Forestry blunder a 'speed bump' - Forestry Minister Shane Jones

Forestry Minister Shane Jones says a blunder that saw half a million seedlings destroyed is just a 'speed bump' in the One Billion Trees Programme.

The seedlings had been destined for Northland, but the site was so overgrown with scrub and weeds, most of the planting had to be abandoned.

The Government's forestry agency, Te Uru Rakau, bought 1.2 million seedlings but fewer than 200,000 of them could be planted there.

Mr Jones says he's disappointed but not surprised.

"We're planting here in the tameless north, we're not planting in the Garden of Eden so there are going to be challenges."

Half a million seedlings had to be redistributed while another half a million were mulched, wasting $160,000 of taxpayer money.

"Let's not catastrophise it," says Mr Jones.

"160K is probably the value of a backbenchers' salary, something I hope never to see again, thank you very much."

The deal with Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust was the Crown's first joint venture in the One Billion Trees Programme, and they say lessons have been learned.

Trust chairman Pita Tipene admits they were overzealous.

"It was a mistake and we take that on the chin," says Mr Tipene.

"Our spraying regime wasn't as effective as we thought it would be, given that the scrub and the gorse was at least a metre high."

Northland MP Matt King says the land had been overgrown for years and will be hugely expensive to replant.

"This is just a classic example of the waste that's going on in the Provincial Growth Fund, the lack of due diligence, the lack of transparency. This is taxpayers' money."

More than 60 million trees have been planted since the programme was announced, and Mr Jones says this doesn't uproot their plans.

"It's a speed bump in the rolling out of the Billion Trees Programme."

Ngāti Hine Foresty Trust says the same number of trees will still be planted on the land and the Crown will still get the same investment return at harvest.