Tasman Pulp & Paper Co Ltd

Date established
Date closed
Tasman Pulp & Paper Company Ltd - 1952-2000

In 1951 the New Zealand Government released a document, 'Proposals for the sale of logs from Kaingaroa State Forest', which suggested utilisation of rapidly maturing plantings of pinus radiata to establish a paper, pulp and newsprint industry in New Zealand.

The government received only one tender in response to the proposals, in the name of Tasman Pulp and Paper Company. The company undertook to build a pulp and newsprint mill to utilise the wood from Kaingaroa State Forest, while the government would guarantee to provide rail, road and deep-water wharf facilities, and on-site accommodation for workers.

Tasman Pulp and Paper Company Ltd was formally incorporated in 1952. Shares were held by the Crown, Fletcher Trust and Investment Ltd and the public. Australian Newsprint Mills also undertook to invest in one million shares but withdrew shortly before the project began. The first, provisional Board of Directors was chaired by Sir James Fletcher, with JC Fletcher as the other director appointed by Fletcher Trust and Investment Ltd. The Crown appointed as directors BC Ashwin (Assistant Secretary to the Treasury), AC Entrican (Director of Forests) and ER McKillop (Commissioner of Works). L J Stevens was a public director.

For the first two years, no trading took place as construction of the mill, Murupara-Kawerau railway and Mt Maunganui wharf progressed. Recruitment of management and site workers began and an agreement was entered into with Abitibi Power and Paper Company Ltd of Canada to provide staff training and technical advice. ML Hobday, formerly of Imperial Paper Mills was appointed General Manager. RC Adams of the Ministry of Works became Executive Assistant to the General Manager, GJ Schmitt of Treasury became the Company Secretary and JW Syme, who had been manager of the New Zealand Forest Service's Waipa Sawmill, became manager of the Timber Division.

In 1954, the company's New Zealand shareholding was expanded and the British papermakers, Albert E Reed and Company Ltd, took 1,500,000 shares. Further British investment came from the Commonwealth Development Finance Company, which took 500,000 shares. With their entry into the company, Reed's provided technical and management advice and appointed three directors, including the Director of Operations. Tasman's Articles of Association, which had been ratified in 1952, were amended in 1955 to allow Reeds and CDFC participation. At the same time a new Board was constituted to replace the provisional Board. The new Board consisted of Sir James Fletcher (I) and JC Fletcher representing the Fletcher Trust and Investment Company Ltd, BC Ashwin, AR Entrican and ER McKillop representing the Crown, BR Law and CM Richwhite representing the public shareholders, PG Walker and LJ Stevens representing Reeds and LS Dougal, who was Director of Operations.

ML Hobday resigned as General Manager in 1955 and GJ Schmitt became Commercial Manager as well as Company Secretary.
During 1955, first the pulp mill and later the newsprint machine were brought into production, followed by the sawmill in 1956. In 1956 the decision was made to install a second paper machine and to develop the Kawerau geothermal field, after tests showed considerable energy savings could result.

Tasman Pulp and Paper (Sales) Pty Ltd was established in Australia in 1956 to facilitate marketing of the company's products there. JN Franklin became Mill Manager, GJ Schmitt Commercial Manager and IG Clinkard Company Secretary.

In 1959, Bowater Paper Corporation Ltd of London acquired 1,500,000 shares in the company and, through their subsidiary company in Sydney, were granted a twenty-year contract for sales of Tasman's products and a ten-year management contract. LS Dougal was replaced by DW Timmis of Bowaters as Managing Direct or. CG Rye and KN Linforth also became Directors for Bowaters on Tasman's Board.

Sir Bernard Ashwin retired from the Board in 1960 and was replaced by EL Greensmith. Another of the Crown's original Directors, AR Entrican retired in 1962 and was replaced by AL Poole, the Director-General of Forests.

Tasman Pulp and Paper commissioned the second newsprint machine in 1962. In the same year, it purchased the Crown's shares in the Kaingaroa Logging Company and the administration of Kaingaroa Logging Company was integrated with Tasman's to reduce costs. Negotiations were begun with Australian Newsprint Mills Holdings Ltd for reciprocal shareholdings with Tasman. The existing shareholders ratified the proposals in 1963, ANM buying 2,000,000 Tasman shares for 700,000 pounds and gaining the right to appoint two directors to the Tasman Board. Tasman received an equal number of shares in ANM and two directorships on its Board. JC Fletcher and CG Rye were appointed as Tasman's directors to the Board of ANM and the Board of Tasman in 1963 consisted of Sir James Fletcher (I) and JC Fletcher, EL Greensmith, ER McKillop and AL Poole as Crown Directors, BR Law and CM Richwhite as the public Directors and J Martin Ritchie, KN Linforth, STF Ryder and LJ Schmitt of Bowaters and Reeds. The new ANM directors were RP Falkingham and PF Jones.

GJ Schmitt continued as Managing Director, but there were several new executive officers: JG Blackwood had replaced A. Western as Chief Engineer, W Olsen replaced N. Franklin as Mill Manager, MH Kjar had been appointed as Commercial Manager, GO Whatnall as Industrial Relations Manager and MHD. McKee was General Manager of Kaingaroa Logging Company. JW Syme continued as Timber Manager.

During 1964, Tasman acquired a majority interest in Stow & Sadgrove Ltd, pre-cut furniture manufacturers, who were a large customer for the company's timber. The name was changed at some time to Personality Pre-cut Furniture (and later to Tasman Exports Ltd). Tasman also invested in Forest Investigations Ltd, which was set up to explore future developments in the pulp and paper industry in New Zealand. Other shareholders in this company were Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd, H. Baigent & Sons Ltd, Bowater Paper Company (NZ) Ltd, Fletcher Trust and Investment Ltd and New Zealand Forest Products Ltd. The company's nursery began a tree improvement programme aimed at producing genetically superior seedlings for its own plantation and later for sale.
In 1965, Sir James Fletcher (I), who had been Chairman of the Board since Tasman's incorporation, retired from the Chair but remained a Director. JC Fletcher became Chairman in his place. Negotiations began with the Government and Maori land owners in the Tarawera valley to establish a joint venture company, in which Tasman would undertake to establish and maintain a new forest on land which was unusable for other purposes but, as more than three thousand Maori land owners were involved, Tarawera Forests Ltd was not incorporated until 1967.
In 1966, the company acquired an interest in Tascor (NZ) Ltd, a supplier of newsprint reel cores situated in Kawerau.
The Crown's Director, ER McKillop, retired and was replaced by MJ Moriarty.
In 1967, GJ Schmitt resigned and A Ireland was seconded from Bowaters in England as Managing Director. A Lissenden replaced KN Linforth as another of Bowater's Directors. FW Holmes became Economics Manager.

Sir James Fletcher (I) retired from the Board in 1968 and was replaced by JS Fletcher. W Olsen was promoted to General Manager and R Reed replaced him as Mill Manager.
In 1969 AL Poole retired from the Board and his place as a Crown Director was taken by SC Parker of Treasury. FA Conlon became Industrial Relations Manager after GO Whatnall.
During 1970, Project 'Tane', a major expansion of the pulp mill, was begun, with the objective of producing enough pulp to supply a third newsprint machine and a surplus for sale elsewhere. MJ Moriarty retired from the Board and the Crown appointed GL Easterbrook Smith of the Industries and Commerce Department in his place.
In 1971, the Government guaranteed a sufficient supply of wood from Kaingaroa and other state forests for a third paper machine and installation was begun.
Also in 1971, as part of a joint venture to acquire the Union Steam Ship Company, Tasman Pulp and Paper Company took one million shares in New Zealand Maritime Holdings Ltd, with the aim of improving access to shipping for its products. W Olsen became Managing Director on the retirement of A Ireland and AP Thompson (Director-General of Forests) replaced EL Greensmith on the Board of Directors.

A further acquisition of shares in New Zealand Maritime Holdings Ltd was made in 1972, maintaining Tasman as one of the three major shareholders. LJ Stevens, who had been one of the original Board members, died in 1972 and Reeds nominated AD Patience as his replacement.
MH Kjar, formerly Commercial Manager, was promoted to General Manager in 1972.
BR Law, another of the original directors, died in 1973 and JC Fair was elected by the public shareholders to replace him. J Martin Ritchie resigned and was replaced by Bowater's Executive Vice-Chairman and joint Managing Director, CF Popham. The Crown appointed former Commissioner of Works, JH Macky, to the Board on the retirement of G Easterbrook-Smith. BS Ashwin replaced R Reed as Mill Manager.

Major changes to Tasman's shareholdings occurred during 1974. The Crown and Fletcher Trust and Investment Ltd bought out Bowater's shares in January. Consequently, CF Popham resigned from the Board and was replaced by KJ Futter (Secretary of Trade and Industry) and KH Davenport took the place of Sir Don Ryder. Sir Philip Jones of ANM retired and was replaced by AH Brydon.
MH Kjar, the General Manager, died; W Badhams was appointed Financial Controller and BJ Godfrey Commercial Services Manager. The pulp mill was brought into production in 1974 but the newsprint machine was delayed further. The No. 3 newsprint machine was finally commissioned in 1975.
In 1975, an arrangement was made with the Union Steam Ship Company for Tasman Pulp and Paper Company Ltd to own and operate two ships exclusively for transporting the company's products to Australia and the South Island. The Crown appointed CH Terry (Assistant Secretary to Treasury) to the Board on the retirement of SC Parker. R Reed was appointed Operations and Engineering Manager.

AH Brydon retired from the Board in 1976 and ANM replaced him with KD MacPherson. On the executive staff, JG Blackwood, Chief Engineer, became Engineering Manager, leaving R Reed as Operations Manager. RG Sutherland became Timber Manager, replacing JW Syme.
All three of the Crown's Directors, KJ Futter, JH Macky and AP Thomson retired from the Board in 1977 and were replaced by RR Trotter, J Mowbray and GW Valentine. CM Richwhite, one of the original public directors, retired and was replaced by PW Grayburn. An associated company, Forestry Shippers Ltd, was formed in 1977 to purchase two specialised forest produce ships to charter to Tasman. Finance for construction was guaranteed by Tasman.

Further major changes to the structure of the company were made in 1978. Tasman and ANM discontinued their mutual shareholdings and their directorships on each others boards were terminated. This meant that RP Falkingham, KD MacPherson and AR Lissenden were no longer directors of Tasman. W Olsen resigned and LC Ryan became Managing Director, RR Trotter was elected Chairman and JC Fletcher became Deputy Chairman. The Tasman Pulp and Paper Company Ltd Board now consisted of RR Trotter, JC Fletcher, LC Ryan, AB Downey, JC Fair, JS Fletcher, PW Grayburn, JMowbray, CH Terry and GW Valentine. There were three associate directors DP Best, IG Clinkard and GD Mace. Other changes were made to the executive structure, with a number of new managerial positions being created and the corporate headquarters being moved to Auckland from Kawerau. DP Best was appointed Associate Director of Operations, J McDonald Planning Manager and BJ Godfrey Group Product Manager. RE Parrott became Manager of the Timber Division, with JP Read, New Zealand Sales Manager and SR Vernon Production Manager responsible to him.

The 20-year sales contract with Bowaters was terminated a year early and a Marketing Division of Tasman established in Auckland, headed by GD Mace as Associate Director. W Dunstan became Director and Manager of Tasman Pulp and Paper (Aust) Pty Ltd and established market liaison offices in Sydney and Melbourne. The Company Secretary, IG Clinkard, was appointed Associate Director with responsibility for corporate and legal affairs.
Another development in 1978 was the decision to shed Forestry Shippers Ltd. One ship was sold to the Development Finance Corporation Ltd and leased back by Tasman and the other was bought directly by the company. Also in that year, an agreement was made with the Crown for the latter to buy Tasman's bores, equipment and pipelines on the Kawerau geothermal field and to supply the company with steam.

In 1979 changes proposed to the Articles of Association two years earlier were carried out. The shareholding groups, except for the ANM shares, were abolished and replaced with two groups , A and B. All directors except the Managing Director and the ANM directors would be elected by all shareholders except ANM. The maximum number of directors was also increased from ten to eleven. At the same time, the Government decided to sell its shares in the company. Shares not taken up by existing shareholders were offered to Tasman employees. Following the Government move, Fletcher Holdings Ltd sold one third of its total voting shares to Challenge Corporation Ltd, Fletcher Holdings' voting percentage remaining at 46.2%. Two-thirds of the Crown's four million participating preference shares, which carried no voting rights, were sold to Fletcher Holdings, one-third to Challenge Corporation. With the sale of the Crown' s shares, its directors resigned from the Board and were replaced by JR Fletcher, HA Fletcher and IR Small. MS Hood was appointed Associate Director of Finance and Planning. On the executive staff, R Usmar became General Manager of Forestry and Logging, replacing M. McKee, Manager of the Kaingaroa Logging Company.

During 1979, Tasman Pulp and Paper Company Ltd acquired the Lakeside Timber Company and also bought Fletcher Timber Ltd's Taupo and Ngongotaha sawmills, with Fletcher Timber retaining the site management.

As at 31 March 1980, Tasman's Board of Directors consisted of RR Trotter, Sir James Fletcher (II), LC Ryan, AB Downey, JC Fair, HA Fletcher, JR Fletcher, JS Fletcher, PW Grayburn and IR Small. The executive staff were LC Ryan, Managing Director, DP Best, Associate Director of Finance and Planning, GD Mace, Associate Director of Marketing, BS Ashwin, Mill Manager, JG Blackwood, Engineering Manager, FA Conlon, Employee Relations Manager, BR Fuller, Chief Accountant, BJ Godfrey, Group Product Manager, RE Parrott, Manager Timber Division, R Usmar, General Manager Forestry and Logging, TNB Wilson, Assistant Secretary and W Dunstan, Director and Manager of Tasman Pulp and Paper (Aust) Pty Ltd.

In 1980, the Boards of Fletcher Holdings Ltd, Challenge Corporation Ltd and Tasman Pulp and Paper Company Ltd decided to merge their interests and form one group, to be know as Fletcher Challenge Ltd. The new company was incorporated in January 1981, although Tasman Pulp and Paper Company Ltd continued to operate as a separate entity.

On March 1, 1992 BC Landman became Director of Operations at Tasman Pulp & Paper, replacing BJ Whitcher.

In May 1994 Ida Goodreau was appointed Managing Director, Ms Goodreau was previously Senior Vice President Human Resources of Fletcher Challenge Canada.

In 1995 the Kawerau newsprint mill added specialty paper grades, 'Hi Brite' and 'SupaBrite which were developed specifically for use on new generation high speed presses. These grades represented 10 percent of 1996 sales.

In 1995 the mill's annual 400,000 tonne capacity, approximately 145,000 tonnes is sold domestically. Approximately 185,000 tonnes of the remaining production is sold into Australia, with the balance being sold in Asia.

In February 1996 the reorganisation of the capital structure of FLETCHER CHALLENGE LTD Ordinary Division created three new targeted shares reflecting the performance of individual industry groupings. The three new shares Fletcher Challenge Building, Fletcher Challenge Energy and Fletcher Challenge Paper joined with the aleady created Fletcher Challenge Forests to establish the four share divisions of Fletcher Challenge Ltd. Tasman Pulp & Paper became part of Fletcher Challenge Paper Division which consists of the Group's interests in the manufacture and distribution of communication papers and market kraft pulp, related forestry and other activities. FC Paper includes interests in Chile, Australia, Canada , United Kingdom and the Unites States of America.

In February 1997 a new managing director was appointed - BJ Whitcher who replaces Ida Goodreau In July 1999 Fletcher Challenge announced a major restructuring of the Paper Division through the merger of the Fletcher Paper Division with Fletcher Challenge Canada. The new enity will not be part of the Fletcher Group and will probably be effective within the next few months

On July 30 2000 the Fletcher Challenge Ltd Paper Division was divested to Norske Skogindustrier ASA. The new owner undertook to ensure that the Tasman Pulp & Paper Company will continue to operate as is currently operated for two years