By NZHJ January 26, 2017 Industry news

The Timber Associations of the past may have vanished but some of the foundations they laid are still supporting the industry.

Take the example of the Northern Timber Association (NTA), which has largely been “in recess” since around 2000.

While NTA has led a name-only existence since then, the Executive has met annually and in November 2014 decided to consider an alternative future path.

The chosen new direction was to establish a charitable trust and in January 2016 the Northern Timber Association Charitable Trust (NTACT) was formally registered as a charity with the following foundation Board of Trustees:

  • Chairperson: Andrew Shirley (PlaceMakers).
  • Deputy Chairperson: John Merrick (TimberWorld).
  • Secretary & Trustee: Ian McGregor.
  • Trustees: Gordon Cashmore; Gary Key; Buster Young (PlaceMakers).

Armed with the remaining funds of the former NTA, the Trust will provide funding support to applicants from the area bounded in the North by the North Cape, and in the South by a line drawn East/West from Opotiki through Turangi to Taumaranui and then to Awakino in the West as an ongoing contribution to the timber industry, in particular assisting educational opportunities for those actively working in the industry or seeking to do so.

Applications for support that may be considered by the Trustees include:

  • Funding, promoting and supporting education which will benefit the timber industry.
  • Establishing scholarships and incentives for education which will benefit the timber industry.
  • Providing scholarship opportunities for university and technical institute students focused on timber.
  • Funding and supporting timber industry training courses (eg via BCITO and Competenz).
  • Supporting other registered charitable entities (eg Rotary Young Leadership, Spirit of Adventure, Outward Bound, NZ Timber Museum etc).

Some applications have already been received for the year ending 31 March 2017, which includes NTACT deciding to proceed with funding a Timber Scholarship at Massey University’s Albany campus which will be known as the Northern Timber Association Charitable Trust Training Scholarship.

Additionally NCACT is having Competenz facilitate three first-line management courses and three yardman training courses.

Future applications may be submitted in writing to the Secretary, Ian McGregor (NTACT, 1/26 Pleasant Rd, Glen Eden, Auckland 0602) or by email (



The Northern Timber Association Inc (NTA) evolved by way of periodical name changes to the earlier identities, the Auckland Sawmillers & Woodware Manufacturers Association, (founded in 1928-1929),  the Auckland Timber Merchants’ Association Inc (ATMA in August 1942) and the Auckland Timber Association (ATA, established in June 1983).

The Northern Timber Association (NTA) came into being in March 1994 and followed a decision to include their affairs under the same banner as the national industry organisation, the NZ Timber Industry Federation. (NZTIF)

This latter body was an amalgamation of the former NZ Timber Merchants Federation and the NZ Sawmillers’ Federation and, while its early days it seemed to handle the affairs of both merchants and sawmillers satisfactorily, the Federation began to wane as far as merchant membership was concerned and in due course the merchants established their own Associations as detailed above.

There have been suggestions that Timber Merchant Associations operated as far back as the late 1890s but close perusal of the booklet titled Northern Timber Association – The History confirms that earlier existence of such organisations could not be substantiated. 

During the 1970s and 1980s, perhaps in some cases even earlier, a number of individual regional Timber Merchant Associations were formed reaching a pinnacle of around 35 in number throughout the country.

Some well-known timber industry names from the past have been actively involved in the affairs of these Associations and for those participating in the industry today, may elicit some reminiscences of days long gone: Morris, Jackson, Cashmore, Aickin, Nicks, Pollard, Odlin, Bourke, Hawkins, Woodley, Aldiss, Jobberns, Ashby, Jones, Carter, Maddren, McNeil, Tukiri, Blakey, Flay, Hyland, Bentham, Merrick, Rudd, Sapwell, Anderson and many more.

For a number of commercial and to some extent political reasons the business carried out by these Associations on behalf of their members ceased to be meaningful, recommended retail price lists became “outlawed” and the other general services offered to members gradually faded into insignificance.

It is widely believed that today only one remains in existence, that being the Otago/Southland Association whose occasional meetings are understood to be of a more social than industrial affair.

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