14 Aug 2009

Visiting Papuan activist praises NZ retailers who've stopped selling kwila hardwood

7:29 am on 14 August 2009

A West Papuan human rights activist visiting New Zealand has thanked local outdoor furniture retailers who have stopped selling products made of illegally-sourced kwila, or merbau, hardwood from Indonesia's Papua region.

Paula Makabori from the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights, says Australia and New Zealand could play a vital role in addressing the deteriorating human rights situation and recent upsurge of violence in her homeland.

Ms Makabori says the two countries also shouldn't remain silent on the rampant deforestation underway in Papua, much of which is illegal.

But she has singled out praise for the New Zealand-based Indonesia Human Rights Committee which has successfully lobbied some retailers to stop selling products with kwila.

"At this time, I think I would like to thank too retailers in Auckland who support the campaign to stop buying kwila, or merbau log (from Papua). Because for West Papuans, log or forests is not about business luck or bad luck, it's about your life and death."