Nick Smith; Thick as a Short Plank?

Written By: - Date published: 9:56 am, July 3rd, 2015 - 25 comments
Categories: accountability, China, exports, same old national, sustainability - Tags: ,

National Party Minister Nick Smith appears to have misled Parliament in his response to what appears to be clear evidence of the illegal export of kauri logs. Kauri can only be exported as a finished product or as a stump. Smith, speaking on behalf of the beleaguered Minister of Primary Affairs Nathan Guy, claimed in the house that “The law that was passed defines stumps of kauri including up to four or five metres of the lower portion.”

That’s rubbish. The law (The Forests Act 1949, amended 2004) actually says an exportable swamp kauri stump is the root section of the tree, and a portion of trunk from the ground-line, no longer than the tree’s diameter.

The Act makes no mention of specific lengths, but the principle is the the length of the log may not be more than the width.

kauri

Smith was replying to questions from Northland MP’s Winston Peters and Kelvin Davis. Peters showed the house a photo of kauri logs about to be shipped out of NZ and off to China in apparent contravention of the law (above). The photo was lifted from the website of Oceanic Navigation, the shipping company who took the kauri out of the country and show logs approximately 4.5 to 6 metres long, but only 2 metres or so wide. The taonga was lost to the country in 2013.

It is not currently confirmed who arranged that specific export of  kauri logs, but there aren’t many large exporters in the North. One of them, of course, is Kauri Ruakaka Ltd, formerly Oravida Kauri, but we can only accept the word of company director David Wong-Tung who says his company has always complied with the laws of New Zealand, has never traded or exported illegally, and never would.

Any suggestion that there is a connection between Oravida, major donor to the National Party, and Nick Smith’s misleading of Parliament is obviously entirely spurious and completely without foundation. Nor is there is a proven link between Oravida and the logs. That’s something the local newspaper the Northern Advocate was quick to point out following a report linking Oravida with the export of Kauri. Their swift correction makes it clear that their offending article was “not intended to give the impression that Kauri Ruakaka Limited (Oravida), Judith Collins MP and her husband have engaged in any illegal or improper conduct in respect of the collection or export of swamp kauri.”. So that’s alright, then.

The truth is much simpler; Nick Smith isn’t really as thick as a short plank. He’s just often stumped and clearly not the finished product. But perhaps it would be a good idea for National if he was exported off the front benches anyway.

 

25 comments on “Nick Smith; Thick as a Short Plank?”

  1. There are a few things rotten in this country and it is sure as hell not the Kauri logs.

  2. Sabine 2

    He pretends to be thick n slow n dimwitted, but it pays him his bills, and generous benefits for the rest of his life. SO i think he will find it very very easy to not know what is a stump and what is a log. His well being depends on it.
    This can be applied to the National Government in full. The country is run by con artists, and for the largest part they are ok with it.

    So there, he has got nothing to worry about.

  3. plumington 3

    Maybe Nick is looking out for his mate Judith and her vested interests in kauri exports
    Corruption and grubby fingers were millions are made by breaking the law from the right honorables through govt deptartments
    Didn’t a poor napuhi leader resign over a smuggling protected species?

  4. Lanthanide 4

    Two things:

    1. It’s the diameter of the tree at the ground-line. There was some mention on RNZ this morning that the logs being shown here gain some of their length from below “ground-line”. Sounds like a plausible defense, but I’d be quite skeptical how they can conclusively prove what the “ground line” on one of these stumps would be, since they’ve been sitting in a swamp for centuries.

    2. A couple of weeks ago when RNZ-MR interviewed the US owner of a company that deals with these Kauri logs, he sounded very knowledgeable – unsure if he prepared for the interview or not. One interesting thing he repeated at least twice, and that Guyon didn’t pull him up on, is that he said the length of the stump could be the circumference of the tree, rather than the diameter. Did he simply misspeak, or have the trees hes imported used the (incorrect) circumference as their length reference, instead of the diameter? If this mistake has been made, how common is it?

    • Cheers, Lanth. Groundline and stump are defined in the Act thus:

      “groundline, in relation to any living or dead tree, means the point at the base of the tree where the tree, when standing, commenced or commences to be naturally in contact with the ground”

      “stump means the basal part of a living or dead tree (whether rooted or uprooted), being the roots and that part of the trunk that extends from the groundline to a point (up the trunk) equal to the maximum diameter of the trunk; and, for the purposes of this definition, any remnant of a tree shall be regarded as part of a complete tree”

      So diameter, not circumference. If the tree is one metre wide at the groundline, then the log length must also be a metre. If you look at the photo again, it’s clear the logs are not 1:1 so they don’t meet the definition in the Act. And as for how common? Far too common, I’d say.

      • maui 4.1.1

        In the photo above, the kauri “log” closest in shot does not flare out at either end – so in my eyes it’s a section of tree trunk, not a stump.

        Looking at Kauri Ruakaka’s stockpile (http://www.radionz.co.nz/assets/news/41426/eight_col_swamp_kauri_stockpile.jpg?1434539559) of kauri “stumps” it looks like most of them are kauri logs. You can see in the bottom-right hand corner of that picture of their yard an area that looks to be stumps – the shapes are darker and ill-defined. Some of these may be legal, others may still be too long. The other 80% of that yard looks to be straight kauri logs obviously having a linear shape. If all of those logs are kauri then they’re all illegal in my view.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    If the Gnats want to use stupidity as a defence we should lay it on thick – it will cost them votes.

  6. adam 6

    How many times can a man lie and keep his job?

    If your a working stiff – none.

    If your a minister in the Key government – the sky’s the limit.

  7. Grant 7

    Seriously?
    No connection? Yeah right!

  8. Nick Smith understands the legislation perfectly well. He just does not want to admit it.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      What’s more embarrassing, stating the law (which is what the question was about) and coming up with some excuse to blame the department for these particular logs.

      Or, deliberately lying about the law, in the hopes no one would notice, only to subsequently be found out and a much bigger deal be made?

      Clearly the latter route is the stupid one.

  9. Stuart Munro 9

    I wonder if the energetic Mr McCready could prosecute Nick for breaking the law with respect to Kauri exports.

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      First, he was standing in for Nathan Guy whose ministry it actually is.

      Secondly, Nick Smith himself will not have broken any laws (nor Nathan).

      • Stuart Munro 9.1.1

        Somehow I feel he might nevertheless have some complicity. I wonder if any of his known associates are breaking the law. If so, sentencing should be harsh, because ignorance is be no excuse, and in this case it can scarcely be pled in mitigation.

  10. John Shears 10

    Actually ‘Thick as Two Short Planks’ or in the Ministers case is it rather more like four?

  11. dukeofurl 11

    Imagine that. Oravida Kauri now known as Ruakaka Kauri has all these logs in its yards that now cant be exported ?

    What are they do do ?. Sue the government as they ‘understood’ the laws of geometry were to be changed so that what was the diameter is now the circumference.

    This way the kauri logs will be air freighted to China at the governments expense !

    • maui 11.1

      I hear Parliament is as we speak sitting under urgency… Something about some new legislation by Ms Collins 😉

      • dukeofurl 11.1.1

        Ms Collins , formerly known as Cinderella for her previous job as a Farmers shoe sales lady, knows all about fitting large feet into small glass slippers and knows the easiest way to make a tree trunk into a stump.

  12. Skinny 12

    I just read this post it gave me a good laugh, very witty their cobbah TRP.

    We are thinking of coming to the rescue of the fourth estate, threatening legal action means jack to people I know who stand on mana, and the media will be delighted to exact some utu on bully boy Tung by giving wide media coverage of action.

  13. Scintilla 13

    How about swamp kauri be offered to NZ artists first? We have wonderful carvers and sculptors who would be utterly delighted to get their amazing hands on swamp kauri. Isn’t it taonga? Isn’t it meant to be treated with respect? Where is the Arts Council’s voice on this? Artists aren’t allowed to take whale teeth/bones from beached whales for creative works, yet giant kauri logs can somehow be claimed, excavated and sold by companies with what rights exactly?

  14. This does sound like smith was “Buried under a peat swamp by an unexplained act of nature at the end of the last Ice Age…”

    I don’t like people who tell lots of lies – what’s with that? Anyway this was interesting…

    “A trademark of swamp kauri is deep, shimmering streaks of iridescence, called “white bait”, found in some of the wilder grain patterns. This particular grain is named after schools of New Zealand whitebait fish that emit a similar pattern when swimming in one direction.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swamp_kauri

    • Scintilla 14.1

      Hey MM, enough with the “deep, shimmering streaks of iridescence” already!

      Imagining a sinuous reclining figure with an iridescent streak swimming over its flank … and they’re making tabletops. Pardon me, I’m just off outside to scream.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • CTU speech – DPM
    Ladies and gentlemen, NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff, members of respective unions – thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. This might be preaching to the choir, but the importance of trade unions in New Zealand’s historical arch is difficult to understate. And it is my belief that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Police Association Annual Conference
    "Let’s start by acknowledging that it has been a huge year. " Police Association Annual Conference James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel Wellington Nau mai, haere mai. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, ka nui te mihi, ki a koutou katoa. President of the Police Association, Chris Cahill; Members of the Association and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • New Zealand announces a further P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark have announced the New Zealand Government’s decision to again deploy a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea. New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • New Zealand deeply concerned at developments in north-east Syria
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand continues to have serious concerns for peace and stability in north-east Syria. “Recent reports that hundreds of ISIS-affiliated families have fled from a camp are deeply concerning from a humanitarian and security perspective”, Mr Peters says. “While we acknowledge Turkey’s domestic security ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Government on high alert for stink bugs
    Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is warning travelling Kiwis to be vigilant as the high-season for the crop-eating brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is under way. “We’re on high alert to stop BMSB arriving in NZ. The high season runs until April 30 and we’ve strengthened our measures to stop stink ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • Better protections for students in halls of residence
    The Government is moving swiftly to change the law to improve the welfare and pastoral care of students living in university halls of residence and other tertiary hostels. Cabinet has agreed to several changes, including creating a new mandatory Code of Practice that sets out the duty of pastoral care ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New trapping guide for community and expert trappers alike
    The Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage has launched a new comprehensive trapping guide for community trappers to help them protect our native birds, plants and other wildlife, at Zealandia in Wellington today. ‘A practical guide to trapping’, has been developed by the Department of Conservation (DOC), and was launched during ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Widening Access to Contraceptives Welcomed
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter welcomes PHARMAC’s move to improve access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). PHARMAC has today announced it will fund the full cost of Mirena and Jaydess for anyone seeking long term contraception, lifting previous restrictions on access to Mirena. “I welcome women having greater choices ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Major upgrade for Taranaki Base Hospital
    The Government has approved the next stage of a major redevelopment of Taranaki Base Hospital, which will deliver new and improved facilities for patients. Health Minister Dr David Clark has announced details of a $300 million dollar project to build a new East Wing at the New Plymouth hospital. It ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Extra support for rural families
    Extra funding will allow Rural Support Trusts to help farming families, says Minister for Rural Communities and Agriculture Damien O’Connor. “I know that rural families are worried about some of the challenges facing them, including the ongoing uncertainty created by the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. “Those concerns sit alongside ongoing worries ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Howard Leaque Beekeeper programme graduation
    Thank you for the opportunity to be here to present certificates to the 16 graduates who have completed a beekeeping course delivered by the Howard League.  Let us start by acknowledging Auckland Prison’s Deputy Prison Director Tom Sherlock, and Acting Assistant Regional Commissioner of Corrections Northern Region Scott Walker - ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Finance Minister to attend APEC meetings
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson leaves this weekend to attend the APEC Finance Ministers meeting in Santiago, Chile. Discussions between APEC Finance Ministers at the meeting will include the effects of the current global economic uncertainty, risks for APEC economies and sustainable development of the region. While at APEC Grant Robertson ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Pacific languages are a source of strength, they ground us and build confidence
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says for Pacific people, language can be a source of strength. It can help ground us and give us confidence. When we speak them, our languages provide us with an immediate and intimate access to our identity and our story - and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Major boost to support disabled people in sport and recreation
    The Coalition Government has announced an action plan to improve the wellbeing of disabled New Zealanders by addressing inequalities in play, active recreation and sport. The initiative includes training to develop a workforce that understands the needs of children and young people with a range of impairments, advocacy for fit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • More prefab homes to be built as red tape cut
    The construction sector is being freed up to allow more homes to be built more quickly as the Government cuts through some of the red tape of the Building Act.  “Every New Zealander deserves a warm, dry, safe home and old inefficiencies in the Building Act make building slow and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Further details of Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit to New Zealand
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed further details on the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to New Zealand next month. Their Royal Highnesses will visit New Zealand from 17-23 November – their third joint visit to New Zealand and first in four years. They arrive in Auckland ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • O’Connor in Thailand to push for RCEP deal
    Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth and Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, heads to Thailand today to attend the final Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial meeting, as negotiations enter their final stages. “The RCEP Agreement would anchor New Zealand in a regional agreement that covers 16 countries, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Young Pacific people can access earning and learning opportunities in Hawke’s Bay, Otago and South...
    Pacific young people living in the Hawke’s Bay, Southland and Otago regions will have access to support services that have proved successful in helping young people find new earning and learning opportunities. “Tupu Aotearoa is about changing Pacific young peoples’ lives. Our young people are talented, they are smart, they ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Protecting wellbeing – ACC HQSC Trauma Forum
    Introduction As the Minister for ACC I thank you all for the work that you do supporting New Zealanders in their literally most vulnerable moments. From those who hold people’s lives in their hands, to the people who research technique, technology and trends, your work is highly valued. A special ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ economy in good shape – notes prepared for speeches in Christchurch
    Notes prepared for speeches in Christchurch – Wednesday 9 October 2019 Today’s topic, “trends and opportunities for the New Zealand economy,” is certainly one getting a great deal of commentary at the moment. Looking across the media landscape lately you’ll notice we aren’t the only ones having this discussion. There ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • World Mental Health Day a reminder of the importance of mental health work
    Minister of Health Dr David Clark and Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare say this year’s World Mental Health Day theme is a reminder of why the Government’s work on mental health is so important. “This year the World Federation for Mental Health has made suicide prevention the main theme ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Cultural Ministers Meeting
    Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni will represent the government at Australia’s Meeting of Cultural Ministers in Adelaide this week. “This year’s meeting is special because New Zealand is expected to become an International Member of the Meeting of Cultural Ministers at this Australian forum,” Carmel Sepuloni said. “The meeting is an opportunity to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • 608 claims resolved by GCCRS in first year
    The Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service has resolved 608 insurance and EQC claims in its first year in operation, Minister Megan Woods has announced. The government service, which celebrates its first birthday today, provides a one stop shop to help Cantabrians still battling to get their homes repaired or rebuilt ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • NZ economy in good shape
    Today’s topic, “trends and opportunities for the New Zealand economy,” is certainly one getting a great deal of commentary at the moment. Looking across the media landscape lately you’ll notice we aren’t the only ones having this discussion. There has been an increasing amount of attention paid to the outlook ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • NZTA to refocus on safety following review
    The Government is acting swiftly to strengthen NZTA’s regulatory role following a review into the Transport Agency, and Ministry of Transport’s performance as its monitor, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. An independent review by Martin Jenkins has found NZTA failed to properly regulate the transport sector under the previous ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Joint Cooperation Statement on Climate Change between the Netherlands and New Zealand
    The Netherlands and New Zealand have a long-standing and close relationship based on many shared interests and values. We value the rule of law, our democracies, and multilateralism.  And we value our environment – at home and globally. Right now there are major global challenges in all of these areas – ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government putting right Holidays Act underpayment in Health
    The Government is putting right a decade’s worth of underpayment to nurses, doctors and other health workers, says Health Minister Dr David Clark.  Initial sampling of District Health Boards payroll records has found that around $550-$650 million is owed to DHB staff to comply with the Holidays Act. It’s expected ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government accounts show strong economy
    A strong surplus and low debt show the economy is performing well, and means the Government is in a good position to meet the challenges of global economic uncertainty. “The surplus and low levels of debt show the economy is in good shape. This allows the Government to spend more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministers approve application to expand Waihi mine
    New applications from mining company OceanaGold to purchase land in Waihi for new tailings ponds associated with its gold mines have been approved. Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of Finance David Parker considered the applications under the Overseas Investment Act. Earlier this year, applications from OceanaGold to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla launches with tribute to tangata whenua
    New Zealanders in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay will witness Māori, Pākehā and Pacific voyaging traditions come together today as the Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla assembles for the first time, Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis says. “Tuia 250 is a national commemoration and an opportunity for honest conversations ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Visit to advance trade agenda with Europe and the Commonwealth
    Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker leaves tomorrow for Dubai, London and Berlin for a series of meetings to advance New Zealand’s trade interests.  In Dubai he will visit New Zealand’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 where construction is underway.  There he will meet Minister of State for International Cooperation, Her ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More cancer drugs confirmed – even more on horizon
    Confirmation that PHARMAC will fund two new cancer drugs is further evidence of the good progress the Government is making to improve the treatment of New Zealand’s leading cause of death, Health Minister David Clark says. From 1 December PHARMAC will fund alectinib (Alecensa) for ALK positive advanced non-small cell ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Boost for women in high performance sport
    An additional $2.7 million has been announced for the Government Strategy for Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation on the first anniversary of the strategy’s launch. Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson gave the opening address to the first Sport NZ Women + Girls Summit in Wellington today, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Parent support to help retain skilled migrants
    As part of its work to ensure businesses can get the skilled workers they need, the Coalition Government is re-opening and re-setting the Parent Category visa programme, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. The move will: support skilled migrants who help fill New Zealand’s skills gaps by providing a pathway for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Senior NZDF Officer to lead Peacekeeping Mission in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark has today announced Major General Evan Williams of the New Zealand Defence Force has been selected as the commander of a significant, longstanding peacekeeping mission in the Middle East. In December, Major General Williams takes over as Force Commander for the Multinational Force and Observers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Nurses star as Govt rebuilds health workforces
    A record number of nurses are now working to deliver health services to New Zealanders as the Government’s increased funding and new initiatives rebuild key workforces start to show results, Health Minister Dr David Clark says. •    1458 more DHB nurses since the Government took office •    106 more midwives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New agricultural trade envoy appointed
    Farmer and former Nuffield scholar Mel Poulton has been appointed New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, Minister for Trade and Export Growth, David Parker, and Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, announced today. The position supports key Government objectives, including raising the value of New Zealand agricultural goods and services. Mel is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pacific and Māori voyaging heritage celebrated for Tuia 250
    New Zealand’s Pacific and Māori voyaging heritage is acknowledged and celebrated today as waka of the Tuia 250 voyage flotilla arrive in Tūranga / Gisborne. “Today we celebrate Tangata Whenua, the first people of Aotearoa, and the triumphs of the voyaging tradition that brought our ancestors here from Polynesia 1000 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pacific languages are a root from which prosperity will grow
    “Fijian Language Week starts on Sunday and the theme reminds us how important it is that we each have something to anchor ourselves to, something that can help us pause and feel in control in a rapidly changing world,” says Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio. “Family, culture, faith, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ Government establishes innovative, industry-focused Airspace Integration Trials Programme
    The Government is establishing an Airspace Integration Trials Programme to support the safe testing and development of advanced unmanned aircraft and accelerate their integration into the aviation system, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods announced today. The Government will work with leading, innovative aviation industry partners to test and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago