Hitting the trees: National slam Shane Jones over forestry bungle

  • 13/11/2018

Northland's MP has slammed the Forestry Minister for a major tree planting blunder in the Far North.

More than a million pine seedlings were bought for a block of land that ended up being too choked with scrub and weed to be fully utilised.

Instead, only 191,000 seedlings could be planted - potentially costing the taxpayer up to $400,000 based on their market rates.

National MP Matt King says Mr Jones could have avoided the situation by simply visiting the land.

"All you really have to do is have someone who knows what they're talking about go out and visit the property," he told RadioLIVE on Tuesday.

"They haven't done their homework. It's been several years since the last lot of trees were harvested and the growth of scrub and rubbish on the country meant that the land now has to be cleared and that means three lots of spraying and crushing of the growth so they can actually get the trees in the ground."

Mr King says he's been told a large amount of the seedlings had to be destroyed - which is "not a great deal for taxpayers at all".

"What Shane Jones needs to do is be upfront with these provincial growth fund applications. He needs to disclose what the details are," he says.

"I've got no problem with money being spent and invested in Northland, I welcome it, but I think it's fair to the taxpayer that those deals being done are above board."

Mr Jones told NZME it was known "some of the land was going to be a challenge" and he had a "clear conscience".

"I did not shirk from being very eager and ambitious," he said. "It's a part of the north that's been neglected too long."