Friday Offcuts – 4 December 2015

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So – the “climate circus” has begun. This time six years ago it was Copenhagen. Around 15,000 people were meant to turn up to the global climate summit but the host nation was completely overwhelmed when some 35,000 delegates and observers tried to get into the talks. The result, as anticipated, was a fiasco. Word is that when Obama finally arrived at the talks, Clinton said that it was the most chaotic event she had attended since her eighth-grade student council elections.

Six years later we’ve got representatives and leaders from around 200 countries meeting in Paris. The mission - to try and reach a deal to halt climate change. Numbers attending are even higher than those meeting in Copenhagen. The expectation this time is probably also higher with those participating wanting to reach some sort of lasting accord. Countries are better prepared this time with most nations setting their reduction targets in advance. Separate deals have also already been done with some of the larger players – in terms of economic heft and emissions - China, the US, India, and Europe, Brazil and South Africa.

With 40-45,000 involved you’d have to question though just what’s going to come out of the two weeks of discussions by the time the talks conclude on 11 December. The feeling coming out of Paris already is cautious optimism. What we can reasonably expect to get out of Paris is a commitment to some sort of agreement with legal force, but not an agreement with legally binding ambitious targets. You can also expect years more of negotiations about the detailed rules. For those interested, you can keep up with the play through the UN Climate Change website

We’ve got a few good news stories out of the region this week on promotions and initiatives around the many benefits that forestry bring to the economy, to the environment and to the community. In Australia AFPA have seized the opportunity of the approaching Christmas season and the climate change talks to deliver real trees to decorate the Federal Parliament House in Canberra – the idea being to highlight the positive contribution that the forest products industry is making to climate change.

In New Zealand, a new NZ Wood advertising campaign was also launched on Tuesday. The concept, “Love our Forests” is going to underpin national promotions using billboards and a coordinated print campaign. It’s planned to run through to March/April 2016 so keep an eye out for our industry advertising as you're out and about and travelling across the country this summer.

Finally, we’ve got another warning - this time out of Australia – about the looming skills shortages that the industry’s facing. Currently few students in Australia are taking up post graduate study in forestry after completing their undergraduate degrees. Better career options elsewhere, a bad public image of the industry and little desire by younger students along with a perceived lack of future career options are been seen as barriers to attracting the right students into the industry.

Interestingly and as an aside, at the recently completed ForestTECH 2015 event, senior resource managers from both Australia and New Zealand commented on the changing skill set now being sought out by forestry companies. Natural resource skills that traditionally have come from our University trained foresters weren’t so much being looked for. In forest inventory and resource management, increasingly as staff are working with "big data", forestry managers accordingly are looking for mathematicians, biometricians, statisticians… One major forest inventory company in this region commented that the last employee taken on was a specialist in computer gaming to work with them to collect and process their forestry data.

The same applies to wood products. In the past resource foresters have often gone into management positions with wood processing and manufacturing companies. Increasingly young people with PLC, mechatronics, programming, simulation analysis and problem solving skills are being sought out. Just maybe the training and skill sets that are now required by the forest products industry are changing as well. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Tasmanian treasure rediscovered

We covered a story last week on the Tasmanian underwater logging. The harvesting of specialty Tasmanian timbers standing underwater for decades in lakes created after flooding for hydro-electric schemes are now being salvaged as part of a pioneering Tasmanian project - Hydrowood.

The project was officially opened last week by Federal Member for Braddon, Brett Whiteley MP. The project is expected to provide access to a unique subset of Tasmania’s highly-valued specialty timbers for furniture designers, woodworkers and high-end residential and commercial construction.

A feasibility study funded by Hydro Tasmania and the State Government in 2012 demonstrated positive results, leading to the Federal Government providing AU$5 million from its Tasmanian Jobs and Growth package to see the project come to fruition.

“This is a very exciting day for Hydrowood and for Tasmania, to finally see these amazing timbers able to be harvested and developed to their full potential,” Hydrowood director Andrew Morgan said.

“This project is a great example of Government and Hydro Tasmania working with the private sector to facilitate new industries for the State, off the back of innovative technology and Tasmanian advanced manufacturing expertise,” Mr Morgan said.

Covered under internationally recognised forestry standards, Hydrowood will be sold to customers as certified product with a story to tell. The timber is being sourced from Lake Pieman on Tasmania’s West Coast near Rosebery. Timbers recovered include Celery Top Pine, Sassafras, Myrtle, Eucalyptus and Blackwood.

Tasmanian suppliers and manufacturers including Taylor Brothers, William Adams, Cawthorn Welding and Aquatruck, were used wherever possible for the establishment of the venture. “We have developed underwater harvesting practices designed to minimise impact by utilising specialist equipment, procedures and technology,” according to Hydrowood director David Wise.

The operations are occurring up to 28m underwater, so safety and environmental management has been of utmost importance, and we have worked closely with Hydro Tasmania to achieve best practice,” he said.

The properties of the previously submerged timber is what is particularly exciting for furniture makers and woodworkers. “They’ve described it as like cutting butter, and are really excited about the provenance of the timber and how it can add to the uniqueness of their projects.

There is a huge amount of excitement around the future uses of Hydrowood,” Mr Wise said. Worldwide there are an estimated 300 million trees submerged in dams constructed during the 1950s and 1980s from the creation of hydro-electric schemes and water storage. Often flooded with little salvage being undertaken, this forest resource worldwide is estimated to be worth up to $50 billion. In Tasmania, there remain large areas of untapped forest resource submerged in hydro dams.

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Christmas trees arrive at Australian Parliament House

As the Paris climate change talks commence, the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) has taken the opportunity to deliver real Christmas trees to Federal Parliament House.

As well as celebrating Christmas, the tree delivery is aimed at highlighting the positive contribution forest products industries can make to climate change. The President of the Senate the Hon Stephen Parry and the Speaker of the House of Representatives the Hon Tony Smith have both agreed to display real Christmas trees.

AFPA Chief Executive Officer Mr Ross Hampton said, “Each tree is just one small example of all trees grown in our commercial plantations and forests around Australia. Each year more than 40 million trees are planted in our commercial plantation forests ensuring that our Australian forestry operations are completely sustainable.”

“These modestly sized trees represent the multiple benefits of our industries. As well as providing timber, each of these trees has removed some 18 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during its growth and is storing around 5 kilograms of carbon in roots, branches and trunk; the equivalent to the emissions from driving almost 100 kilometres in the average Australian car”.

“Australia’s 2 million hectares of plantation forests captures almost 13 megatonnes of carbon dioxide every year, providing a carbon emissions offset equivalent to around 2.5% of Australia’s net carbon emissions. This makes managed forests and commercial plantations, as well as the wood, paper and other products they provide, the only carbon positive sector of the economy,” said Mr Hampton.

“This December our Federal Parliamentarians are celebrating not only a truly real, traditional Christmas, but also showing their support for the 120,000 Australians who proudly work in the full value chain of forestry with its sustainable operations in both plantations and natural regrowing forests,” said Mr Hampton.

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Forest resource managers meet in NZ and Australia

ForestTECH is the annual technology series run by FIEA for Australasia’s senior resource managers and inventory foresters. It’s the one event each year that continues to draw in all key resource and inventory foresters from both countries. Researchers, technology providers and forest owners also took up the opportunity to build in client meetings, workshops and discussion groups around both the New Zealand and Australian events to capitalize on this “once a year” turnout.

ForestTECH 2015 attracted over 250 forestry resource managers to the series that finished in Melbourne last week. For those delegates attending, you should have by now received details on how to download presentations given at both the New Zealand and Australian legs of the recent series. For those picking up the opportunity over the last few weeks to meet with leading communications and resource assessment and planning staff from this region, check out the montage of images below that provide a quick snap shot of the recent FIEA series.

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NZ Wood Campaign - Love our Forests launched

A new NZ Wood advertising campaign is being launched on Tuesday 1 December. The aim of this campaign is to promote and profile the forest growing industry in a positive light and to educate the general public and politicians about the huge value the industry brings to New Zealand and New Zealanders.

The concept “Love our Forests” underpins all the reasons that forestry is great. We have used real people to tell the story and in the process, found some great talent lurking in the forestry industry! For this first phase of the campaign we have chosen three key areas:

1. The economic benefits of forests
2. The environmental benefits of forests, and
3. The recreational benefits of forests

These three themes have been created for both billboards and magazines/newspapers and are attached.

The billboards are being placed at Wellington airport – one external billboard and two internal digital billboards. For those with existing billboards NZ Wood can provide the billboard images for your use if you want to upgrade. For any new billboards (and we encourage you to consider this) NZ Wood will provide the image/skin and the company would provide frame.

The print campaign is running in Kia Ora magazine (Air New Zealand’s inflight magazine), NZ Logger and Sunday Star Times. This first phase of the campaign will run through until March/April 2016.

We are also undertaking research to assist in understanding current perspectives and perceptions about the forestry industry which will help shape the strategy of future advertising and public relations work. While the preliminary results have been prepared there is still further work to be undertaken so we can provide a comprehensive package to the industry on the longer-term NZ Wood strategy based on that data.

Source: Paul Nicholls, Chair FOA/FFA Promotions Committee

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Turning wood into car parts

The molecules of plant fibres are being transformed into a light-weight material five times stronger than steel that can be used to make everything from auto parts to electronic displays. No wonder the technology, called cellulose nanofibre, has piqued the interest of executives in Japan, where manufacturers in the world’s third-largest economy import almost all the metal and fuel they need. The new material is derived from common things like trees, rice straw and orange peel, which means supply is plentiful and more environmentally friendly than what’s used now.

While development is in the early stages, the government estimates domestic sales may be worth about US$8.3 billion in 15 years. The first commercial product is already out: a $2 pen that Mitsubishi Pencil Co. sells in North America. Cellulose nanofibres are also going to be an ingredient in adult diapers planned by Nippon Paper Industries Co., while Nissei Co. is considering using the stuff to slow the melting of soft-serve ice cream.

“Cellulose nanofibre itself could be an ace-in-the-hole for Japan’s industry,” said Hiroyuki Okaseri, a senior pulp and paper analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo. At a time when developed countries are looking for ways to curb carbon emissions, Japan sees commercial development of a plant-based building material as an attractive option to metals that require fossil fuels to mine, transport and process ore. The steel industry is the nation’s top polluter among manufacturers, accounting for more than 40 percent of industry emissions, government data show.

Leading the charge to a plant-based alternative are companies connected with the paper industry in Japan, where about 70 percent of the island nation is covered with forests. They’re looking for new markets and revenue as Japan’s shrinking population and the shift to more online content erode demand for books, newspapers and paper documents.

Seiko PMC Corp., a maker of chemicals for the paper industry, is offering potential customers cellulose nanofibre samples made at a pilot plant that began operating last year in Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo. Papermaker Oji Holdings Corp. has teamed up with Nikko Chemicals Co. to develop the material for use in cosmetics such as cream foundations, gels, shampoo and mascara.

Developing cellulose nanofibre has gotten the backing of the government under measures enacted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intended to revive Japan’s stagnant economy. The trade ministry has asked for 450 million yen for the year starting April 1 to develop the manufacturing process and study how the material can be used. In cooperation with the auto industry, the Ministry of the Environment sought 3.8 billion yen to assess the potential for improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions by using the lighter-weight material in vehicles.

While replacing steel won’t happen immediately, car bodies made of cellulose nanofibre are a possibility, according to Kentaro Doi, director of the environment ministry’s climate-policy division. The economy ministry estimates automotive uses could account for as much as 60 percent of the 1 trillion yen market within 15 years. That figure could rise many times when markets outside Japan are considered, Watanabe said.

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AU$100m into new Australian Bioenergy Fund

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC) has committed AUD 100 million to the newly created Australian Bioenergy Fund, to be managed by the Foresight Group.

The fund aims to attract private sector equity investors to join the CEFC and support projects that will produce energy from agricultural, council, forestry and mining waste streams. The goal is to raise over AUD 200 million in equity, including CEFC's contribution.

“We see this new fund as playing an important role in accelerating and widening the market uptake of bioenergy and energy from waste technologies that have a proven track record overseas but are not yet widely deployed in Australia’s energy mix,” said CEFC CEO Oliver Yates.

CEFC, which was established by the Australian government to support green energy projects, calculates that Australia sources just 0.9% of its power from bioenergy, while the country has the potential to double that output in five years. “Our own investment pipeline has identified about AUD 3 billion of bioenergy sector projects that could be developed,” Yates added.

The Australian Bioenergy Fund will invest in technologies such as waste-to-energy, anaerobic digestion, sustainably sourced biomass-to-energy projects, landfill gas capture, wood pelletisation and the production of biofuels.

Foresight, which is currently establishing a presence in the Australian market, already manages funds on behalf of the UK Green Investment Bank and the European Investment Bank.

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Australian forestry skills shortage looms

Forestry representatives say Australia risks not having enough well-trained foresters to take over the burgeoning industry, which is suffering from a bad public image. Canberra's Institute of Foresters of Australia said the sector had been grappling with the problem for the past five years and could face a looming skills shortage if more students did not study forestry at a post-graduate and Masters level .

"We haven't explained the industry and what the exciting opportunities are for the young people to work in forest management," the Institute's Rob De Fegely said. He said that during the 1990s, many specialist forestry and agriculture courses were integrated into general science undergraduate degrees, leading to a decline of adequately-trained foresters. .

"I think industry, for a while, thought they could possibly train them in-house as they took them on from a generalist degree," he said. "Personally I don't think that is working. I see too many mistakes being made. I see basic learning that we learnt as young foresters back in the 1980s and 1990s being lost. Young people working in forestry companies just haven't had the skills or the research or the study to explain why they're making mistakes." .

Mr De Fegely said the industry needed to work harder to attract students into further study after their undergraduate degrees. "The universities are aware of this and we've had a number of meetings with the Australian National University, the Melbourne University and Lismore's Southern Cross University," he said. "All are keen to play a role." .

The University of Melbourne's Dr Antanas Spokevicius said tertiary education could only sustain courses which attracted students, but forestry has suffered from a bad public image. "They don't automatically see that forestry is about sustainability," Dr Spokevicius said. "Forests aren't cleared, forests are harvested and regrown, whether that's a native or a plantation. It's a renewable resource. These sorts of messages aren't coming across to the students. They are drawn by images of moonscapes."

Mr De Fegely said many foresters from South Africa and New Zealand were working in Australia, but they did not satisfy the skills shortage and did not always have a good understanding of Australian conditions. "I think we're lacking in good natural forest foresters — those who specifically understand our eucalyptus forest, which are unique to Australia obviously," Mr De Fegely said. "Also understanding how plantations are managed in the dry Australian environment, which means you really need to understand fires and fire management, and I think we're potentially slipping in some of those areas." .

Source: ABC News

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Ewing takes forest safety helm

Getting people at all levels of the NZ forest industry to think differently about how to create safe outcomes when working in a dynamic environment is a key objective of the new Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC).

“Our overall aim is zero fatalities and zero harm. It’s an ambitious target, but we owe it to those who work in our forests and to improve the reputation of the industry,” says National Safety Director Fiona Ewing.

She says the council is successfully pulling together a work programme to address the findings of the Independent Forestry Safety Review. Among these are initiatives that were already underway before she took the helm of FISC two months ago, including Safetree™, which will be an important communication platform for the council; and IRIS, the incident database which was set up and operated for many years by the Forest Owners Association.

“There are lots of examples of existing good practice and FISC will evaluate and share these and other initiatives more broadly across the sector,” Ms Ewing says. “It is an exciting prospect. FISC is the first example of a body representing employers, government and workers to be given a mandate to lead health and safety across an entire industry.”

Most FISC initiatives will be developed by the operational advisory group (OAG) and fine-tuned by technical advisory groups (TAGs), made up of people from across the industry with relevant expertise. The TAGs cover legislative reform, competency, performance management, leadership and communications. Ms Ewing encourages people with skills in these areas to put their names forward as candidates for TAG membership.

“Feedback on Safetree™ initiatives so far have been positive, from both contractors and crew members, through to forest owners, ACC and Worksafe NZ. These initiatives include stories and messages from workplace ‘heroes’ communicated on Safetree™, via YouTube and other social media; channels that are widely used in the crew environment,” says Ms Ewing.

“Of course others prefer more traditional forms of communication. The important thing is that we engage with everyone from workers to forest owners in ways that work for them.”

FISC is chaired by Dame Alison Paterson. The board is made up of representatives of forest owners, farm foresters, forest contractors, workers, unions, Worksafe NZ and ACC.

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Forestry freight hub for lower North Island

CentrePort chief executive Blair O'Keeffe says log volumes from the Wairarapa could rise by half over the next decade. CentrePort is creating a new hub in Masterton, a move which may stem the growth of logging trucks on the Rimutaka Hill Road.

On Wednesday the company said it had begun development of a 2.5 hectare site on Norfolk Road, with Forest Enterprises and Farman Turkington signed on as anchor users. Logs from around the region will be trucked to the hub, with additional rail freight capacity added to transport the logs to Wellington.

Added rail volumes would mean less pressure placed on the winding Rimutaka Hill Road by logging trucks. CentrePort chief executive Blair O'Keeffe said the new site would not eliminate logging trucks from the winding Rimutaka Hill Road which connects Wellington to the Wairarapa, but it would reduce added demand created by an expected growth in volumes.

"There will always be a mixture of road and rail. What this will do is support a lot of the new growth going into rail," O'Keeffe said. "The harvest profile for the Wairarapa region indicates growth of 50 per cent or more over the next 10 years."

Already CentrePort has seen a doubling of log volumes passing through the port over five years. "The hub will enable us to connect the world to the Wairarapa region, through a reliable and cost effective transport connection based upon rail," O'Keeffe said.

The users of the hub said the site would help them to be able to sustainably harvest growing log volumes. "The port's commitment to the forestry industry in the lower North Island gives us the confidence to expand our operations and increase our exports," said John Turkington of Farman Turkington Forestry.

The Masterton site is expected to begin operations in March 2016. Headquartered in Wellington, CentrePort is jointly owned by the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Horizons Regional Council.

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NZ to learn from European ag-innovators

Like New Zealand, innovation is seen as a major driving force in the future growth of Europe’s agricultural sector.

Agritechnica, one of the largest agricultural machinery shows in the world, has just finished in Germany and attracted over 450,000 visitors and 2,907 exhibitors. Agriculture 4.0 was front- and-centre of this event, with precision farming, sensor-based data collection, remote and automated systems and internet-based technologies being showcased at the 2015 event.

Growth in the Agri-tech industry also made an impact at Europe’s Web Summit, labelled ‘the best technology conference on the planet’. Connecterra, a Netherlands-based agri startup, won the ALPHA category for their innovative ‘Fitbit for cows’ technology. Company founder, Yasir Khokhar, believes the industry can solve some of the big real-world problems through technology.

In another event, the CECE-CEMA Summit, agricultural leaders met in Brussels to discuss how driverless tractors and intelligent machines were completely changing the way land owners are producing, driving and using equipment on the farm. The digital transformation of the industry in Europe is seen as a massive opportunity and it is helping to attract major investment into the sector.

Dr Adam Ulrich, Secretary General of the European Agricultural Machinery (CEMA), said that “digital technologies are set to transform the world of agriculture in the years ahead and will fundamentally reshape the agri-food value chain in Europe and beyond." However, smart regulatory frameworks are needed to unlock the full potential of the industry. This is especially important in building stronger broadband infrastructure into rural Europe.

Yasir Khokhar and Dr Adam Ultrich will both be presenting at New Zealand’s MobileTECH 2016 conference. This event is being held in Rotorua on the 30-31 March 2016 and will bring together the rural industry leaders, technology developers, innovators and early adopters from the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors.

The MobileTECH 2016 programme is available and further information can be found on the event website

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Foresters Foundation Award to recognise Jon Dey

The Board of the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) Foundation has agreed with the family of the late Jon Dey to establish the Jon Dey Award. The Foundation is now seeking donations from Jon’s colleagues and friends in order to supplement funds from the Dey family, Rotary Club of Wellington and others.

Purpose of Award: To assist research projects in the areas of work study or new technology aimed at improving forest engineering and harvest productivity. Projects need to be regarded as likely to be of practical application in New Zealand forestry. The research project must be undertaken at a recognised scientific institute or tertiary education institute in New Zealand under qualified supervision, and with demonstrated support from those working in the field of forest engineering and harvesting.

Size and term of award: To be determined by the Foundation Board in association with members of the Dey family once the available funding is established. It is anticipated there could be one or more annual awards, made available over a few years.

Making donations: If you wish to make a donation to the Foundation, payments are be made by:
- Cheque - to NZIF Foundation, P O Box 10513, Wellington, or
- Internet Banking - BNZ 02 1269 0014573 00, please remember to include your name in the details field.

If a receipt is needed for a donation deposited to the bank account, please email the Foundation ( advising the donation has been made, details of the donation (so it can be tracked in the bank records) and where the receipt should be sent.

Remember, donations qualify for tax rebates, so give more and claim some back from IRD.
Enquiries: Please email or phone (04) 974 8421.

Andrew McEwen, Chairperson, NZIF Foundation

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Wood Council of New Zealand - new leadership

Brian Stanley has been elected Chair of the Wood Council of New Zealand. The Wood Council celebrates its 10th anniversary this year as New Zealand's peak body for the forest and wood products sector. "Woodco" encompasses forest growers, forestry contractors, wood processors and manufacturers - collaboration along the whole wood value chain.

Mr Stanley, also currently Chair of the NZ Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association, takes over the leadership of Woodco as Bill McCallum, former President of NZ Forest Owners Association, completes his two year term. On stepping down Mr McCallum remarked on the good progress that had been made in the last two years by the pan-industry body to advance sustainability certification, enhance international trade, provide advice on climate change negotiations and promote excellence in wood-based design and structure.

"Back in 2005, Woodco was created to enable coordination, cooperation and the sharing of new ideas. Whilst individual member organisations have their own busy work programmes the fact that we all see the benefit in taking time to collaborate through Woodco says that what the entity was originally set up for still has great relevance today".

Upon accepting the Chair, Brian Stanley, picked up this theme and said that his term will be marked by strengthening the collaboration not just for the benefit of the sector itself but for the much wider good of NZ Inc. "As an innovative and productive industry that is already a major contributor to the national and regional economies, creating jobs and providing massive environmental benefits; the wood industry epitomises what NZ's low-carbon, value-add economy should look like. My objective is to see our sector recognised as leading the way into a future dominated by the impacts of climate change and the influences of new market demands."

Mr Stanley agreed with fellow Wood Councillors that, in a world where our competitors are heavily protected, we need to work with government to scale great walls of non-tarrif trade barriers, make sure that the NZ Standards' System is fit-for-purpose and that work in 2016 on an overhaul of the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme (and particularly the proposed Harvested Wood Products Regulation) needed to enable growth and beneficial equality along the entire wood industry value chain.

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Celebrations mark new company name for iconic business

Carter Holt Harvey Pulp, Paper and Packaging’s change of name to Oji Fibre Solutions was officially marked at a celebratory event hosted by the Consul General of Japan in Auckland. The new name follows the sale of the business last year to a joint venture between Oji Holdings and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ).

Speaking at the event Minister for Economic Development, the Hon Steven Joyce, underlined the importance of high quality investment for business confidence and economic growth. He noted Oji Holdings’ long-term commitment to New Zealand and the opportunities the new shareholder presents for introducing new technologies and innovation, creating more skilled jobs and increasing regional activity.

Oji’s investment in New Zealand dates back to 1971 with Pan Pac Forest Products. Soon after acquiring the Carter Holt Harvey pulp, paper and packaging business, the new shareholders announced a NZ$30 million upgrade to the Penrose Paper Bag manufacturing facility.

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Red Stag takes out trolley grand prix

Rotorua's Red Stag Timber has won a $10,000 prize for taking out the Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix in Auckland on Sunday 22 November. The 50 teams of the Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix showed off their handy work not only to the celebrity judges, but also to the 20,000 strong crowd that lined the race track and spilled over onto the grass front of the Auckland Museum.

When the scores were tallied and the race times were in, it was a unanimous decision that Rotorua's Red Stag Hunters were at the top of the podium with an incredibly fast time, a great skit and outstanding showmanship on the race track.

Not only was the team impeccably dressed in matching hunting outfits, their trolley was expertly crafted complete with a co-pilot who manned the hand crank, moving the exterior body of the trolley and bringing a giant red stag to life.

"What an awesome team, we've made something I'm really proud of and we're glad it's all turned out and we won on the day," a Red Stag Hunters team spokesman said. "The competition was fierce, we didn't think we had a shot at it, but we did it and it was absolutely amazing."

The Red Bull Trolley Grand Prix is a celebration of ingenuity and creativity. It's all about building crazy machines with friends and family, and is fast becoming a New Zealand institution.

Source: NZ Herald

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Unique possum research makes exciting find

The critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum has been found living in man-made hollows created as part of a study aiming to provide additional habitat for the species. Remote sensor cameras have spotted Possums building nests in specifically designed hollows which have been carved into trees in forests around Warburton, Powelltown and Noojee.

VicForests’ General Manager, Planning, Nathan Trushell, said the unique study is a collaborative project between VicForests and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP) Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI).

“We believe this is the first time this type of a study has been done in Australia for a species like the Leadbeater’s Possum,” Mr Trushell said. “It’s incredibly exciting to have Leadbeater’s Possums living in some of the artificially created hollows after only a few months, as well as finding evidence of nesting material inside other trees.

“The Possum builds a very distinctive nest using strips of bark, and remote sensor cameras have captured numerous images of possums carrying bark in their tails as they head up to the hollows to build a home. “Seventy-two hollows have been created across 18 sites and our first round of monitoring found 11 of these hollows either occupied by Leadbeater’s Possums or containing evidence of nests at different stages of development.

“Targeted locations were chosen for the creation of these hollows based on recent Leadbeater’s Possum detections, and the trees themselves are younger than those characteristically used by the Possum. “This is the first step in looking at new ways to create nesting sites for the species and, while the findings don’t solve the challenges facing the Possum and its preferred habitat, the initial results are fantastic.

“Our monitoring program has only just begun and it’s crucial that we continue to monitor the sites to see if more hollows are used and to understand the long-term viability of the nest sites,” he said.

The Victorian Government released the latest Supporting the Recovery of the Leadbeater’s Possum: Progress Report in late October which provides updates on a number of projects designed to assist the recovery of the species. “The new Report highlights some of the key achievements as part of work to protect the species and its habitat, including the detection of an additional 116 new colonies since December last year,” Mr Trushell said.

“The Leadbeater’s Possum is a shy and charismatic species which only comes out at night and it typically nests in trees older than 150 years which develop hollows naturally as the tree decays. “Large-scale wildfires over the last 75 – 100 years have reduced the number of suitable, older nest trees available for the possum.

“Our current work is looking at whether active forest management can complement naturally occurring habitat to help support the possum’s future survival,” he said.

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Buy and Sell

...and one to end the week on ... an outdoors man

During my annual physical examination, my doctor asked me about my physical activity level.

I described a typical day, "Well, yesterday afternoon, I took a five hour walk about 7 miles through some pretty rough terrain. I waded along the edge of a lake. I pushed my way through brambles. I got sand in my shoes and my eyes. I avoided standing on a snake. I climbed several rocky hills. I took a few 'leaks' behind some big trees.

The mental stress of it all left me shattered. At the end of it all I drank eight beers."

Inspired by the story, the doctor said, "You must be one hell of an outdoors man!"

"No," I replied, "I'm just a rubbish golfer."

And one more for you. Don't mess with seniors. An older lady decided to give herself a big treat for her 70th birthday by staying overnight in a really nice hotel.

When she checked out the next morning, the desk clerk handed her a bill for $500.00.

She demanded to know why the charge was so high.

"I agree it's a nice hotel, but the rooms aren't worth $500.00 for just an overnight stay!

I didn't even have breakfast."

The clerk told her that $500.00 is the 'standard rate', and breakfast had been included had she wanted it.

She insisted on speaking to the Manager.

The Manager appeared and, forewarned by the desk clerk, announced:

"This hotel has an Olympic-sized pool and a huge conference centre which are available for use."

"But I didn't use them," she said.

'Well, they are here, and you could have," explained the Manager.

He went on to explain that she could also have seen one of the in-hotel shows for which they were so famous.

"We have the best entertainers from the world over performing here," the Manager said.

"But I didn't go to any of those shows," she said.

"Well, we have them, and you could have," the Manager replied.

No matter what amenity the Manager mentioned, she replied, "But I didn't use it!" and the Manager countered with his standard response.

After several minutes discussion, and with the Manager still unmoved, she decided to pay, wrote a cheque and gave it to him.

The Manager was surprised when he looked at the cheque. "But madam, this cheque is for $100.00."

"That's correct I charged you $400.00 for sleeping with me," she replied.

"But I didn't!" exclaimed the very surprised Manager.

"Well, too bad, I was here, and you could have."

And the moral of this story, don't mess with Senior Citizens.

And on that note, it really must be time to start that Christmas shopping. Go on - get into it. You know you love it. Enjoy the weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
PO Box 904
Level Two, 2 Dowling Street
Dunedin, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 470 1902
Fax: +64 3 470 1904
Web page:

This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at

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