When John Halkett was considering buying this magazine, he mused that it would be nice to have it properly back in the hands of timber people, as founding publisher Greg King had envisioned it. For John, the timber world was the whole world in microcosm – global trade, environmental issues and the potential to lift living standards through fair dealing were all here. It was, family aside, the most important part of his life. He began his career as a graduate of the School of Forestry at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and finished it the general manager of ATIF, managing director of Forestlands Consulting and co-owner of Timber Media Australasia. Along the way, he wrote seven books, multiple scientific papers and uncountable articles on timber and forestry. When he passed away, he was at his desk, still writing. Below, co-owners Chris and Campbell farewell our friend.

John Halkett, began his life in Palmerston North, New Zealand 19/10/1946, concluded it in Sydney, Australia, 10/10/2023.

Tribute to John Halkett

By Chris Parker and Campbell McInnes

Walking through any cemetery or memorial garden, you will find on the array of headstones, plaques and commemorative stones that a person’s life is invariably recorded with the person’s name, the date they entered the world and the date they departed from it. In between these two dates is a dash, a dash that represents a person’s life. John Halkett had a significant dash that we would like to reflect on here.

  • In speaking with people across our industry who worked with, for, or knew John personally over many years, the common theme in accounts of John was that ‘he was larger than life, had an infectious warmth about him and enjoyed his work’.
  • The saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all’ is a quote from Charles Caleb Colton.  This was practiced by John, as he spoke of everyone in a positive light, despite a small handful probably not deserving it.
  • John loved his partner, daughter, grandchildren, siblings and the rest of his family. He was a true family man, who talked about them often and their importance in his life was obvious.
  • John was passionate about trees, renewables and his beloved magazines which provided a platform for industry members to speak the truth, cut through noise and promote their businesses and sustainable practices.
  • John was a man of his word, and you could count on him and his unwavering support. He just didn’t give up or stop and was working, doing the very things he loved, the day he passed away.
  • John was generous and always put other people first. This was obvious in both his personal life and in business.

From our years with John, working on several projects together and partnering with him in business, we were completely astounded by his knowledge of industry people, their backgrounds, associations, where they had worked. Just as astonishing was his knowledge of properties, particularly in NSW, and the type of trees, tree locations and where they could be found!

After being invited to attend a plantation property up on the North Coast of NSW, we drove up the long dirt trail to the main premises. Before we had even parked the car, John had already identified the various tree species, with a good idea of when they were planted and what needed to be done to safeguard the forestry lots from bushfire and ensure best practice outcomes. That was all determined before we formally started work. After meeting with the landowner and reviewing site plans, lots and historical data, it was clear that John was spot on.

John touched so many people and willingly shared his wealth of knowledge and gave support and assistance with completing Government applications, compliance, understanding complex regulations and representing large groups of businesses making representations to Federal and State Ministers. He was willing to help small and medium enterprises, without hesitation. While most people would be motivated primarily by financial consideration, John was genuine and always ready to help for the right reasons. His generous spirit was evident to all who knew him.

John had a ‘finger in many pies’. His unique knowledge, understanding and extensive experience was second to none, and he was in high demand. For many businesses, John will be extremely difficult to replace. We are all going to miss you, John. You brought a sense of calm, polite gratitude and respect to this world, and to all who knew you, worked with you and relied on you, we are all richer for the experience.

Rest in Peace

Image: John breaking the chocolate ‘wood’ at the recent 2023 Australian Timber Supply Summit – his brainchild to help the sector tackle a major problem – with MGA TMA’s Marie-Claire McKiernan and Malaysian Timber Council CEO Noraihan Abdul Rahman.