Supporting indigenous forestry

There are 6.4 million hectares of native forest in New Zealand. Find out how MPI helps owners of indigenous forest manage and conserve their forests and what options are available for owners who don't want to manage their forests for timber.


Conservation matters

Around 80% of New Zealand's trees, bushes and flowers are endemic (found nowhere else in the world) and around 50% of our total land area is covered by native plants.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is responsible for conservation efforts across New Zealand. MPI works with DOC to sustainably manage and conserve forests in New Zealand.

  • Sustainability limits are set for all harvests.
  • During harvesting, trees containing hollows used by native fauna are set aside to provide important habitats for birds and insects.
  • MPI runs a variety of schemes to encourage regeneration and additional planting of indigenous forests.

Conserving and developing indigenous forests

Owners of indigenous forest land wishing to conserve or further develop their forests, or landowners wishing to plant indigenous forests, may be able to get support from the Māori Land Court, Te Puni Kōkiri and MPI.

The Māori Land Court and online database

The Māori Land Court plays an important role in the administration of Māori land in accordance with the provisions of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. It helps Māori landowners by promoting retention, use, development and control of Māori land.

The Court also manages an online database of indigenously-held land. The database allows people to search for land ownership by name, trust, reservation or incorporation.

Te Puni Kōkiri

Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK) works in partnership with other government agencies and stakeholders to:

  • design and deliver policies that affect Māori
  • ensure Māori concerns and views around land and environment are integrated into government policies and practices.

TPK runs the Whenua Māori Fund. The Fund supports Māori land owners to explore different uses of land and ways of boosting its productivity. Find out more on TPK's website.

Funding and programmes for forestry

MPI administers grants and development programmes in the forestry sector.

Find out more

Learn how some private forest owners are maximising the value of their indigenous forests:

Improving indigenous land

There are several options available for owners of indigenous forest who want to improve the biodiversity or conservation value of their land. They include using Department of Conservation (DOC) funds and setting up open space covenants.

DOC funds

The Ngā Whenua Rāhui fund provides protection for Māori landowners through the use of 25-year renewable kawenata (covenants).

The Mātauranga Kura Taiao Fund seeks to preserve the customs, history and stories associated with Māori land and tikanga.

The Nature Heritage Fund is an independent, contestable fund available to all privately owned land with a high biodiversity or ecological value.

National Trust open space covenants

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is an independent statutory organisation and a registered charity.

It was set up by an act of the same name in 1977 to 'encourage and promote, for the benefit of New Zealand, the provision, protection, preservation and enhancement of open space'.

Open space is defined in the Act as any area of land or body of water that:

  • serves to preserve or facilitate preservation of any landscape
  • is of aesthetic, cultural, recreational, scenic, scientific or social interest or value.

A National Trust open space covenant is a voluntary, legally binding protection agreement that is registered on the title of the land. Once in place, it binds the current and all future owners of the land it covers.

Each covenant is unique:

  • It can apply to a whole property or part of a property. 
  • There can be different management areas within a covenant – each with varying conditions.
  • Conditions may be inflexible where rare or vulnerable natural features or habitats are being protected.

Open space covenants are usually in perpetuity (unending) but fixed term covenants may be put in place in some cases.

Who to contact

If you have questions about the information on this page, email indigenous.forestry@mpi.govt.nz.

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