Greenpeace report angers furniture retailer

Last updated 23:24 07/02/2008

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South Island retailer Smiths City is embroiled in a row with Greenpeace over a report critical of its outdoor-furniture imports.

Smiths City Group managing director Rick Hellings said the report, produced by Greenpeace and Indonesia's Human Rights Committee, was a nonsense.

It ranked retailers on their policies of eliminating the sale of timber products from illegal and unsustainable sources, particularly the popular tropical hardwood kwila, often used in outdoor furniture, floors and decks.

The Christchurch-based retailer was given a D grade and was ranked 16th in a field of 19.

The Warehouse was given the highest grade, a B+, followed by Briscoes, Bunnings and Mitre 10.

The remainder, including Placemakers, Harvey Norman and the BBQ Factory, all received grades of C+ or lower.

The Green Party said the report was evidence that New Zealand companies were contributing to the destruction of the last of the world's great rainforests, primarily in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

"Indigenous people are losing their livelihoods and having their human rights abused, and endangered species are losing their habitat," party co-leader Russel Norman said.

He called for the Government to take steps to block the import of timber from trees taken illegally from rainforests.

Hellings questioned Greenpeace's methodology and accused its campaigners of ignoring efforts by his staff to discuss Smiths City's timber-furniture imports and outline its policies.

"We are very, very disappointed and a little angry," he said.

Group general manager Martin Simcock said Smiths City did not sell kwila.

"We made a decision a couple of years ago that we would not import kwila products, and the main reason for that was we could not verify that it came from a plantation source," he said.

 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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