2023 NZ Forester of the Year Announced at NZIF Awards

Forestry has an important role to play in New Zealand's transition to a zero-carbon economy.

Tue 11 Jul 23


New Zealand’s peak body for foresters, the New Zealand Insitute of Foresters (NZIF), has celebrated forestry’s role in meeting NZ’s climate commitments.

The comments were made during the NZIF’s night of nights, where President James Treadwell announced the 2023 Forester of the Year and the Prince of Wales Award for Sustainable Forestry at a dinner in Wellington.

In addition, David Evision and Don Hammon were recognised as Distinguished Fellows in recognition of their contributions to the growth and advancement of the NZ forest sector. 

According to Mr Treadwell, the recipients of this year’s awards represented a diverse range of skills and experiences, from dedicated grassroots efforts to impactful policy planning and execution and academic leadership.

New Zealand Forester of the Year

For 2023, Te Kapunga Dewes of Ngati Porou, Te Arawa and Te Whakatohea were named the New Zealand Forester of the Year.

Awarded to the person who has made an outstanding contribution to forestry, Mr Treadwell said Mr Dewes has been “an instrumental figure, navigating complex challenges and balancing divergent needs to improve the situation for all New Zealand foresters, not solely Maori foresters.”

Mr Dewes is the former CEO of PF Olsen and is head of the Māori Forestry Association.

In recent months he has been an outspoken critic of the New Zealand Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) reforms, which could result in forestry being removed from the current market.

“It told my great grandfather that we should be clearing all the natives and putting them into farmland; that’s the way to go.

“Fast forward, and we were told, ‘no no, actually clearing land was a very unclever idea, Māori, you fullas need to plant trees and boy have we got a tree for you, and it’s called a pine tree’.

“Now, the Government is saying, ‘Oh actually, Māori, pine trees are not good’.

Mr Dewes was presented with a unique carving crafted by Lyonel Grant. 

Mr Treadwell acknowledged his role in the growth and promotion of Maori forestry, ensuring the preservation of Maori land rights and fostering optimal land usage.

The 2023 Forester of the Year carving is displayed in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo Credit: NZIF)
Prince of Wales Sustainability Award for Sustainable Forestry

Grace Marshall was awarded the Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup for her PhD in transition forestry and its link to Iwi landowners.

Established in 2017, the Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup is awarded to a young professional in New Zealand’s forestry sector. 

It recognises individuals who demonstrate a commitment to sustainable forest management principles, including policy development, planning, practice, and responsible land stewardship based on scientific knowledge. 

Grace Marshall, 2023 Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup awardee. James Treadwell, NZIF
President looking on. (Photo Credit: NZIF)

Mr Treadwell emphasised the significance of this year’s award, noting that “it was meaningful as it was initiated by His Royal Highness King Charles, and this is the first time it is being presented since his coronation.” 

Mr Treadwell congratulated both recipients, noting that the NZIF “was fortunate to have a highly skilled cohort of industry professionals who set the benchmark for others to aspire to.”

The 2023 Princes of Wales Cup is displayed in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo Credit: NZIF)
The NZ Institute of Foresters is concerned about the ETS reforms

Last week Mr Treadwell joined the Forest Industries Contacting Association (FICA) in condemning the proposed changes to the ETS.

Mr Treadwell said in an open letter that changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which could see restrictions placed on how many forestry units companies could purchase to offset emissions, had already led to a reduced price for government units.

Now, Treadwell says the absence of consultation with the industry, coupled with a lack of coordination among government entities, has given rise to investor concerns, leading to a detrimental flight of capital from the

“Of particular concern is the government’s disregard for the advice provided by the Climate Change Commission (CCC), impacting the carbon market.”

“The CCC’s current draft advice to restrict new planting is concerning, and the National Party has further emphasised it, while the Labour Party has introduced measures to limit new planting through local council control.”


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