Nicky Hager and Bob Burton wrote a book "Secrets and Lies: the anatomy of an anti-environmentalist campaign" in 1999, just prior to the New Zealand General election. In a careful analysis of the actual facts and the book, Chris Perley shows that Hager and Burton pretended to write investigative journalism, but didn't. They actually used propaganda methods reminiscent of other cultures in an unscrupulous, cynical, misleading and untruthful PR campaign. This was directed against the Timberlands West Coast sustainable forest management plans for state indigenous beech forest to enhance the welfare of threatened wildlife and boost the regional society.

Analysis and Synopsis of "Secrets and Lies:
the anatomy of an anti-environmentalist campaign

By Chris Perley.
Chris Perley and Associates

This analysis was carried out to draft stage for Timberlands West Coast Ltd in November 1999 in anticipation of Parliamentary Select Committee questions relating to the book "Secrets and Lies". This publication is with permission. There have been slight revisions to the draft since November by the original author, either for clarity, or in light of additional information.




The book continually makes a number of implicit general claims that can be considered as themes throughout the book.

These themes may be believed by certain readers, particularly those readers without access to the balance of facts.

This book makes no attempt to provide such a balance, continually putting a slant on things (see 1.1 below).

These implicit claims are:
  • that the book represents investigative journalism; that is, it is an objective document that is not part of any public relations campaign
  • that Timberlands are liars who have duped the public (and by inference that the authors represent "truth")
  • that Timberlands is lying when representing to the public that sustainable beech forest management is a beneficial practice (the authors claim it is harmful)
  • that Timberlands has an anti-environmental philosophy.
These claims are all false, as detailed below.


FACT:This is a very contrived PR document in its own right. The PR ability of the more extreme environmental movement's is evidenced by the whole launch of Secrets and Lies. It was well orchestrated, with approaches to and cultivation of inside sources, and with media contacts primed for the book release in advance.

The book's use of propaganda tactics is the most obvious evidence of it being a PR document. It is evidenced simply by their choice of loaded words.

On just two pages Timberlands and its advisors are associated with words and phrases such as: "powerful", "professional propagandists", "impose invisibly the will of special interests upon the public", "plot", "anti-environmental campaign", "secret",
"lie", "hidden propaganda war", "mercenary", and "logging" - all emotively and negatively loaded.

The book also practices other propaganda tactics. It selectively omits information that may explain the context of their claims, and that might show Timberlands in a good light, or the anti-Timberlands environmentalists in a bad light. It uses guilt - by - association methods to smear Timberlands by associating it indirectly with international assassinations and environmental degradation. Finally, it distorts information to ensure that readers infer something that is incorrect.

The whole book is geared towards presenting a particular distorted and dishonest view, yet waves the banner of "investigative journalism" proudly aloft.


FACT: Timberlands has not lied. It has a policy of correcting the misinformation of the anti-Timberlands environmentalist campaigners, some of whom no doubt believe what they are saying. Without Timberlands refuting their claims there would be much less debate and dialogue relating to the environmental issues associated with sustainable beech management.

The anti-Timberlands environmentalists are quite willing to use tactics to prevent others voicing counter opinions. That includes personal attacks on individuals' credibility and motives.

It is a far more credible accusation that it is the public who have been "duped" by the simplistic environmentalist campaign that "the death of a tree means the death of a forest", or "use means destruction".


FACT: Timberlands is proposing ecosystem-based management. This method is new for New Zealand, but has been developed in Europe and North America over the last 15 years. It is a revolution in management in that it places the functions of the ecosystem before resource extraction.

Because of the revolutionary nature of the management proposals, Timberlands does not deny that it has put effort into raising the public's awareness of its management proposals, and have contested misinformation wherever it has occurred.

This does not represent an attempt by Timberlands to convince the public of a falsehood, as the authors imply.

New Zealand environmentalists as a group are well behind the international debate in this regard. A sustainable future requires ecologically sensitive management such as Timberlands propose. This is why Timberlands has support from a number of environmentalists. These arguably more sophisticated environmentalists recognise that people use resources, and the use of renewable resources such as wood managed within an ecosystem understanding is far more preferable to locking up these resources and continuing to rely upon non-renewable and environmentally destructive processes.

Timberlands fully expects that the biodiversity within their ecologically managed forests will be at least as good, and probably better than it is at present. They believe the evidence strongly supports the view that you can have a sustained or enhanced environment, as well as an economic return and a viable community.


FACT: Timberlands is not anti-environment; they are pro-environment. That is why their management puts the functions of the ecosystems first, and proposes a management approach that doesn't favour timber production over any other function the forests perform.

None of the public relations undertaken by the company has included any suggestion that a healthy environment is not necessary . Timberlands entirely accepts that. Its whole focus in its management plan is to achieve that end.

Other environmentalists share Timberlands' approach as the best means to achieving sustainability while providing for communities and an economic return.

Most anti-Timberlands environmentalists do not subscribe to the inclusion of either communities or a sustainable economy in the debate. They think the solution for a sustainable future is as simple as stopping people harvesting trees, even to the point of suggesting non-renewable substitutes for wood such as metals and plastics, or timber being imported from other countries' forests. This reflects the naivete, and narrow focus, of their stance.


The introduction to Secrets and Lies sets out the major specific claims against Timberlands in a form of executive summary. A more detailed appraisal of these individuals points in found in sections three through thirteen.

The major claims, and responses, are set out below.

2.1   MOST PRO-TIMBERLANDS' INFORMATION CAME FROM PR COMPANY OFFICES. "There is a good chance" that anything heard or read that expounds the virtues of "logging New Zealand's West Coast native forests" was planned or written in the office of a public relations company (pages 11, 15).

FACT: This is entirely unsubstantiated, and is wrong. It dismisses and discounts the efforts of many people who, despite the personal attacks that were almost inevitable from the anti-Timberlands environmentalists, were prepared to publicly endorse Timberlands' operations.

It also ignores the efforts of the anti-Timberlands lobby to quench any support. These included attacks on people and organisations with strong environmental credentials, including well respected ecologists, the WWF and Guy Salmon. They were either treated as traitors, stooges, or were derided as having alternative (i.e. non-environmental) agendas.

2.2     TIMBERLANDS' COUNTER-CAMPAIGN WAS MORE THAN WHAT IS JUSTIFIABLE. Argues there was "much, much more going on" than a government agency simply putting its side of the story (page 12). Refers to "concerted and often aggressive counter campaign, going far beyond what appeared normal or reasonable", "paint[ing] ..concerns as extreme and unreasonable".

FACT: This is an argument about degree. It is also an argument that is foundered on the false speculation that Timberlands was responsible for all the campaigning by the Coast Action Network. Additionally it is foundered on the unreasonable and untenable view that all Timberlands' actions, including operational management aimed at some aspect of ecological protection, represent some cynical "sponsorship" to dupe supporters, or underhand tactics to gather information and discredit opponents.

All Timberlands' actions are presented with a negative spin. The fact that there is not one positive comment about Timberlands is proof enough that the authors are not intent on truth as an end.

Timberlands has a right to defend its position, and to counter misinformation. How far Timberlands went was dictated, not by a "proactive anti-environmental campaign" as the authors would suggest, but by the reaction necessary to refute what were often "extreme and unreasonable" claims.


FACT: Timberlands did not pursue an anti-environmental campaign. It pursued, on the one hand a strategy to respond to every piece of misinformation put to the media by such groups as Native Forest Action and its supporters, and on the other hand an information campaign explaining to the public and politicians what was involved in Timberlands' actions and intentions. This is entirely appropriate given 1. the public interest in the Timberlands' sustainable management plans, and 2. the alternative of a one-sided, extremist story involving a simple message to the public, which is both false and derogatory of the company's intentions.

Part of responding to every piece of misinformation is obviously to identify what misinformation had been put forward by the anti-Timberlands environmentalists. The misinformation was not of Timberlands' making. Timberlands reacted to it with correct information.

In as much as "lobbying" can be seen as providing information, then - yes, Timberlands does "lobby" (see 12.1). But that "lobbying" does not involve coercion or deliberate manipulation of the truth, which is the more common association with the word.


FACT: This is incorrect. Neither Timberlands nor Shandwick NZ had anything to do with the establishment of Coast Action Network (refer to letter to the Independent from Klaus Sorensen 22.09.99 – in which he refutes any involvement in the establishment or supply of letters to CAN).

The claim has also been strongly countered by members of that group. It is a speculation made from very tenuous references, all explainable. These include:
  1. an item in a set of minutes referring to a forestry trust that was never actioned,
  2. a misunderstood fax from Shandwick relating to the Princess of Wales which had nothing to do with CAN, but rather the Coast Action Group, a grouping of West Coast councils, and
  3. one reference to Cotrina Reynolds' intention to reply to yet another misinformed item in the Herald, upon which Shandwick offered her their already prepared reply they had written for Timberlands.
This can in no way be called evidence for Timberlands being involved in the establishment, or for organizing a letter writing campaign through the Coast Action Network.

2.5   DRAFTING LETTERS FOR COAST ACTION NETWORK. " PR consultant ... writing letters in the voice of annoyed West Coasters, tired of outside interference in their lives ... which Timberlands had arranged to get 'its' community action group to sign and post off to newspaper and to a Cabinet Minister who was thought not to be 'on side'." (page 14)

FACT: (refer also to 10.2 and 10.3 for details) This is incorrect. Shandwick are also on record (Letter to Independent 22 Sept 99) as disputing this and explaining the convenient confusion.

The concoction of the authors is based on a mistake. Letters were not written for CAN. As stated, Timberlands has a strategy to respond to every piece of misinformation publicised by anti-Timberlands groups such as NFA and its supporters. One piece of misinformation also involved the Princess of Wales. An Action Group, run by the West Coast local authorities independently approached Timberlands seeking advice on how the specific matter could be addressed.

All concerned recognised that it would be inappropriate in this case for an SOE to be seen to be opposing a proposal to commemorate a recently deceased princess. As a result Timberlands asked Shandwick to draft a letter, which were then given to the Coast Action Group (NB Not CAN) for action. Because of the involvement of the princess, the statement was made in Shandwick's fax that it was better in this instance that it come from them rather than Timberlands. Timberlands' staff can find no record of that letter even being published.

That in no way provides any evidence of a concerted campaign of letters written for and provided to the Coast Action Network, an independent organisation.

The Coast Action Network have themselves denied all claims of establishment or financial underwriting by Timberlands, financial support for travel, and provision of letters for their members to sign. The books authors have got it wrong. There was no Timberlands' letter writing campaign from Shandwick to CAN. CAN representatives are quite capable of seeing the misinformation put forward by extreme environmentalists for themselves and responding as intelligent and concerned citizens. The authors seem unable to accept this.

As stated in 2.4 above, the connection made in the book between Timberlands and the establishment of CAN is a fabrication based on a reference to a forestry trust in a set of minutes that went no further (page 158), and two references to letters (pages 161 and 162), one to the Coast Action Group and one to Cotrina Reynolds, that are entirely explainable (see 10.3 and 10.4).

Even if these two letters were both initiatives to supply CAN with letters from Shandwick, it hardly represents a "campaign".

2.6 "    MANIPULATING MEDIA", "CULTIVATING ALLIES", "BUYING LOCAL SUPPORT THROUGH SPONSORSHIP" (P 15). "The company set out to orchestrate a national political campaign in favour of logging where otherwise there would not have been one."

FACT: This sort of cynical manipulation is strongly denied by Timberlands. It is another fabrication and distortion of the facts (for more details refer to sections 9 and 10).

The inference that without Timberlands' "PR manipulation" there would be no counter to the anti-Timberlands misinformation is not just false, but anti-democratic and insulting to those local supporters and environmentalist who really believe in Timberlands' methods as a solution to the environmental problems the world faces.

The anti-Timberlands environmentalists were taking extreme measures to silence any public opponents to their simplistic line, but that support remains because they understand enough about forests and Timberlands' intentions for them to make up their own minds.

It is the anti-Timberlands campaigners that have their minds absolutely closed even to the possibility of he ecologically-based, sustainable management of forests.



FACT: This claim is simplistic, and wrong. Its premise is that you cannot have use and protection of the ecosystem on the same piece of land. You can, and Timberlands' environmentalist supporters argue you must have it in order for a sustainable future to be achieved. They argue that humans use resources and that a sustainable future requires the use of renewable resources like timber along the sustainable management lines practiced by Timberlands.

3.2     LEGAL ACTION BY TIMBERLANDS (page 19). Claims that legal challenges to certain individuals "critical of the company's logging" have caused retractions from these speakers. Inference of heavy-handedness.

FACT:: The book implies that such retractions are due to a somehow unfair influence wielded by Timberlands – that Timberlands is somehow being unethical by taking legal action. The company believes it is being ethical. If these speakers had told the truth or shown more knowledge and balance, then no retraction would have been necessary.

Legal challenges were only brought where damage to the company was serious and where the action taken by Timberlands' opponents was unlawful. The company has a right to proceed to the independent arbitration of the courts should the need arise.

The fact that the company has had retractions of false statements and unlawful actions speaks for itself. The plaintive has been in the right.

Unfortunately Timberlands can only get retractions for obvious and pretty clear cut misinformation. As a result, many of the half-truths and subtle negatives cannot be refuted, and do great damage to an objective debate.


FACT: the strategy of responding to all misinformation requires that knowledge is gained of where this has occurred. Applying to mailing lists is a standard means of accessing information.


FACT: Timberlands' communication budget includes product relating marketing and advertising as well as sponsorship and public relations.

This distinction is not made clear by the book. It lumps the whole communications budget into the pejorative "public relations" category in order to distort the truth in favour of its "evidence" that the West Coast and New Zealand are being duped by Timberlands.

It further manipulates the truth by claiming that "the public relations campaign was costing the public (through Timberlands) up to a million dollars a year, yet it was being conducted almost invisibly" (page 19). In the first instance the communications budget has never approached one million dollars. The figures for the last five years have been $207,000 (1995), $323,000 (1996), $282,000 (1997), $697,000 (1998) and $572,000 (1999). Of the component parts, sponsorship has been the largest single item.

Public relations expenditure within that budget for the last four years has been $117,000 (1996), $62,000 (1997), $234,000 (1998) and $100,000 (1999), with the recent increases in the budget associated with the development and publicity of the beech management plan. The company believes it would have been remiss if it hadn't promoted these plans. The size of the budget is also a reflection of the amount and nature of misinformation being put forward by its opponents.

All activities carried out under the communications budget are legitimate items of business for a company supplying timber to various markets, especially where markets need to be maintained and developed. The modest PR budget, within the greater communications budget, is particularly legitimate where a company is developing public plans that need to be promoted and involve public submission.

Where the million dollar figure the authors state comes from is unclear. However, they claim in other parts of the book that such work as research on forest ecology and pest control is "sponsoring", presumably to "buy" the support of the researchers. This is a hardly a credible claim. It is cynical and ridiculous.

It can be speculated that they add all research budgets to the communication budgets to get their figure. This would also explain what they mean by "was being conducted invisibly" - that is, PR conducted not as obvious PR but "hidden" as research.

If this was how they got their figure it once again demonstrates the nature of the book.


The background of Shandwick cannot be held against Timberlands. This is a red herring and pretty obvious guilt-by-association propaganda – not unlike stating "Mary, whose former lover's cousin was rumoured to be a child molester, went for a walk past the school one day." That the authors are apparently comfortable to make these sort of links again reflects the bias of the book.


4.1     TIMBERLANDS' CORPORATE COMMUNICATION STRATEGY. CORE OF STRATEGY WAS "COUNTERING ITS OPPONENTS" (page 31). "The main thrust of the communications strategy is to limit public support for environmentally-based campaigns against Timberlands, thereby limiting public pressure on the political process"

FACT: Part of Timberlands' strategy was to counter opposition. It could hardly be expected not to have such a role. This is especially so when so many involved in the concerted campaign against it had no compunction to get their facts right, and continued the misinformation line that Timberlands were intent on destroying forests.

If the authors had included the whole communications strategy instead of quoting pieces out of context, that message would have been obvious.

4.2     PAINTING OPPOSITION AS EXTREME, AND SPREADING MISINFORMATION (page 31). "The PR 'spin' involved attempting to discredit the opposition as being small, extreme and embarked on a campaign of misinformation."

FACT: Timberlands sought to present its side of the story in response to any anti-Timberlands propaganda. In some instances this clearly showed that these campaigners were extremist and misinforming the public. Timberlands did not go out if its way to paint them as extremist; their own actions saw to that.

An example is where Timberlands have been accused of "environmental vandalism". Dave Hilliard is quoted as responding: "Timberlands is accused of environmental vandalism by a group of extreme activists who are self-appointed, misinformed, and politically motivated". The authors are trying to paint Mr Hilliard's comments as part of a PR spin as evidence for their statements above. In fact, he is telling the plain and simple truth, because any statement accusing Timberlands of "environmental vandalism" is both extreme and misinformed. Politics is involved. They are self appointed as the only true believers and defenders of the faith. These are the facts. For Timberlands' opponents to say such things is misleading, and a fair public debate should ensure that such statements are challenged, and the other view is put. In the past the anti-environmental groups have tended to dominate the news media, and they still do. But this would be one of the first times that they have come up against a counter-argument that provides a balanced perspective on the environment. Normally they have had as opponents those that advocate continued use without ecological protection, an opposing extreme that lacks public support. In the past, the environmentalists' superior PR has usually won the day.

However, now they face a viable counter-message of use and protection, with credible scientific and international recognition, and widespread public support. Their task of simplifying the message to an either use or protection simplicity is not having its usual effect. Far from losing the debate as the book claims, Timberlands was gaining public support for their internationally recognised sustainable management. This was obviously of concern to those with a preservationist agenda.

4.3     MONITORING OF GROUPS (page 31). "To gain advanced warning of the plans of conservation groups, Timberlands organised monitoring.."

FACT: Timberlands did monitor what Timberlands opponents were saying. Part of responding to misinformation is identifying where and when it occurs (see 3.3). The book uses loaded words like "infiltrate", "devious", "intrusive" and "mole" for actions that simply provide information.

Timberlands opponents do the same, but apparently Timberlands has "moles" and the anti-Timberland organisations have "sources".

4.3.1     Shandwick contact paid to attend Victoria University Environmental Group meetings (page 32)

A Shandwick executive's son offered to attend these meetings and forward information. On one occasion there was discussion of firing flares at the helicopter, which subsequently occurred. The book states that he was paid $50 an hour, but Timberlands never made any payments for such activities and nor did it offer any.

4.3.2     Barry Nicolle (page 33). "Another mole, Barry Nicolle, later declared that he had acted on his own initiative; however, he had still reported throughout to Timberlands for which he was a contractor. "

FACT: Barry Nicole has consistently acted on his own behalf. He helped found Coast Action Network without any financial support from Timberlands, though he did obtain some from the West Coast councils. He went to NFA meetings on his own volition and volunteered information to Timberlands. Timberlands certainly didn't turn it down. His public comments about NFA and others manipulating facts to their own ends were his alone.

Mr Nicolle is not a staff member of Timberlands. He is contracted to undertake possum control in South Westland. It is notable perhaps that the authors emphasise that he is a contractor employed by Timberlands, but not the nature of his work.

4.3.3     Timberlands arranged video-taping (page 35, 36)

FACT:Timberlands often receive information from supporters who attend meetings. In the incidence referred to in the book Shelley Grelle attended a meeting of her own volition, and subsequently advised Timberlands of the opposing views. She videotaped the meeting without any request from Timberlands, and Timberlands did not even view the tape.


FACT: Contractors were becoming increasingly frustrated by delays caused by protest action. The incident to which the book refers involves a decision by contractors to invoice NFA for the additional costs, and Timberlands was encouraged to do this as well. To date this account has not been paid, and is no longer being pursued.


4.5.1     Forest and Bird Society accounts (top page 49). "Timberlands employed Shandwick to investigate the society's finances".

FACT: The choice of words by the author is interesting. It suggests some covert operation worthy of a spy novel. The truth is more bland. Timberlands asked Shandwick to get copies of the Forest and Bird Society's publicly available annual reports which give reference to membership and finances. The company was interested in their membership trends (downwards) and their financial strength. It is known that not all Forest And Bird members are supportive of the anti-forestry campaign run by their society. There are members who are supportive of Timberlands and who believe that concepts of sustainable management involving use and protection are necessary for a sustainable future.

It is a credible line that environmental organisations in need of finance and suffering membership declines are not as averse to setting aside the environmental facts and reverting to conflict generation and polemics to encourage public sponsorship.

Their annual reports are relevant information to Timberlands, as apparently are Timberlands' annual reports to Native Forest Action and Forest & Bird who request and are provided with copies, presumably for their own analysis. Unlike the anti-Timberlands groups, Timberlands did not use any information from Forest & Bird's annual reports in any media release.

4.5.2     BIFS Report on Forest and Bird (page 50)

FACT: The BIFS report has nothing to do with the actions of Timberlands. The BIFS report was a leaked document from a member of the fishing industry, yet its reference in the book, and inclusion as an appendix without reference to the source, can easily be read as having the direct involvement of Timberlands. Timberlands had nothing to do with this action.

The inference becomes even more explicit when the authors state "The paper ... appears to have been written for a timber company, which was at that time milling Timberlands' rimu trees ..." No more evidence is provided than that, and no company is identified, but readers will assume guilt all the same.

4.5.3    Body Shop/Anita Roddick (pages 50-51). "The plan, devised and executed by Shandwick staff, was to find embarrassing information about the Body Shop's environmental record, and use this to put pressure on the company to stop supporting the anti-native forest logging campaign"

FACT: Body Shop was funding a campaign against Timberlands, and it was certainly providing high profile support while presenting itself as a paragon of sustainable virtue. One of their initiatives was to run a nationwide newspaper advertising campaign involving large advertisements in every New Zealand daily, with their own logo proudly displayed, claiming falsely that Timberlands were destroying 260,000 trees each year. The number grossly misrepresents the reality. The inference was of forest destruction and environmental vandalism.

In line with the strategy to respond to all misinformation this was investigated with an objective to rebutting their arguments. Timberlands asked Shandwick to find out what the Body Shop was up to. Shandwick knew more than Timberlands expected, including their use of rimu from Timberlands' own forests. Shandwick wrote a press release about it, and Timberlands is relaxed about that fact. Any release was unlikely to undo the damage done to Timberlands' image by the misinformation and blatant untruths promoted by the Body Shop.

Timberlands' actions are considerably less dishonourable than those of a company who uses a populist myth (i.e. cutting down trees means forest destruction) to gain profile and financial reward at the expense of a sustainable operation within another organisation.

The reference to the book of Shandwick supplying Paula de Roeper with Body Shop material (page 53) was a briefing about the Body Shop activities to Ms de Roeper, who was a new appointee.


5.1     REMOVAL OF PLATFORM BY HELICOPTER 16 APRIL 1997 (pages 56 – 58)

FACT: The presence of the platforms and their resident protesters was compromising the ability of Timberlands to undertake its activities. They represented a safety risk to both the themselves and to Timberlands' employees unable to account for unsupervised people being in the forest while helicopter harvesting operations were underway. Requests and demands to leave, and trespass notices, had previously had no effect.

Knowing the protesters' history of using the legal system to their own ends, and their lack of scruples in ruining the occupations and livelihoods of Timberlands' employees, it was arranged to have Occupational Safety and Health inspectors present, as well as the police. Their attendance was to ensure that the eviction operations were above board, and to prevent exactly the type of frivolous accusations that consequently occurred.

In the morning a party of police, Timberlands' staff and an OSH representative moved through the forest on the ground to remove protesters to a safe distance from the platforms. The police and OSH can corroborate these actions. The helicopter was then brought in to remove the platforms, with the police containing the protestors a safe distance from the helicopter.

The care taken by Timberlands to ensure that all procedures of the platform removal were carried out with independent witnesses and in accordance with the law – in order to prevent just such accusations as subsequently occurred – justified its suspicions. The company was acutely aware of the responsibility they had to safeguard the livelihood of employees who might suffer from false and vindictive claims, especially the helicopter pilots.

The independence of the Police and the CAA was questioned by the authors. The inference is that they were also duped by Timberlands.


FACT: The women referred to in the book as screaming had broken away from the group of protestors, obviously intent on getting to the platforms to prevent the helicopters removing them. The presence of a very large helicopter above you is undoubtedly frightening to those that are not used to it. So is the presence of a police dog chasing after you. She was prevented from reaching the platform.

These facts are conveniently omitted from the authors' accounts of the incident. Including this information would have presented Timberlands and all associated with it in a better light, and presented the actions of the protestors in a poorer light.


FACT: Timberlands made no request to Shandwick to contact the CAA. That their staff members had personal relationships with CAA staff was unknown to Timberlands until the contact was mentioned to them. It would have made no difference to the outcome of the complaint by the protestors, though the inference of a conspiracy is made by the authors.

The Civil Aviation Authority concluded that no offense had been committed under civil aviation regulations. A report was prepared by Timberlands for the Prime Minister which they stand behind.


FACT: Timberlands denied the details of the event as presented by Salient, though they have never denied the destruction of the platform itself. The book distorts Dave Hilliard's denial to Salient as though Timberlands was denying the whole context of events. Again, not all information is presented to the readers by the authors


FACT: The protesters claimed they fired flares out of concern for their safety with the "helicopter operating too close to where he was hiding" (page 62). The questions has to be asked - why didn't the protesters simply move away if the helicopter was operating too close to their position?, and why only fire the flare after the helicopter had "moved about half a kilometer away" when no more danger can be claimed?

Nothing was preventing them from doing so, and the helicopter was not aware of their presence. The firing of the flare was either an act of panic and stupidity, or it was fired by design to cause an effect, and a potentially life-threatening effect at that with a helicopter flying low to the ground. The circumstantial evidence of events is that it was by design, though the police chose not to prosecute.

Timberlands was informed by its "mole/source" who attended a Victoria University Environmental Group meeting that firing of flares was considered as a deliberate act. This was some months prior to the flare firing event.


FACT: Secret and Lies states "the environmental groups involved in the logging issue knew they were not responsible for the explosive." They infer that it was a plant to discredit the environmental movement, and that if it had been one of their group, they would have heard about it.

Timberlands had no involvement in any such action, and left the matter to the police. Naturally, there were eco-terrorist suspicions. It would be expected that some rumours would have circulated should a 'plant' to discredit the anti-Timberlands activists have been involved. No such rumours have come to the surface.



FACT: The school protest was a very effective PR exercise for the anti-Timberlands environmentalists. The pupils had obviously been influenced by the misinformation campaigns. The schools were written to, to request that they seek to ensure the children learn both sides of the story. No legal threats were sent to the schools.


FACT: Cath Wallace's act was to publicly discredit Timberlands with the inference that Timberlands destroys old growth forests, perpetuating the simplistic line that you cannot have a protected forest ecosystem as well as furniture. This is an extremely damaging message, both to Timberlands and to any national attempts to promote a sustainable future. It is a false message.

Hager and Burton make the allegation that Timberlands' response to these unbalanced public actions against the company and its sustainable management operations is part of a "deliberate overall strategy" to "wear down Timberlands' opponents, discourage others from joining a broadly-based coalition against native logging and, where it is considered appropriate, directly attack the critics" (page78). It is not. The strategy followed by Timberlands is to respond to misinformation and some outright lies about the company's operations. It is to set the record straight, and to remind their opponents that they have a responsibility to also deal in facts.

Without Timberlands' opposition to these false claims, the public would receive a perspective on Timberlands' operations that amounts to a lie. This includes the graffiti in Wellington. Timberlands' opponents have either insufficient understanding of the facts to realise this, or they are quite comfortable that the public should believe such a lie. They seem prepared to go to any extent to perpetrate a myth.



FACT: Murray Efford's model analysis is seriously flawed. On the basis of his initial assumptions an untouched forest would decline as trees naturally died. No allowance was made for compensatory growth that occurs in any event of a canopy removal. He also assumed that any harvest would be additional to the natural mortality that occurs in a forest, thereby modeling a greater forest mortality than actually occurs. His accusations of bias were exaggerated and the updated Timberlands' model resolves this issue.

Efford had to admit this and subsequently revised his model. This revision is not mentioned in Secrets and Lies. This second analysis is also flawed and a number of Landcare forest ecologists have come out and dissociated themselves from the analysis. Some of Landcare's forest ecologists have written publicly, at risk to themselves, in support of Timberlands' ecosystem-based management principles.

The Forest and Bird Society launch of Murray Efford's findings also chose not to mention the context of the Timberlands' models in its overall ecosystem-based management processes, which are outlined in the Beech Management Plans. No account was made of adaptive management, whereby all management is a learning operation and continual data collection is used to feed back into the decision-making loop to refine decisions.

7.3 TWC PREDATOR CONTROL PLANS (page 109) - Claim that Timberlands do not do much predator control and will not do it in future.

FACT: Timberlands currently spends $62,000 on predator control and $50,000 on predator control research each year for a total estate of 181,000 hectares. This level of funding is before the beech management proposals are operational, at which point it will increase substantially to encompass a wider area.

While it is acknowledged that DOC do an excellent job in predator control with their limited budget, the books claim that DOC spend more per area (DOC has 1.8 million hectares on the West Coast) than Timberlands amounts to an abuse of statistics.

Timberlands' efforts are considerably more targeted as well, while DOC mainly practice broadcast poisoning.

These concessions are not made in the book, and all research and pest control is presented as "sponsorship" to "buy" supporters such as Henrik Moller and Barry Nicolle.


GENERAL RESPONSE: The implication in this chapter is that when journalists returned from the Coast they had been "brainwashed" by Timberlands. This being the case, any story that presents a view that supports Timberlands is implied to be "bad journalism". That is not a very credible line, especially as so many journalists would be urban-based and naturally suspicious of "native logging". The fact that Timberlands has demonstrated to at least some journalists the principles of ecosystem-based management should have given the authors pause for thought – at the very least to evaluate the management principles espoused. However, they make no attempt to analyse Timberlands' intentions, preferring instead to present all Timberlands sustainable management operations as "PR".


The area the NZ Geographic journalist referred to as an "elephants graveyard" is one frequently shown to visitors by Native Forest Action. It is not even within the beech forests, being rather an isolated incident in the Charleston podocarp forest. This forest is part of the overcut negotiated under the West Coast Forest Accord. It is not sustainable forestry, and Timberlands has never described it as such. Nor is it related to the proposed beech management plans that propose an ecosystem-based management. The authors omit these details, implying instead that such events represent the future Timberlands' operations in practice.

The particular reason why the scene is not aesthetically pleasing is that a harvesting operation in a reasonably dense podocarp stand resulted in a neighbouring tree also falling. Both trees then slid down a slope and ending in a heap at the bottom. Due to the safety issues, they were not recovered. It represents one incident in 1000. These details are also omitted by the authors.


GENERAL RESPONSE: The whole tenor of these two chapters is to invalidate the support of Timberlands by a range of individuals whose environmental credentials are sound. There is no attempt to analyse their arguments for why they are supportive. Instead the book focuses on either a portrayal of these supporters as dupes of the company who have brainwashed them, or ad hominem attacks to try to discredit them as having personal agendas or who are anti-environmental. Many have been insulted by what they see as attempts to discredit their independence and professionalism.

No arguments put forward by these supporters are analysed by the book in their own right. Instead the authors highlight these supporters' often obscure and unrelated Timberlands' connections.

There are many reasons why these people support Timberlands' operations. Most importantly they understand the environmental implications of Timberlands' operations, and they have a more sophisticated view of what a sustainable future must entail.

They do not subscribe to the ecologically illiterate view that harvesting trees will result in forest death or decline.

They believe that any sustainable future must involve the indisputable truth that humans use resources, and that timber is a more preferable resource to use than many other substitutes that are non-renewable, such as oil or metals.

They argue strongly that preservation or "save the tree" simplicity will not provide a sustainable solution. Many argue that it will create the reverse; a perpetuation and even acceleration of the environmental problem by encouraging environmental degradation in ever smaller commercial areas.

Instead of continued preservation, they believe the ideals of sustainable management must be extended across as wide a range of resource management as possible – whether in forests, on farms or in marine environments. With that belief comes a commitment to the encouragement of any attempts at ecosystem-based management as a major step forward in sustainable management.

They know that that is what Timberlands' management represents, which is why they are supportive.

None of these arguments is even discussed within Secrets and Lies.

Those supporters of sustainable management who have been criticised by this book include recognised ecologists and environmentalists such as David Norton, Henrik Moller, Helen Hughes, Morgan Williams, Guy Salmon, John Craig and organisations such as WWF and Maruia Society. There are many more with similar credentials, including members from within the larger environmental groups whose chief executives are so opposed.

The authors discredit these professionals by referring to the research funding in such areas as predator control as "PR sponsorship".

The book also fails to point out the courage that is required by these people to speak out publicly in support when public and private vitriol is all too common a response. Hate mail and what could only be called "witchhunts" over the internet have been tactical features of the anti-Timberlands campaigners. That necessary courage should once again give pause to think – enough at least to consider analysing these supporters' words and reasons, instead of emphasising their obscure Timberlands' connections, and dismissing every argument as PR.


FACT: Whether companies approached the government about supply of native timber concerns was entirely their affair. Much of what Hager and Burton refer to as Timberlands encouraging lobbying through sending "PR material" involved standard marketing material about the timber the company supplies, and its uses.

Of course the politics of the native timber market was inevitably discussed at times, and these supporters took their own initiatives to provide information to Timberlands. The book seems to suggest any conversations between suppliers and customers about the political situation with Timberlands' plans up for government approval, or any voluntary supply of information, is improper.

9.2     THE RELATIVE SIZE OF MARUIA AND WWF (pages 131 – 132)

FACT: The assumption put forward is that the greater numbers in environmental groups such as Forest and Bird equates with a greater understanding of the issue. It does not. Those organisations with the best PR and the simplest message often gain the greatest membership. They also specialise in polemics and conflict, where there are the greatest rewards in terms of media coverage and resulting membership.

It is far more difficult, and far less financially rewarding, for those groups who put forward a more moderate and sophisticated message – one that is actually attempting a realisable solution. The media are not so interested in a perspective that takes more than a 10-second soundbite.

The support of WWF and the Maruia Society is no less valid because they do not treat every environmental issue as a recruitment or sponsorship drive. If anything, it makes it more so because it is obvious what is at stake financially by taking a less controversial and more sophisticated stance. Conflict can be quite lucrative to environmental groups. The authors of Secrets and Lies were quite aware of this when they decided to give $10 dollars of each book sale to Native Forest Action.

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and Maruia Society both represent the more mainstream international views on environmentalism. They do not have the attitude of the mainstream New Zealand groups who believe in a preservationist future. This perspective is considered extreme overseas, and ultimately unworkable.


FACT: The book presents any conservation practice by Timberlands as a cynical PR exercise, often using references to communication strategies that are not in context. Ecosystem-based management requires research, data collection and monitoring, as well as various programmes to maintain and improve the ecological health of the forest. Timberlands has an acknowledged reputation for furthering such research, which is vital to managing forests on ecosystem lines. Ecosystem management also involves the closer inclusion of communities in the forest and the decision making processes.

The communications between Timberlands and such organisations and individuals as DOC, researchers and the community outlined in Chapters 7 and 8 of Secrets and Lies are quite integral to the ecosystem-based management concepts the company is adopting, not their public relations strategy. The authors, either through ignorance or design, omit these points.


FACT: The portrayal by Hager and Burton is that the Guardians initiative was an attempt to "greenwash" the operations of Timberlands. It was not. That is why independent people were brought into the organisation of the initiative. The book attempts to discredit their independence.

Independent monitoring is important in any ecosystem-based management initiative, and Timberlands has entirely accepted that. What it will not accept is anything other than objective assessment of the facts by such a group. It needs scientific credibility. Unfortunately there are certain members of the more extreme environmental organisations that make no attempt at analysing the facts. Timberlands makes no bones about not approving of such politically-motivated people on any such review panel.

Such politically-motivated people would oppose the use of timber from these indigenous forest whether it was environmentally benign or even environmentally beneficial. They do not appear to be interested in assessing facts.

To suggest, as the authors do, that people of the caliber of Henrik Moller, David Norton, John Craig, Guy Salmon and Morgan Williams are somehow "lap dogs" (page 154 top), and Timberlands their "master", lacks a certain credibility.

The authors of this book do not give any of Timberlands' supporters the credit for being able to make up their own minds.



FACT: Timberlands had nothing to do with the establishment and financing of Coast Action Network. Coast Action Network is not a "corporate front group" as the book accuses. The book has its facts wrong.

Coast Action Network was independently established by West Coast individuals, including some Timberlands' contractors, who were naturally concerned for their future, especially in the light of misinformation by some environmentalists. Their actions included organising their own campaign, talking with politicians, and letter writing independent of Timberlands, and on occasion offers of help to Timberlands.

This all fits in with their missions to ensure "sustainable management and continued access to all West Coast resources". They are not a single issue group. They are currently actively involved in campaigning to keep the IRD office in Greymouth.


FACT: The fax from Shandwick (page 161) is assumed by Hager and Burton to provide evidence of Shandwick's involvement in Coast Action Network. It does not. The letter referred to was in response to a suggestion that some Timberlands' forests be preserved as a memorial to Princess Diana in association with yet more misinformation

The "Action group" to which the fax refers is not CAN. It is another group set up independently by the West Coast local authorities, who approached Timberlands seeking advice on how the matter of the Princess Diana story could be addressed (see Shandwick's Letter to the Editor – Independent 22 Sept 99 as support). All concerned recognised that it was inappropriate for an SOE to be seen to be opposing a proposal to commemorate the Princess. That is the context of the reference "Better this salvo comes from them than Timberlands." As far as Timberlands' staff can tell, the letter was never published.

The books' references to Shandwick's writing letters for CAN are false.


FACT: Cotrina Reynolds of CAN volunteered to write a response to an article in the NZ Herald which was provided to her by Timberlands. Shandwick was writing a letter for Timberlands in response, and when they were told that Cotrina Reynolds was intended to write, they offered their information to her as assistance. Cotrina wrote her own letter. She did not use a Shandwick letter.

These two letters above, as well as the reference to investigating the idea of a forest trust in a set of minutes, are the only connections that lead the authors to the conclusion that Shandwick was actively writing letters for Coast Action Network. One wasn't even meant for CAN, and the other was a one-off provision of a letter as background for a CAN member, which Shandwick had previously written for Timberlands,. This does not represent a "campaign".


FACT: CAN was an independent group outside Timberlands. The fact that people organised themselves to write letters to the editor in favour of Timberlands was not at he behest of Timberlands. It was a natural counter in any democracy where Timberlands' opponents were organising letter writing campaigns in their own right, often either ill-informed, or deliberately promoting misinformation.

From Secrets and Lies comes the implication that NFA's and Forest & Birds' own letter writing campaign is permissible because it perpetrates their message, but is "collusion", "media control" and "Timberlands-orchestrated" if it happens to be the response of a local community and New Zealand-wide support that opposes their own views.

Timberlands' staff wrote their own letters in opposition to the misinformation presented by NFA and others. This is not denied by Timberlands. Whether they chose to acknowledge their links to Timberlands was up to them, as it was no doubt the choice of those writing misinformation whether they exposed their membership of other groups such as NFA.

10.5     COAST ACTION NETWORK ACTIVITIES (pages 163 - 166)

FACT: CAN is an organisation independent of Timberlands with a mission statement which reads "Our aim is to achieve a revival of industry, to secure the future economy of the West Coast, through sustainable management and continued access to West Coast resources." Their activities do not just focus on forests. What their members choose to do to counter threats to their sustainable livelihoods is entirely their own decision.

Their encouragement of submission writing was, likewise, independent of Timberlands.


FACT: Sponsorship is a usual corporate activity, and is particularly important where a company is working within a small community such as the West Coast, where there are not many other sponsorship sources available. In almost all cases Timberlands has been the ones approached for support.

As in all sponsorship cases, it is a win-win situation for both parties. The company is committed to public support which recognises the company as progressive, especially in relation to environmental performance. This recognition has a major positive effect on corporate morale and commitment. No one is claiming that Timberlands is acting out of pure altruism, but nor is Hager's allegation that it is all cynically motivated just to engender political support a fair representation.

Some of the specific sponsorship cases claimed within the book are incorrect. In many cases it is obvious that the authors have speculated without being concerned with complete accuracy. In one case a supposed recipient of Timberlands' sponsorship, and known environmentalist Jacquie Grant, is quoted as stating favourable things about Dave Hilliard, and Timberlands as a company. The obvious inference is that the statements were "bought" through Timberlands' financial support. This is once again an insult to supporters who are all presented by Hager as either dupes or anti-environmentalists. Mr Hager has retracted his allegations.

Timberlands did encourage people to put in submissions, and particularly wanted to hear what local people thought of Timberlands' plans. Establishing community links and responding to community attitudes is a major part of international ecosystem-based management initiatives, and is a corresponding requirement under the Forestry Stewardship Council international sustainable management certification requirements, which Timberlands is pursuing.

10.7     TIMBERLANDS' SUPPORT OF SCHOOLS (pages 168 - 169)

FACT: The principals circulated material supplied to them by CAN. Contrary to the assertions and inferences that can be drawn from the book, Timberlands had nothing to do with this initiative.

10.8     SHANDWICK - TIMBERLANDS' DISCUSSIONS ON SPONSORSHIP AND GAINING COMMUNITY SUPPORT (pages 173 - 174). Reference to items in minutes on such items as stock letters, thank you TWC letters etc.

FACT: Timberlands often discuss ideas with Shandwick which frequently do not get acted upon. In this specific case these items did not come to fruition. The difference between mooted idea and action is a chasm, but the book does not make the distinction.

10.9     ADVERTISING BY TIMBERLANDS (pages 175 - 177)

FACT: It is quite appropriate where, frankly, a revolutionary resource management concept is being pursued, that the company involved promotes that management, and that includes advertising. Without such promotion how are people to learn what ecosystem-based forest management systems entail?

The need for promotion is even more obvious when opponents are running a counter-campaign that is fraught with misinformation, the most damaging of which is a perpetration of the line that Timberlands is pursuing pre-1980 style management, with all the rhetoric of clearfelling and forest destruction that accompanies it. The book implies that Timberlands' opponents' promotion is permitted, however far from the truth it wanders, whereas Timberlands should not be permitted a voice.

Some of the advertisements mentioned in Secrets and Lies had nothing to do with Timberlands' promotion at all. They were arranged by supportive individuals, some members of CAN. The suggestion by the authors, once again, is that these people are not capable of making up their own minds.

The advertisement on page 196 was a radio station initiative, independent of Timberlands, which was stopped following abuse at the station by opponents of the message. The implication that it was inspired by Timberlands is incorrent.



FACT: The assumption throughout this chapter is that Coast Action Network (CAN) is a mouth piece and front group for Timberlands. This leap of faith seemed based on one misunderstood fax from Shandwick, one item in a set of minutes regarding a forestry trust, and one letter written by CAN to the Herald. Other of their allegations have been independently shown to lack substance.

Again, CAN WAS NOT FORMED, AND IS NOT FINANCIALLY SUPPORTED BY TIMBERLANDS. CAN doesn't even have an indigenous forestry focus, being interested in all issues relating to resource use on the Coast. Timberlands has provided them with information when they have requested it in the past, including mailing lists. Their actions to encourage Labour leader Helen Clark to visit the Coast in order to better understand the issues was without Timberlands' involvement, though the company agreed with their essential position.

Hager and Burton seem unable to admit that where any non-Timberlands spokesperson agrees with Timberlands it DOES NOT mean that they are therefore dupes or "lap dogs" of the company. People are not given credit for being able to make up their own mind, and are personally attacked by these authors.

In relation to this point the book once again sees fit to undermine the credibility of such experts as scientist Ian James, who happen to support Timberlands (page 185). His arguments and evidence are not discussed, only his Timberlands' connection.

The book implies that television producer Julie Christie is not credible because "she was the sister of CAN front person Therese Gibbens" (page 187). This is guilt-by-association, a common propaganda tactic. Individuals arguments are ignored in favour of personal attacks. The book also implies that she was financially supported in her flight to Auckland, presumably by Timberlands, which is another false claim.

The authors' attempts at the end of the chapter (page 197) to temper their criticisms of individuals lack credibility. It reads as an afterthought after rereading their previous writing and realises that it is over the top. It still amounts to saying that honest people have been fooled into believing Timberlands.

11.2     INVEST IN THE WEST EXPO (page 186). Supposed Timberlands' involvement and intention to be present. Inferred that pulled out after news publicity.

Response: Paula de Roeper had a discussion with Damien O'Connor, who requested Timberlands' involvement. Timberlands chose not to have any involvement what-so-ever.



FACT: It is important to get some definition of what "lobbying" means to various parties. It can mean something as coercive as various forms of what amounts to bribery, or as innocuous as ensuring that parties have access to the full range of facts, and are not relying on a one-sided supply of information. That process can be passive, with information only supplied on request, or more active, with information volunteered where obvious misinformation has been involved.

That latter sense of lobbying (of providing information) is how democracy works, with free access to information and analysis vital in a democracy to ensure that propaganda doesn't win over the arguments. Everyone who writes a letter to the editor is a lobbyist of that latter sense of providing their own point of view.

Timberlands has openly and repeatedly admitted that they provide information, often on request, and often when misinformation from anti-Timberlands opponents has attempted to undermine an objective consideration of the facts. That latter response requires that Timberlands has knowledge about misinformation from the anti-Timberlands "lobbyists". Shandwick had that role in the absence of any Timberlands' presence in Wellington – a handicap Timberlands' opponents do not have.


Any activities by Timberlands that could be called "lobbying" relates only to information gathering and provision, often in the face of concerted misinformation. The authors of Secrets and Lies do not make the distinction clear – all Timberlands' "lobbying" is implied to involve coercion, while encouraging the inference that the anti-Timberlands groups have no influence themselves.

12.2     ACTIONS OF PUBLIC SERVANTS IN RELATION TO TIMBERLANDS (implies collusion and unethical behaviour)

FACT: This chapter makes personal attacks on the credibility of particular public servants associated with Timberlands as a SOE – through CCMAU – and with the submission process and analysis by MAF's consultant (who is very widely respected for his objectivity).

There is no substantive basis for any of these criticisms. Their attacks seem based on the idea that any finding that doesn't come out in favour of the their perspective must, by definition, be perpetrated by individuals who are unscrupulous.



FACT: This chapter begins with an accusation against Timberlands (that it has followed a cynical, manipulative, unscrupulous and antidemocratic campaign) which is entirely without foundation. The rest of the chapter then returns to the usual ad hominem strategy by attacking individuals, including high-ranking politicians, while ignoring the arguments put forward in favour of sustainable forestry.

Far from being Timberlands that has followed a "cynical, manipulative, unscrupulous and antidemocratic campaign" the accusation sits very readily with this book and its authors' tactics. These tactics have included a cynical use of language to present the supporters of Timberlands' ecosystem-based forestry management (whether locals or specialists), and even such people as public servants who objectively analyse both sides of the argument, as either traitors, stooges, well-meaning fools or anti-environmentalists. Timberlands is presented as having no interest in the environment, with any operational undertakings to that end presented merely as more PR. The authors make no attempt to analyse the actual environmental issues relating to sustainable land management, ignoring all such analysis by reducing everything to PR. It is implied as a given that Timberlands are intent on destruction.

While Timberlands is portrayed as presenting PR, this book and the anti-Timberlands campaigners are presented as representatives of truth and objectivity. The skillful propaganda techniques within this book belie such an implicit claim. One common method is to apply guilt-by-association, by portraying Timberlands as just another company trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public and present their "destructive" practices as somehow environmentally beneficial. So the guilt of pesticide plants and suchlike are spoken of in the same breath as Timberlands.

The book is essentially an exercise along the lines of the phrase "when did you stop beating your wife". The authors know full well how difficult it is for any individual or company accused in such a way to clear their name. The slur of the "wife beater" always remains. From reading the book, it seems that the authors would be happy if that is achieved, because truth does not appear to be their goal. Their goal appears to be the public vilification of Timberlands and its supporters, whatever the tactics. Any rebuttals to specific points will never fully convince those believers in Timberlands' pre-trial "guilt" that is portrayed in this book. The book makes no attempt at balance. That is extremely antidemocratic.

Secrets and Lies manipulates the truth, and it is casual about claiming as fact what are untruths. It is cynical of any of Timberlands' actions, not even bothering to analyse their sustainable management credentials. It is cynical of the credibility and motivations of Timberlands' supporters. It is unscrupulous when it comes to the subtle and not so subtle ways they present their arguments or source their information. Their character assassinations are not exactly paragons of democratic action.

This book has to be one of the most one-sided, cynical, trial-by-journalism documents released in New Zealand in the last decade.

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