Kauri export opponents get partial win in Supreme Court

The Northland Environmental Protection Society has won one ground of appeal to the Supreme Court on the export of kauri products, but has failed to get a declaration from the court on exports of swamp kauri.

The court issued its judgment today.

The declarations sought relating to the operation of the Forests Act included a declaration that light surface carvings or decoration don’t meet the definition of finished or manufactured indigenous product and a declaration that the Ministry for Primary Industries had acted unreasonably in approving exports of swamp kauri.

The majority held that, to be lawfully exported, an item must be a product in itself and in its final or kitset form.

The court majority concluded, on the Forests Act appeal: “We have differed in a number of major respects from the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of the definition of finished or manufactured indigenous timber product. This means that the appeal on this point must be allowed.”

The court held that the Protected Objects Act doesn’t cover swamp kauri as a category, and dismissed that appeal.

However, the court majority suggested that, given swamp kauri is a finite resource and the threat to living trees from kauri dieback disease, “a review of the legislative framework with regard to swamp kauri may be desirable”.

Justice Willie Young reached the same conclusions but provided separate reasoning, primarily around certification. Since 2004, no mandatory certification process applied to exports of finished or manufactured indigenous timber product.

Justice Susan Glazebrook wrote the majority decision. The other judges on the bench were Justices Mark O’Regan, Ellen France & Terry Arnold.

Supreme Court kauri export decision

Attribution: Judgment.

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