

According to the Ministry of Public Enterprises website the TFPL CEO was Mr. Sevanaia Tawake and board members at January 2016 were, Mr Sione 'Uhilamoelangi Liava'a - Chairman, Dr. Leimoni Taufu'i, and Mr. Lata Tangimana.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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