Regional | Whangarei

Proposed site for new Whangārei Airport back up for discussion with hapū

They’re concerned about possible impacts on the environment, and if new fast-track laws will be used.

Hapū are concerned the new build may have significant impacts on the environment.

Local hapū came face-to-face with Te Kārearea, the strategic committee made up of hapū and Whangārei District Council this week.

Ruatangata, a settlement northwest of Whangārei has been the preferred site for the new Whangārei Airport, but local kaumātua Taki says no adequate consultation has taken place in over two years.

Hapū are concerned the new build may have significant impacts on the environment, saying there are other ways the project can be done that won’t be as harmful. It is demanding more partnership.

Te Kārearea member Nicki Wakefield says the impacts of land loss is still being felt.

“We’re living on less than 2% ancestral lands left in hapu hands. We’ve got roads cutting through our kāinga we’ve got cars zooming past at 100km per hour, we’ve got airports being built to fly over our kāinga. The council doesn’t get it” she said.

Whangārei District mayor Vince Cocurullo neither confirmed nor denied that the proposal for the Whangārei Airport would be put forward under the new fast-track legislation.

“The hapū concerns are the community concerns. To me, they’ve raised concerns they’re personally dealing with, and they would like council to deal with. Some of them council can address, some of them council can’t because they’re part of the process”.

“We’ve got five years to do something in Whangārei. We have an airport at the present moment which is just over one kilometre long. We have a grandfather clause on it at the moment. If Air New Zealand gets to the point and it decides it no longer will fly to Whangārei, that means Whangārei loses out,” he said.

The hapū is also concerned at the possibility of the government’s fast-track law being used in this instance but they remain committed to ensuring they’re included in the plans.

“E hanga horo rawa ka tino mahue te hapu ki muri. heoi ano rā kia kakama te hapū i roto i tēnā tirotirohanga a te kāwanatanga he aha tēnei mea kia horo rawa”

“The process will be too fast and hapū will get left behind but the hapū needs to get up on the play to ensure we can critique the government’s fast-track process, local kaumātua Taki Kingi said.