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Breakout Session

GDC Forestry Investigation Presentation

A deep dive into the forestry compliance investigation that took place post Cyclone Hale and Gabrielle.


Extreme rainfalls have become a known risk on the East Coast. In response to Cyclone Bola large areas of Tairawhiti were reafforested in an attempt to mitigate the large number of slope failures that occurred on highly erodible soils. These forests are now at maturity and are being harvested.

Post Cyclone Hale and Gabrielle in 2023 woody debris (harvesting waste, standing trees and windthrow) mobilised off our slopes, down rivers and onto our beaches;


  • Causing an accidental death of a 11 year old boy playing on the beach amongst the floating logs;

  • Damaging our water pipe in 9 places cutting the community off from its main supply of water for 45 days;

  • Destroying 12 bridges and damaging more than 140;

  • Inciting the petition for an independent inquiry into the regulations for land use and the establishment of a ministerial group.

Our presentation will cover the in-depth compliance investigation that took place in response to these results, including;


  1. The risk assessments of forests based on imagery and intel received;

  2. the tools used (e.g google earth pro) to collate the information received from site visits, aerial assessments and satellite imagery;

  3. Case management required to stay on top of an active investigation with a team of 13 members and over 60 forest visits;

  4. General themes of non compliances found throughout the region;

  5. The merits and drawbacks of instituting either an enforcement order or prosecution in response to the non compliances found;

  6. Enforcement complexities we experienced(e.g. ambiguous consent conditions) and how we attempted to overcome them; 

  7. Lessons learnt, being part of such a big investigation required out the box thinking and on the spot problem solving which didn't always work out; and

  8. The path forward.


Wednesday 27th Nov

11:30am - 12:35pm


Jamie Botes
Senior Investigator- Compliance and Enforcement Team, Gisborne District Council


Hi I am Jamie Botes, a senior investigator for Gisborne District Council(GDC)'s Compliance and Enforcement Team.

I started at GDC roughly 2 years ago after I immigrated from South Africa where I was a practicing litigation lawyer.

I transitioned into Gisborne's  regulatory space where I found myself at the forefront of the investigation into Tairawhiti's forestry practices after Cyclone Hale and Gabrielle.


Kevin Ford
Senior Investigiator, 
Gisborne District Council

I am Kevin Ford, senior investigator, GDC Compliance & Enforcement Team.

I have been with Council for one year and throughout this time I have been heavily involved in the investigation into forestry practices in the Tairawhiti District and the environmental effects following Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle.

I have extensive experience as an investigator with police and also have experience in farming and horticulture.

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