Tōtara could provide an opportunity for New Zealand to develop a new niche industry producing high value native wood products.
Tōtara is an underused resource within the wood products industry but, despite its economic potential and the abundant supply of it in Northland, the industry has faced a number of barriers preventing its establishment as a market.
Research indicates that a tōtara industry has the potential to produce $7.5 million from tōtara timber per year within three years – that equates to 20 direct jobs and almost 80 indirect jobs. The potential for tōtara to be processed into higher value wood products could increase the value by up to $60 million, with a further 200 direct jobs and 1,750 indirect jobs created.
So what's holding it back? The Tōtara Industry Steering Group plans to find out, with a two-year pilot to investigate how to establish a sustainable tōtara industry in Northland. They'll look into whether these barriers can be overcome, and if so, will facilitate the development of a new sustainable industry.
The project is to be led by the Tōtara Industry Steering Group, which is made up of Scion, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Northland Tōtara Working Group, Tai Tokerau Māori Forests Inc., Northland Inc., an industry representative and an independent chair.
Funding for this $1 million pilot includes $450,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund, and has also secured funding from Scion and Northland Inc.