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Wahine in Forestry Conference a huge success

The inaugural Wahine in Forestry conference brought together more than 60 women from around New Zealand for the first ever women-only forestry conference, providing two days of connection, learning and inspiration.

Wahine in Forestry is a newly formed group aimed at connecting, mentoring, empowering and developing skills for women entering the forestry sector as well as those already in established careers.

Four women from Rayonier Matariki Forests attended the two-day conference held in Hanmer Springs, on a site historically used by the NZ Forestry Service.

RMF’s Rebecca Coles, District Forester, Canterbury, said it was wonderful to bring so many women together and the event provided a strong sense of community, particularly for younger graduates entering forestry.

“It is important that women support women in what is a male dominated industry.  Stepping out of a university degree and onto a skid site can be daunting.  Having the mentoring of other women in forestry really helps to build your confidence,” says Rebecca.

During her 14+ years with RMF Rebecca says she personally has had an extremely positive experience in forestry.

“RMF employs good people and sets a really supportive culture,” continues Rebecca.  “The key is good communication so if there are any issues you have the hard conversations and sort it out.”

The conference was addressed by two excellent key note speakers. Leadership practitioner and coach, Melanie Beirne, is committed to harnessing the talent of women with a focus on millennials whom she believes are the future for a sustainable ‘women in leadership’ pipeline.  She took the group through various leadership skills and communication strategies to help in the navigation of a diverse and multigenerational workplace.

Dr Ellen Joan Nelson, an ex-army, academic, business mum, shared her compelling story and translated her experience into tips and tricks focused around leadership and team work, for the forestry women.

“It was a hugely valuable experience that has cemented connections and friendships across the industry and around the country.  The future for women in forestry looks bright,” said Rebecca.


Photo: Just 18% of women work in the forestry and wood processing sector.  RMF delegates (left to right): Hannah Munro (Graduate Forester, Northland), Katie Yallop (Graduate Forester, Bay of Plenty), Rebecca Coles (District Forester, Canterbury) and Phoebe Milne (Graduate Forester, Napier)