Friday Offcuts – 6 August 2021

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One of the most contentious issues facing the NZ forestry industry in recent times has been “carbon farming”, planting rural land to capitalise on increasing earnings being offered through carbon sequestration and carbon credits. Much of the debate, particularly from established farmers and rural communities has been on planting large swathes of pine trees across the landscape, around depopulation of the countryside and the potential impact on smaller rural communities. A report released this week from Beef + Lamb New Zealand estimates that about 26,550 hectares of the 77,800 hectares of whole farms sold into forestry since 2017 were to “carbon-only entities”. Links to the just published reports are contained in this week’s lead story.

For some, the economics of carbon farming are still being questioned. Does it really stack up financially? To help answer that question, a past Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University has crunched some numbers. In his analysis (along with the details that underly the assumptions behind the calculations) he looks at carbon farming on North Island hard-hill country where sheep and beef currently predominate. In summary, for carbon forestry, his analyses show that the expected return is 9.7% per annum over 50 years. This compares to around 2% for sheep and beef farming on the same land. For those interested (and it’s pretty useful for those entering the debate), a link to the full article and analysis is contained in the story below.

As we’ve covered in previous stories, engineered wood for commercial building is set for massive growth as embodied carbon is now being recognised as a key to mitigating climate change for new projects. In New Zealand, the Government has just released a Procurement Guide to Reducing Carbon Emissions in Building and Construction that provides clear guidance for government agencies involved in the procurement for new building and construction projects.

This shift in thinking adds to the MBIE “Building for Climate Change” policy work which will move even further from guidelines to government policy soon. There’s now a clear recognition that reducing carbon footprints with building materials like wood brings significant advantages for balancing carbon when projects take embodied carbon into consideration. These topics and others showing accelerating activity in engineered wood for commercial and multi-residential buildings are part of the WoodWorks (6th Annual) event running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 21-22 September. Click here for more details.

And since we’re right in the midst of tree planting, we thought we’d bring you a story on a tree planting world record that’s just been set. Not in this part of the world, but in Canada. Twenty-four hours and 23,060 trees in the ground for one Canadian tree planter. Whilst setting the record, he had someone working alongside who also planted a very respectable 18,500 trees. Together, 41,560 trees were planted in the 24 hours, what an average crew of 15 apparently in Alberta would plant in a day's work. Check out the video with the story. Think about that for a minute - one tree in the ground every 3.75 seconds for 24 hours straight! And that’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.

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Carbon price driving land sales for forestry

New independent research has confirmed a significant amount of sheep and beef farmland in New Zealand has been converted to forestry, underlining the need for limits on carbon offsetting, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The organisation said the research also busted the "myth" about trees going on unproductive land and reinforced its view that the integration of forestry on farms was a better way of managing landscapes and meeting climate change targets.

The study by BakerAg, commissioned by B+LNZ, reveals there has been a significant increase in the amount of farmland sold into forestry, driven in large part by an increase in the carbon price.

The report was unable to identify exactly how much of the sheep and beef farmland sold into forestry was intended for pure carbon farming, but based on examination of the land titles, it was estimated that about 26,550 hectares of the 77,800 hectares of whole farms sold into forestry since 2017 were to carbon-only entities (about 34 per cent of the whole farm sales).

The report found those 29,500 hectares were from a combination of the plantable area of whole farm sales into forestry and funding to plant exotic trees within farms under two Government schemes. With the Climate Change Commission suggesting the carbon price would rapidly increase, the sector was calling on the Government to work with it, and the forestry sector, on how forestry offsetting can be managed, McIvor said.

He said the Climate Change Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment had also both recently suggested the need for policy changes to limit forestry offsetting. "Without urgent action, the sale of sheep and beef farms into forestry will only accelerate as the carbon price increases, and fossil fuel emitters will continue to receive a 'get out of jail' free card and not change their behaviour.

"This is a critical issue for our sector – as evidenced by its inclusion as one of the seven key concerns in the recent Groundswell-organised farmer protests." The research also analysed the land types of the farms sold into forestry. It found that over 90 per cent of the land within whole farms sold into forestry was of Land Use Capability (LUC) classes 6 and above.

More >>

Read a summary of the report here.

Read the full report here.

In response to the report, Forest Owners says 'afforestation report raises more questions than it answers'. Read more.

Source: NZ Herald, FOA

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Analysing carbon farming opportunities

In recent months I (*) have been analysing New Zealand sheep and beef farming to try and understand the changing scene. Here, I shift the focus to carbon farming on the North Island hard-hill country where sheep and beef currently predominate.

In this article I am not looking at lumber because much of the hard-hill country has lumber problems arising from logging costs and associated infrastructure. Rather, I am focusing on permanent pine forests and asking whether the economics now stack up.

In telling this story I am going to be challenged by some people who hate pine trees and also by others who love them but have a focus on lumber. Here, I am not taking sides on either of those issues. My approach is simply to report what the carbon numbers are saying.

More >>.

* Keith Woodford was Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University for 15 years through to 2015. He is now Principal Consultant at AgriFood Systems Ltd. His previous articles on high-country issues are archived. You can contact him directly at


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Pentarch Group Buys Dormit

The Pentarch Group is pleased to announce it has purchased the assets of Dormit Pty Ltd. Dormit operates two sawmills and associated operations located at Dandenong South and Swifts Creek in Victoria, Australia. It processes hardwood logs primarily for pallet production with final processing occurring in Dandenong.

Dormit is Australia’s largest manufacturer of wooden pallets, up to 1.2 million units per annum, supplying the majority of CHEP Australia’s pallet requirements. Pentarch will continue the supply of wooden pellets to CHEP, cementing Dormit’s 30+ year relationship with the company.

This acquisition solidifies Pentarch’s strategic commitment to invest and expand its forestry holdings. It adds to the recently announced agreement to buy Boral Limited’s hardwood and softwood business in New South Wales and compliments the greenfields sawmilling operation Pentarch is developing in Eden, NSW. A briquette plant is also under development in Eden alongside Pentarch’s existing chipping and log export operations.

Paul Heubner, CEO Pentarch Forestry said “The strategic acquisition of both Dormit and Boral Timber alongside our other developments, places the Pentarch Group in an enviable position for future growth and diversification. Late last year we also purchased the assets of a wood testing laboratory, Wood Industry Technical Services Ltd (WITS - now Pentarch Technical Services) based in Kawerau, New Zealand”.

“We are looking to invest in and provide end-to-end forestry services and we are actively seeking new opportunities across both countries”. Pentarch’s purchase of Dormit took effect from 26 July 2021.

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SA Forestry research gets AU$2m boost

Forestry research in South Australia will get an AU$2 million boost with funding being committed over four years to the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NFPI), Mount Gambier Centre.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, David Basham said this extension of support for the Institute delivers on a recommendation by the Forestry Industry Advisory Council of South Australia.

“This funding builds on a long history of government support for forestry research in South Australia that dates back to 1882 with the state widely recognised as the birthplace of the Australian plantation forestry,” Minister Basham said.

“Forestry is a vitally important regional industry, contributing more than $1.6 billion to the state’s economy, directly employing approximately 5,500 people and indirectly supporting the employment of another 12,500. The Green Triangle region is also home to 18 per cent of Australia’s total plantation estate”.

“Not only are the research projects occurring in Mount Gambier benefitting existing local forestry operations but are also continuing that proud legacy of cutting-edge forest management and wood production nationally.

Research areas currently being looked at by NFPI Mount Gambier include worker safety, carbon emission targets, forest management, advanced remote sensing, forest water use, biosecurity, fire detection and genetics.

“Retaining the forestry research capability that has been developed in the Green Triangle region through NIFPI will help to drive the emergence of new and innovative products. This support continues the Government’s partnership in forest research with the University of South Australia through its Forest Research Mount Gambier program.”

The Australian and South Australian governments established the NFPI Mount Gambier Centre to investigate forestry innovation and strengthen the ties between research and industry’s strategic needs. For further information on the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation visit

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Another major switch to wood biomass

As Minister for Energy and Resources Hon Dr Megan Woods officially opened Fonterra’s wood pellet boiler at its Te Awamutu plant, the Co-operative announced details for its next site to exit coal - Stirling cheese plant in Otago.

Otago’s ‘fantastic little cheese plant’, will be coal free and using wood biomass to fire the site by August next year. This will make Stirling Fonterra’s first 100% renewable thermal energy site, a significant step towards the Co-op’s goal of getting out of coal all together by 2037. By switching to wood biomass, the site’s annual emissions will reduce by 18,500 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of taking more than 7,000 cars off the road.

Fonterra General Manager Operations Lower South Island, Richard Gray says it’s another huge decarbonisation milestone for the Co-op. “Sustainability is at the heart of our strategy, and this project is something that will be good for the environment and local community.”

“As well as the site being coal free there are additional environmental benefits the new boiler will bring, including reduction in wastewater, noise, solid waste to landfill and air discharge emissions. There are also economic benefits for the community – the installation will contribute more than $10 million into the region, along with supporting an estimated 10 jobs in the wood biomass industry.”

The wood biomass will be sourced Pioneer Energy who are locally owned by Central Lakes Trust. The Trust distributes grants to charitable causes in the Central Otago region. Pioneer Energy CEO, Fraser Jonker says "Pioneer Energy is very proud to be involved with, and to support, Fonterra’s move across from coal to biomass at their facility in Stirling.

“Pioneer Energy has a proven record for the installation of new, and conversion of existing, boilers to biomass, and with our own wood fuel division assuring quality and security of local supply for the fuel, have mitigated any perceived risk of making this very important transition to a low carbon future."

Stirling is the third significant fuel switching project the Co-op has undertaken in as many years. The conversion of Fonterra’s Te Awamutu site to wood pellets has resulted in a 10% reduction in the Co-op’s coal use, and at Brightwater at the top of the South Island, the team is co-firing wood biomass.

These three projects, when combined with other energy efficiency work, will reduce the Co-op’s emissions by 135,000 tonnes, the equivalent of taking close to 52,000 cars off the road. With this latest announcement, eight out of Fonterra’s 29 sites remain to be removed from using coal.

Source: Stuff

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Canadian tree planter smashes world record

In the pre-dawn hours of 18th July, Antoine Moses, a 22-year-old Canadian tree planter, set new world record for planting 23,060 trees in 24 hours straight - a tree on average every 3.75 seconds.

Two Canadian tree planters, Antoine Moses from Blue Collar Silviculture and Kilty Elliott from Summit Reforestation, each supported in a collaborative effort by six-person pit crews, planted trees in a cut-block managed by Tolko Industries 100 km south of High Level, Alberta, in an attempt to set a new world record for planting trees in 24 hours by a single person.

The weather conditions were perfect, long daylight hours with approximately 19 hours of light, overcast skies, a high of 16 C and a low of 5 C and a light rain for close to half the day. For the five hours of darkness the pit crews provided light with high intensity lamps. The planting was documented using the guidelines laid out by Guinness World Records.

After 14 hours and 51 minutes of straight planting, Moses had surpassed the old record of 15,170 trees held by Kenny Chaplin, set in 2001. "I smiled all the way through and said thank you 500 times, what we do together is so incredibly fulfilling," said Antione.

Antoine Moses July 17, 2021 from Tim Tchida on Vimeo.

Chaplin started his planting career at 18 and at 51 is still planting today, "We're all telling our own amazing stories. Congratulations Antoine and Kilty, it's about time", said Kenny Chaplin. Through the same 24-hour period, the 23-year-old Kilty Elliott planted a staggering 18,500 trees.

Moses and Elliott together planted 41,560 trees in the 24 hours. This is what an average crew of 15 would plant in a day's work. Collectively Summit and Blue Collar plant 75 million trees over a 60 day season. This is an average of 1.25 million trees a day. Each of these trees planted one at a time by a Canadian superhuman workforce.

"It is truly amazing what Canadian youth can accomplish, and we are grateful and supportive of the planters in the silviculture industry. They accomplish astonishing feats of human endurance working in some of the toughest conditions, Norm Livingstone, Forestry Superintendent of Tolko Industries, High Level Alberta.

"It is wonderful that these Olympic-like extreme athletes are using their physical and mental strengths to give back by planting trees," say Tim Tchida, Owner and CEO of Summit Reforestation. "It's a profound alignment of personal endurance and collective fulfilment, it is an initiation into your own potential".

Source: Summit Reforestation

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China’s first wooden public transit station

The Olympic Sports Central Axis Ecological Park, located on the Olympic Sports Avenue in Baqiao District, Xi’an, is an important supporting project for China’s 14th National Games. As a key component of the park project, the Skytrain station is divided into east and west sides symmetrically arranged on top of the flyover with Metro Line 3 as the central axis.

In order not to interfere with the operation of Metro Line 3 and to deliver the project within tight deadlines, the designer was convinced by Canada Wood China to use the wood-frame construction. The structure consists of 244 main beams and 6556 secondary beams, of which the wood keel is lapped with sustainably harvested Douglas fir milled in Canada that was used for glulam components.

The Project Team completed the original 60-day construction task with 25 days, with work continuing through the night. This won precious time for the subsequent construction and laid a solid foundation for the realization of the “June 30” as a completion date for the whole project. With the unique designs, and as the station to service the Olympic Sports Central Axis Ecological Park, the Skytrain station will become an iconic location for the city.

Source: Canada Wood

WoodWorks 2021 Update:

In last week’s issue we outlined plans for a tour around Red Stag’s CLT factory as part of WoodWorks 2021 being run for wood manufacturers, architects, project managers and engineers in Rotorua on 21-22 September. The tours will run hourly starting at 1:00pm through 4:00pm on Tuesday 21 September for conference delegates.

In addition to the site tours, BRANZ are also running a free 3-hour workshop on fire controls, energy efficiencies, timber durability and environmental benefits around timber construction. This pre-conference workshop starts at 10am on Tuesday 21 September 2021. Further details can be found by clicking here.

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Competenz first TITO to transition industry training

Te Pūkenga has welcomed the first Transitional Industry Training Organisation (TITO) Competenz to transition with a powhiri in Hamilton. Competenz’s arranging training functions have transferred to Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Limited (WBL), a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga. Competenz is now a separately branded business division within WBL, led by Director Amanda Wheeler.

Acting Chief Executive of WBL Fiona Kingsford welcomed Competenz and acknowledged the importance of the day. “We’re really grateful to Competenz for their enthusiasm to work together on this once-in-a-generation opportunity. Their skills, knowledge and expertise will be incredibly valuable as we build a vocational and applied learning system that is simple to navigate, responds to the needs of learners and employers and is flexible enough to change as the future develops”.

“I also acknowledge all of our Competenz people making this transition. This move would not be possible without them and the mahi they do every day to ensure apprentices and trainees, and the employers who support them, continue to have access to resources, support and training,” she says.

Competenz Director Amanda Wheeler says the 225 staff are excited for what comes next, while remaining steadfast in their commitment to provide high levels of support to the 38 industries they serve. “This is an exciting evolution for Competenz, and we are proud to be the first TITO to join Te Pūkenga on this journey to reshape and grow vocational education in Aotearoa. We know this coming together of work-based, online and classroom learning will deliver the best possible outcomes for our employers and learners, who will always be at the heart of everything we do.”

Once fully established, Te Pūkenga will be New Zealand’s largest tertiary provider and the 35th largest globally. In April 2021, Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Limited was established in preparation for the arranging training functions of TITOs to transfer to Te Pūkenga. From 1 January 2023 all learners will be enrolled at Te Pūkenga and 60 percent of learners will be work-based.

Photo: Acting Chief Executive of Te Pūkenga Work Based Learning Limited Fiona Kingsford

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Gippsland forestry research gets nearly AU$4 m

Victoria’s forestry industry is set to benefit from nearly AU$4 million of new industry transferable research under the first round of projects funded by the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) centre in Gippsland.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam and Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas congratulated the funding recipients and welcomed the benefits these projects would bring to Gippsland and the wider industry across Australia.

“The research will investigate the impacts of fire on performance of timber projects, as well as the smarter use of spatial information for forest management, improving commercialisation of manufactured timber products, feral animal management and improvements to plantation productivity.”

“Six projects with a total value of AU$3.96 million have been successful under the first round of the Gippsland NIFPI Research and Development Project grants. The NIFPI centre in Gippsland will deliver jobs and growth through supporting the smarter use of our forest resources and assisting industry to extract greater value from our forest products” Minister Thomas said.

The Australian and Victorian governments are contributing AU$1.89 million to these successful projects – which is being matched by approximately AU$2 million of funding and in-kind contributions from the forestry industry and research agencies.

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Limits to NZ timber exports?

House building crisis: NZ Government could limit timber exports to ensure local supply

The Government was warned its efforts to tackle New Zealand's housing affordability issues could be hampered by wood shortages. The issue has become so significant, Building and Construction Minister Poto Williams is considering limiting timber exports to ensure there is enough in the country.

It's also caught the attention of Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who this week intends to call for a select committee inquiry into building products, with a specific focus on timber. This comes as the cost of building materials continues to rise, pushing up house prices.

Newstalk ZB can reveal the alarm was raised in April, in an urgent briefing from Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials. Documents, obtained under the Official Information Act (OIA), show officials' concerns after timber giant Carter Holt Harvey cut distribution to ITM, Bunnings and Mitre 10.

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And feedback on comments made by the Minister earlier in the week and potential impact on business confidence and investment can be read here.

Source: NZHerald and NewstalkZB

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NSW forest agreement faces another challenge

In a legal first, Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is heading to the Federal Court to challenge a New South Wales Regional Forest Agreement (RFA). The North East RFA covers logging in the coastal area between Sydney and the Queensland border. It exempts logging in native forests from federal biodiversity law.

Originally signed between the Commonwealth and New South Wales in 2000, it was renewed in 2018 for another 20 years with rolling extensions that could continue indefinitely. In the summer of 2019-20, devastating bushfires ripped through native forests in the RFA region, including areas of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.

On behalf of client the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA), EDO will argue that when the North East RFA was renewed, the Commonwealth did not have regard to endangered species, the state of old growth forests or the impacts of climate change, as the EDO will argue it was required to do.

NEFA is asking the Federal Court to declare that the North East RFA does not validly exempt native forest logging from federal biodiversity assessment and approval requirements (EPBC Act). EDO Chief Executive Officer David Morris said: “We are challenging the Federal Government over its failure to assess how another 20-plus years’ of logging, against a background of a changing climate, will impact our forest ecosystems, endangered species and old growth forests

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For further coverage on this story click here.Source: ABC, EDO

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$20,000 Forestry scholarship opportunity

China Forestry Group (NZ) Limited are pleased to be able to offer a scholarship to support prospective graduates into the forestry industry. This is the fourth year this scholarship has been offered. The scholarship aims to develop the language and business skills of New Zealanders with particular emphasis on developing trade and business opportunities with China. The scholarship is aimed at 3rd or 4th year students studying in forestry or business-related fields.

The scholarship has a value of $20,000 NZD which is used to support the students final year of study, further study in a language course and travel to visit CFGCs operations in New Zealand and China.

CFGC Forest Managers (NZ) Limited is a New Zealand based forestry and trading company headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand. CFG own several forests across the North Island, totalling approximately 30,000 stocked hectares. Current CFG have employees located in Northland, Auckland, Mount Manganui, Whanganui, Wellington, and Christchurch.

Their forests supply domestic mills and their own export operations. They also have a significant at wharf gate (AWG) program that complements their own estates volume. Their operations support hundreds of contracted professional harvest, haulage, and port staff across the country. The New Zealand business is a subsidiary of CFPC Singapore, which also over sees global forest products trading relationships in South America, North America, Europe, and Africa.

Please feel free to circulate this opportunity to people who would be eligible and interested. For further information or to apply please get in touch with Lauchie Weston via email, Applications to be received by the 20th of August at this stage.

Source: China Forestry Group

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NZ cleantech start-ups to take on the world

New Zealand’s clean tech innovators are struggling to compete with their foreign counterparts because they are not able to attract the same level of investment, report from Callaghan Innovation says. As a result, many do not survive long enough to attract crucial late-stage funding to take their products to market.

The Callaghan Innovation report, New Zealand Climate Tech for the World, says research shows companies working at solving pressing environmental problems are under-financed compared to other small advanced economies. This translated to six times less investment than Finland, 55 times less than Sweden, 22 times less than Israel, 18 times less than Denmark and 12 times less than Ireland.

Kiwi clean tech businesses were also not surviving long enough to access the late-stage financing necessary to grow, or were not perceived by investors to have sufficient potential to grow. A cross-government partnership has been formed to turn that around and make New Zealand into a centre of global clean tech excellence.

A key recommendation of the report was to increase collaboration among government organisations to increase investment in clean tech. Another working with multinational corporations to help grow businesses. New Zealand’s lack of multinationals contributed to fewer funding opportunities.

Callaghan Innovation clean tech spokesman James Muir said new technologies would help the country reach its carbon targets and would help to build a high value export sector, while also creating jobs. To do this, more investment was needed to commercialise some of the technology coming through. The partnership would develop a five-year roadmap to attract investment, strengthen local and global networks, scoping new initiatives and develop clusters of clean tech businesses.

Turning innovative technologies into a commercial proposition was not easy, Muir said. “The report reveals that innovators are raising 95 per cent less investment than other comparable small advanced economies.”

This despite a recent review of the country’s clean tech businesses showing there were up to 300 businesses working on technologies, applications, alternatives to plastic, new energy sources and industrial waste processing.

Futurity Bioventures chief technology officer, Gaetano Dedual said the company was founded three years ago with seed capital from Callahan and Trust Tairāwhiti. “That has got us to the point now where we have a strong proposition,” Dedual said.

The startup was in the middle of a second capital raising to fund an 18-month large-scale market validation project, with the hope of de-risking the technology enough to attract finance for full commercialisation. The company takes low-value forestry offcuts and turns them into high-value replacements for petrochemicals that are used in everyday products, such as polyurethane.

“We recognised that there was a huge opportunity in New Zealand to add value to our forestry resource through the production of bio-based chemicals and materials from pine wood. “That really came from a realisation that the world is transitioning away from oil to lower impact sources of chemicals. The wood feedstock is a great way to unlock these chemicals and they don’t get a lot of recognition,” he said.

While Futurity had been well-supported to date, it lacked the funding to scale up the technology. Eventually, the plan was to build a NZ$150m biorefinery in Gisborne. Futurity was looking for investors who supported its goals. The idea was to keep as much of any future profit in New Zealand.

More >>

Source: Stuff

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Buy and Sell

... and one to end the week on ...

And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Editor, Friday Offcuts
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PO Box 904, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (03) 470 1902, Mob: +64 21 227 5177, Fax: +64 (03) 470 1906
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