10 Aug 2011

Government challenged over forestry sale

9:04 pm on 10 August 2011

The Maori Party has challenged the Government in Parliament over sale of forestry blocks to an overseas buyer.

The East Coast land is to be sold from the Trust Company of Australia to Malaysia's Tiong Family for $95 million.

Four of the blocks - the Waiau, West Ho, Moonlight, and Tolaga Forests - are in the wider Gisborne area.

The other, Merriwa Forest, is at Rissington in Hawke's Bay.

Maori Party law and justice spokesperson Rahui Katene said local iwi Ngati Porou should be consulted about forests for sale.

She asked what consultations with tribes would be established by the Government in the future.

But Deputy Prime Minister Bill English responded it is not really the Crown's role to protect or enhance the iwi's commercial interests above how would protect the commercial interest of anyone else in New Zealand.

Mr English says once iwi have their own assets, governance and commercial processes, fundamentally it is up to iwi to advance those interests.