Ernslaw One buys Woodville sheep station

15 December 2015

Malaysian-owned forestry company Ernslaw One has been granted consent by the Overseas Investment Office to buy 1264-hectare Kumeroa Station near Woodville for $5.4 million.

At present the station is a sheep and beef farm. Ernslaw One intends to convert almost all of it to plantation forestry and sell off the 180-ha block containing the homestead.

Ernslaw operations manager Steve Couper said the purchase fitted in with its other forestry holdings in the Wairarapa.

"It was quite expensive, but it is near the main highway to Napier," Couper said. Cost per hectare of the planting is $1000. Because there is no return for 25 years, forestry owners depend on carbon credits to offset their investment. Couper predicted returns from the emissions trading scheme would improve.

The forest would be developed in two "hits", 500 ha a year. First plantings of radiata pine will start in July 2016.

The property is generally steep with good rainfall. No fertiliser would be required because it had sufficient. Couper said some former farms were too fertile for forestry.

Ernslaw One would continue to look at buying land which might prove suitable for forestry. The fourth largest forest owner in the country, Ernslaw One's owners are a family headed by Tan Sri Datuk Sir Tiong Hiew King. The company has been investing in New Zealand since 1990.

It has a broad geographic spread of forests, from the Coromandel, East Coast, Ohakune, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Marlborough, and Otago-Southland.

Story by Gerard Hutching, Stuff