17 Jun 2015

Swamp kauri changes possible - Minister

6:19 pm on 17 June 2015

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has conceded that the way swamp kauri is regulated for export could be improved.

Digger unearthing ancient kauri.

A digger unearths ancient kauri. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

His concession comes after the mining and export of the kauri was criticised by conservationists and labelled "exploitation" of "New Zealand taonga" by some Maori.

He had previously said that carved kauri logs sent overseas would enhance the country's standing internationally.

In Parliament today, Green MP Eugenie Sage asked Mr Guy why, if the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) took its responsibility seriously, important information was missing from 80 percent of the kauri export applications it processed in 2013.

She was refused leave to table MPI export records obtained by the Northland Environmental Protection Society.

Mr Guy said, in the past 18 months, MPI had approved 80 consignments of swamp kauri for export and turned down six.

"Yesterday, I requested further advice from MPI on improvements that can be made in managing the milling and exporting of swamp kauri," he said.

Swamp kauri logs may not be legally exported but stumps, carvings and other finished objects can be.

Conservationists have alleged that logs have been lightly engraved so that they may be classed as carvings and then exported.

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