The Coming of the Pines

The European discovery of New Zealand resulted in excessive depletion of existing forests as large tracts of bush were cleared for the development of towns and farms.

By 1913 a Royal Commission of Forestry had concluded- (1)  a forestry service should be established to bring order to the  logging of native forests.  (2) native species were not suited to management. (3) An exotic Pine forest resource should be developed to maintain the supply of wood for internal use.

This decision was the springboard for a large scale pine afforestation programme in New Zealand.
The outbreak of the First World War delayed the main thrust of  the campaign to restore New Zealand’s self sufficiency in Timber.

However, by 1925 planting had begun in earnest, a large proportion on the abandoned pumice lands of the central North Island.

New Zealand Afforestation Ltd was one of a large number of tree planting companies involved in the campaign. This bond selling enterprise started in March 1923 and within two months it had formed a second company, New Zealand Perpetual forests Ltd, to assist with pine establishment in the South Waikato region. Other companies were formed under the Perpetual Forests banner.

Manmade exotic forests (mostly radiata pine) were established at an incredible rate with state and private interests planting nearly 300,000 hectares from 1923-1936.

In 1935, NZ Forest Products Ltd, was formed to take over the forests and affairs of the Perpetual Forests group companies.

NZFP decided that processing and marketing of forest products were more lucrative markets than selling trees.
NZFP”S first sawmill was established in Waotu in 1939. In 1940, a sawmill and wooden casemill were commissioned in Penrose and in 1941 NZ’s first insulating board mill opened at the same site.

New Zealand was still recovering from the great Depression  and with the threat of war looming Perpetual Forests Limited, which owned most of the forest land in the South Waikato, went into voluntary liquidation. Large blocks of exotic forest were sold. New Zealand Forest Products purchased much of the land, setting up mills in Putaruru and Tokoroa. The company broke new ground when New Zealand’s first chemical wood pulp was produced at Kinleith, with the first kraft paper produced in 1954.

At its peak NZFP was New Zealand’s largest forest industry company with thousands of employees, more than 200,000 hectares of forest holdings, manufacturing and merchandising centres throughout the country.