Crackdown on swamp Kauri exports

Kauri (File)
Kauri (File)

3 News understands a crackdown is on the way for the controversial practice of exporting swamp Kauri.

It comes as 3 News found footage showing what really happens behind the scenes of extracting the ancient trees.

A video posted by an Italian furniture company gives an insight into the controversial practice of exporting swamp kauri. One log is 18 metres long and 2.5 metres wide, with an amazing weight of more than 50 tonnes.

The log dates back to the Ice Age and is headed for export to Italy. It lay under the mud for more than 42,000 years.

The Kauri is known as the black gold of the Far North.

It is the oldest workable wood in the world and there is only a relatively small amount left.

The law says raw logs can't be exported; however, stumps can and so too can finished products like table tops.

So, how can this giant log be sent offshore?

The weight can be too much even for the powerful engine of a truck and some help from a Caterpillar is needed.

The wood is cut and such wood is cut into huge, one-piece slabs. The exporter says those slabs will be used as giant table tops.

The last job for the Kauri man is to load the large slabs into the container, but the Greens say finished should mean finished.

"The law talks about finished, manufactured products. Slabs of wood with no legs are not finished," says Green Party MP Eugenie Sage.

The exporter told 3 News all shipments were inspected and legal, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) backed that up in statement saying it is rustic table top, adding that MPI regularly checks with this exporter that the law is followed.

MPI says adding varnish, oiling or giving a table legs is okay to do overseas.

"MPI seems to be allowing exporters to make a mockery of our law. If this is the way they are interpreting it, it's a loophole and the minister needs to close it," Ms Sage.

3 News has previously raised a number of questions around other exports, all of which MPI says are legal.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy recently asked for a review of the law.

3 News understands that's finished and the Government will soon announce a crackdown and tighten up the rules.

3 News

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