Regional | Ruapehu Alpine Lifts

Fifth cash injection keeps Ruapehu Alpine Lifts in business

Shane Jones says this is the last time the government will bail out the ski operator.

The government has rubberstamped another cash injection to allow Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) to continue operating for the 2024 ski season. The $7.35 million dollar support package is the fourth the company has received

But Regional Development Minister Shane Jones says this is RAL’s final opportunity to find a commercially viable solution for Whakapapa.

“This is last-chance saloon. This funding will not be repeated. The cabinet is adamant there is no more money to sustain and work with the receiver in terms of these snow-based businesses,” he says.

He says there are 600 to 800 jobs on the line and millions of dollars that could be brought into the region but sternly states there is no more money on its way. ”I say to the council, I say to the tangata whenua, I say to the community you have one year. If it does not work out, then the government will not be putting one brass razoo into this business again.”

Other stakeholders, including Iwi who are eager to take over a side of the mountain, have felt left out in previous negotiations but Jones says there’s an element of realism that needs to be acknowledged.

“My message to Maoridom may be harsh but I’m the Māori who’s gone to find the money to sustain these businesses. If Maori leadership in and around the maunga can’t be pragmatic, won’t make trade offs, then look at yourselves. Don’t look at me because I’ll pass you by.”

“Stop fairytales,” he continues. “Stop elevating elements that will not help you make money. If you don’t want to make that trade-off, then you’ve only got yourselves to blame.”

Ruapehu Skifield Stakeholders Association has previously proposed operating Whakapapa and Tūroa together as a not-for-profit, including iwi and crowdsourcing funds.

Good money after bad

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the government’s intervention with campaigns manage, Connor Molloy saying: “This is the fifth time the government has given this company millions of taxpayer money under the illusion that it will magically turn around this failing company. They are quite literally throwing good money after bad, after bad, after bad, after bad.”

The union disagrees that jobs will be saved and says hanging the decision on generating tourism revenue misses the point entirely. “The money used for this handout has been taxed away from other productive sectors of the economy, destroying jobs there, and moving it to less a productive area.

“Taxpayers struggling with the cost of living should not be forced to dig into their pockets to ensure that people wealthier than them are able to go skiing at their first preference location.”

Previous government interventions

$7 million - October 2023

$5 million - June 2023

$6 million - December 2022

$2 million - November 2022