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New sawmill for Mangaia

Friday 15 October 2021 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in National, Outer Islands

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New sawmill for Mangaia
Ngametua Papatua, Chairman, Mangaia Forestry Group. 21101417

A Japanese grant worth over $132,000 is funding a project that is expected to generate affordable building materials and employment and training for school leavers, to assist in population retention on Mangaia.

The southern group island of Mangaia is set to get a new sawmill with help from Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security Projects (GGP) that gave $132,914 to the project.

Chairman of Mangaia Forestry Group, Ngametua Papatua said prior to the funding, the island had been operating on a small scale for 20 years.

Papatua said it was time the machine was upgraded.

“This will be a big help going into the future, there’s a lot of benefit that comes from this for our people, especially those who want to build their own house here on the island,” Papatua said.

“We have already built over 20 houses here made with local timber… so this will be a big help for our building sector, to assist our local people to mitigate the cost for purchasing timber from overseas.

“Costing has gone up for building materials so securing this kind of machine will help us in the long run.”

The local timber on the island is used for internal parts of housing, roofing and building furniture, he said.

In 1986 New Zealand pine was planted on the island, Papatua said it’s now matured and ready to be used. Mahogany and albizia are also used for construction on the island.

The grant contract for the project was signed by Papatua in Mangaia and Ambassador ITO Koichi in the Embassy of Japan to the Cook


Ambassador ITO Koichi, Embassy of Japan to the Cook Islands. 21101418

Islands in Wellington in September 15 and October 13, respectively.

In a statement, the Embassy of Japan in Wellington said: “The project aims to contribute to long term forestry management and reduce the impact on the natural resources by controlling the invasive trees.”

The project is also established for education purposes.

Papatua explained: “Part of the component of this project is to teach students that are attending school in their final year and bring them to the mill, teach them how to use the mill.”

“The skills itself is what we call life skills and these life skills will help us survive or die and not only that but they can use their skills if they ever decide to go overseas and live elsewhere apart from Mangaia.”

The statement said, “the project is also expected to generate affordable building materials and employment and training for school leavers, all of which can assist in population retention.”

Papatua thanked the Embassy of Japan to the Cook Islands in Wellington for funding the mill.