Kauri 'table tops' too rough - Peters

8:28 pm on 14 July 2015

The MP for Northland, Winston Peters, says new rules to regulate the swamp kauri trade will do nothing to stop exports of timber that are prohibited by the Forests Act.

A listing on Ali Baba under the heading: 'Ancient KAURI Tabletop for dining or boardroom'.

A listing on Chinese-based website Ali Baba under the heading: 'Ancient kauri tabletop for dining or boardroom'. Photo: Ali Baba

Mr Peters said the changes announced by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, following an internal inquiry, were "self-serving nonsense" designed to disguise the fact that the law had been repeatedly broken.

The New Zealand First leader said the law did not allow the sale of unfinished swamp kauri products and calling planks "table tops" did not get around it.

"I'd invite the Minister, Mr Guy, to slide his rear end down these rough-hewn slabs and tell me that they're finished. He'll have splinters everywhere," he said.

Mr Peters said if Mr Guy had a legal opinion saying 5 metre long logs and so-called table tops qualified as legal exports under the Act, he should produce it. And if he couldn't do so, he should resign.

These are the latest in a string of comments made by MPs and political parties since the Minister made his announcement yesterday.

The MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Kelvin Davis, said the changes wouldn't stop the damage being done to wetlands at the beginning of the extraction process.

"If the wetland is disturbed, the wetland would be irreparably damaged because they dig through the iron pan, the water will drain away," he said.

The Green Party, meanwhile, said jobs processing swamp kauri would continue to be lost overseas, despite the tighter export rules for the ancient timber.

The Greens' primary industry spokesperson Eugenie Sage said the new regime would continue to allow unfinished products to leave the country.

Nathan Guy examines kauri slabs and table tops with Kaihu mill and gallery owner Nelson Parker.

Nathan Guy examines kauri slabs and table tops with Kaihu mill and gallery owner Nelson Parker. Photo: RNZ/ Lois Williams

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