Our story, structure, and people

Find out about Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service.


Our story, our whakapapa

Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) was launched in May 2018 to lead the Government’s renewed focus on forestry and to strengthen and grow the forestry sector in New Zealand. It was renamed Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service on 29 April 2021. This is to better reflect the planning and strategic advice service provided to the forestry and wood processing sectors. The reason for the name change and the current vision for forestry are reflected in the Future of Forestry that was launched by Forestry Minister Stuart Nash.

Future of Forestry [PDF, 6.6 MB]

We’re working to sustainably expand, manage, and utilise New Zealand’s forest sources – exotic (non-native) and indigenous (native) – to benefit our environment, our regions, and our people.

To do this, we’re:

  • building strong and dedicated teams in the regions
  • working to provide a regulatory environment that supports a healthy environment, resilient communities, and a sustainable forestry sector
  • providing funding and grants to encourage planting and the restoration of native forest around the country, along with jobs for the regions
  • establishing joint ventures with iwi and other forestry sector partners to make sure the entire country benefits from a stronger forestry sector
  • using new spatial technologies to help our minister and our forestry partners understand land to make better decisions around forestry. 

Our structure

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service has 4 main teams.

Forestry and land management

The forestry and land management team is responsible for policy and implementation supporting sustainable land management, the use of our forestry resources, and New Zealand’s climate change responsibilities.

Forest development, grants, and partnerships

This team works with landowners, forestry partners, Government ministers, and other government agencies to support the commitment to plant one billion trees by 2028.

Crown Forestry

Crown Forestry manages the Crown’s commercial forestry assets, focusing on achieving the best return for the Government and meeting all the Crown’s legal and contractual obligations.

Crown Forestry looks after:

  • the Crown's forestry leases on Māori land
  • Crown forest on Crown land
  • forestry leases by other companies on Crown forest land.

Read more about Crown Forestry

Business and spatial intelligence

The business and spatial intelligence team provides advice for better decision-making within Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service and MPI.

Support from other MPI teams

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service is also supported by other teams within MPI like the policy and trade branch, which helps us with:

  • data, insights, and forestry policy (including afforestation policy)
  • skills, capability, and regulations.

Our people

Find out about Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service's senior leadership team:

Henry Weston

Acting deputy director-general Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service

Henry Weston
Henry Weston.

Henry has worked as the director of Forest Development, Grants and Partnerships over several months, before stepping in to the acting deputy director-general role. 

He comes with a diverse professional background, with previous roles including:

  • a commercial litigator in Wellington
  • policy positions with the Ombudsman
  • Treaty negotiations where he worked on most of the early settlement discussions
  • regional conservator for the Department of Conservation for the East Coast/Bay of Plenty region
  • group manager operations for the Rotorua Lakes Council.

Debbie Ward

Director business and spatial intelligence

Debbie Ward
Debbie Ward.

Debbie has a Bachelor of Business Studies (Hons), an Executive Masters in Public Administration, and more than 30 years’ experience in business management across a range of sectors.

  • Her previous roles include MPI’s director of security and privacy, and manager of IT performance and risk at Inland Revenue.
  • As the director of business and spatial intelligence, Debbie is responsible for managing across branch services including administrative support, corporate communications, business planning and reporting, event management, and project management office services.
  • She also manages the spatial intelligence team that supports not only Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service but MPI as a whole.

Oliver Hendrickson

Director forestry and land management

Oliver Hendrickson
Oliver Hendrickson.

Oliver has been with the MPI for 6 years with experience on a number of policy programmes including Resource Management Act reform and the National Policy Statement for Freshwater.

  • Oliver has a Masters of Law specialising in biodiversity, water, climate change, and resource management.
  • As the director of forestry and land management, Oliver has responsibility for the operation of the Emission Trading Scheme for Forestry, the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry, and administration of the Forests Act.
  • He leads a team that works regularly with councils and landowners to facilitate better environmental and productive land-use outcomes with a strong focus on afforestation options for highly erodible land.

Sam Keenan

Crown Forestry general manager

Sam Keenan
Sam Keenan.

Sam has been with MPI (and its predecessors) for 9 years, with experience in the commercial management of fisheries research and science, biosecurity, and more recently leading the Crown’s forestry operations.

  • Sam has a Bachelor of Forestry Science and a Professional Diploma in Procurement and Supply, and is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement of Supply.
  • As the general manager Crown Forestry, Sam is responsible for managing Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service’s portfolio of commercial forestry assets to achieve the best return for stakeholders while meeting the Crown’s legal obligations.
  • The portfolio of assets includes the new commercial ventures under the One Billion Trees Programme, as well as existing Crown forest leases entered into by the New Zealand Forest Service and other afforestation leases.

Jason Wilson

Director of sector investment

Jason joined Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service’s leadership team in March 2020, in the newly-established role of director sector investment.

As part of this position, Jason will help create a development plan for transforming New Zealand’s wood processing and manufacturing industry, in partnership with the forestry and wood processing industries and other Government agencies. The work will take into account how investment opportunities in New Zealand forestry can be enhanced, and how we can maximise the competitive edge of New Zealand wood.

Jason brings to Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service a wealth of experience in the commercial wood processing and manufacturing sectors in New Zealand as well as Australia, working at a senior level for a range of major Australasian wood processing companies.  

Alex Wilson

Acting director, forest development, grants and partnerships

Alex has more than 15 years’ experience in environmental services and primary industries within Auckland and Rotorua. She has held senior roles in catchment management, informatics, forestry, environmental funding, and closing landfills. Recently, Alex contributed to the establishment of the One Billion Trees programme and supported the regional scale-up of Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand), a new MPI branch (now named Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service).

Over the years, Alex has worked in Auckland Council and was part of the Auckland Transition Agency that merged the 7 Auckland councils. Her roles also include Auckland Zoo and Scion. Alex also spent 3 years as a maths and geography teacher at Papatoetoe High School, following a science degree in geography and a post-graduate diploma of secondary teaching. 

Alex is responsible for delivering the Government's forestry objectives through the One Billion Trees Fund. In addition to funding the planting of trees, the Fund also supports working with partners to kick-start training, research and technology, seedling production, and catchment-scale native restoration.

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