Reflecting on 12 months in the Kauri Park World

Posted on December 4, 2019

2019 began with a large development for Kauri Park at the new Waipu premises. Having outgrown the Kaiwaka and Palmerston North sites Kauri Park began a new site on the northern side of the Brynderwyn range here in Northland, whilst our Kaiwaka nursery is on the southern side. The site is situated in a high wind zone and grows a very strong plant. The high wind zone is accentuated by a microclimate that has a flow path directly across growing areas. This has had challenges for the nursery manager and his team but thankfully we can learn about wind from our Palmerston North team.

The site offers plenty of scope for expansion into the future and we are blessed to have the same spring fed water courses that are abundant throughout the range. There are theories that very deep underneath this part of NZ there is a large aquafer. The theory is that it travels northwards towards the equator and bends to the west under the Kaipara Harbour and fresh water flows out from the ocean floor somewhere between here and Australia. The theory is that the bend in the aquafer pressurizes water to the surface and hence the huge number of springs coming from fissures in the rock strata of the Brynderwyn Ranges. It is good water too having very high levels of silica thanks to the aquafer running through the geothermal areas of the central North Island.

In the broad view from a plant producer 2019 had new employment laws put upon us. The most significant are around the minimum wage and 90-day laws. In a labour intensive primary industries sector this has added costs and more compliance issues. It is about getting our heads around it moving forward. It also means more automation will be implemented across our sector to save in labour costs and complexities.

The 1 Billion Trees program went through some further changes in definitions as to what types and mix of plantings are allocated against the different levels of funding. This has moved away from the original forestry pitch that was announced and lead to better access to the funds for environmental planting. The 1BT has been sometimes cumbersome in the early stages but is ironing out the issues as the program develops. This program has the ability to put NZ on the world stage for caring for our environment especially around waterways. If anything is lacking it is the planning for the right tree in the right place but hopefully planning will become a bigger part of the program.

In the Manuka sector there has been a reasonable impact to the honey producers as to the definitions of what is classified as Manuka honey and the monofloral testing that is required. This meant that for some honey in storage that was once destined for a Manuka honey sale became downgraded to Bush Honey. While this decision has rocked the boat here and there it should reset itself and the beekeepers will learn to manage their harvests according to what is required by the new definition. There is a good positivity in the Manuka industry.

Of interest is the “war” across the ditch between NZ and AUS about the word “Manuka”. Who owns this word? I have a good friend from Tasmania who lives off Manuka Drive in Burnie. I haven’t had this discussion with him but I’m sure he thinks the word is a locally derived. It will be down to lawyers on this one and it is key to global marketing so neither side will want to give ground. I think we will be discussing this topic in 2020 again.

The infrastructure and housing marketing for the plant producers has remained steady as the population grows and people need areas to live in and this will continue for a few decades yet. The first 6 months of 2019 was particularly dry for the north of NZ. This gave the civil contractors a huge advantage with an extended earth-working season. The rain arrived in July which is quite unusually late.

A significant part of the environmental plantings in NZ is the millions of native plants per annum the State Highway roading programs. This work is grinding to a stagnation which is a huge shame on the good momentum that we had here in NZ. Hopefully this is just a hiccup of some description and that this road building keeps progressing and we can keep our highly skilled workforce operating some of these projects. The environmental teams that work on these projects have amazing results from their designs and mostly improve the environment and leaving it in a better state than before the vehicle corridors were built. Please don’t take your skills and accumulated knowledge offshore.

One of our more exiting projects that we are involved in and has still got a few months to run is our floating wetland in Singapore. Some of our guys have been experiencing what it is like to work in the tropics. A few of the highlights were the huge monitor lizards who claimed the floating platform as real estate and kept a close watch on progress. The tropical thunderstorms which close the work site and the rain doesn’t cool the temperature at all. The cost of beer! The plants are growing well and we look forward to heading back up in the new year for the next two stages.

Somewhere along the journey through 2019 our resident South African employees arrived on a Monday morning and waved the flag and wondered why the rest of us weren’t very talkative. That’s all we have to say about that…moving on…

2019 has been a great year here at Kauri Park and we have celebrated many success stories with our clients and some of the really great people of this country. Our work takes us anywhere from inner city landscapes to some remote places in Aotearoa. Thanks for all for 2019 and see you again in 2020.

From the whole team here at Kauri Park … “Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season”.