Kiwis believe forestry should pay for slash damage – poll

An exclusive 1News Kantar Public Poll shows New Zealanders overwhelmingly think forestry companies should pay for at least some of the damage caused by forestry waste known as slash.

Cyclone Gabrielle caused large volumes of logs and debris to choke up rivers, which burst their banks flooding farmland with wood.

The forestry industry has committed to pay for the clean-up, but questions are being raised as to whether property owners will get compensated for the damage caused.

Mike and Bridget Parker’s crop farm at Tolaga Bay was smashed by slash.

"A large proportion of the maize will not be able to be picked. The kiwifruit orchard actually had full logs inside it," said Bridget.

In the latest 1News Kantar Public Poll, respondents were asked whether forestry companies should compensate farmers, homeowners and councils for any damage caused by slash.

Thirty-nine per cent said they should fully compensate, 45% said there should be some compensation, and 6% said nothing should be paid at all. The remaining 10% didn’t know or refused to answer.

The prime minister said compensation is not a cut-and-dry question.

“It'll depend on the context of an individual’s circumstances. But should the forestry sector be playing a leadership role in supporting the clean-up? Yes, they should.”

Janina Kopua said her community of Mangatuna has been devastated by cyclone and slash, with just three out of 20 families still living on her street.

Watch John Campbell's investigation of slash on the East Coast below:

She thinks both the council and forestry companies should provide compensation.

“The people at the top table making decisions need to think about what they can do to help. They're making money off our land, but they're not looking after it.”

Bridget Parker wants the Government to step in.

“The Government needs to get out here, pay for this mess, compensate every single person and community and business that's been frigged over,” said Bridget.

A body representing forestry companies, the Eastland Wood Council, wouldn’t comment on compensation.

But its CEO Philip Hope said the industry is committed to paying clean-up costs which will be in the millions of dollars.

“Some areas are unsafe to access with debris at the moment, so this is going to take months, but there is a commitment from the industry. The forestry industry is part of the community; they want to be part of the Tairawhiti primary industry. They're working hard to reset the industry and to address the clean-up and work with the ministerial inquiry,” said Hope.

The inquiry will focus on land use, but it doesn’t address compensation

National deputy leader Nicola Willis said foresters should take responsibility for their waste.

“So that means they should be taking responsibility for ensuring the damage doesn't occur in the first place,” said Willis.