30 October 2020

Airport Hui


Iwi groups and property owners will sit down together to discuss the future of Kāpiti Coast Airport. The airport land is part of Te Āti Awa’s ancestral lands, and also has significance for other iwi and hapū. Kāpiti Coast District Council on Thursday was set to vote on a plan to ask central government to buy the airport land and operate it in partnership with iwi. Before the meeting could formally begin, Iwi and Hapū members asked the council to delay a vote until after a meeting on November 11 with the Templeton Group, which owns the land as part of NZPropCo. Kāpiti Coast Mayor K Gurunathan is backing a small group of whānau from Ngāti Puketapu hapū asking the Crown to return their ancestral land which has been developed into the Kāpiti Airport. The future of the airport has been up in the air since August, when the owners warned it was facing “significant economic viability issues” and was considering rezoning some land for commercial development. Puketapu Hapū ki Paraparaumu spokesperson George Jenkins said a council vote before the meeting could have “pre-empted a negative reaction”. “We will be entering the meeting with the goal of friendship, the discussions will follow from there,” he said. The group's goal is to repatriate some, if not all, of their ancestral land. He said he would welcome a partnership with Templeton group which would allow the airport to keep operating with the support of Iwi. “This could be something grand, something the community can be proud of,” he said. “This is not just an opportunity to be on the right side of history, but an opportunity to make history right.” The land was compulsorily acquired in 1939 under the Public Works Act and used to build a military aerodrome for World War II. After the war, the aerodrome became Paraparaumu Airport – the busiest civilian airport in New Zealand between 1947 and 1959. The Government sold the airport to private owners in 1995, despite a recommendation that the land should be offered back to its original owners at market value. Puketapu has an open claim with the Waitangi Tribunal looking for redress for the land that was not offered back to descendants and was instead passed into private ownership. If successful, a cash settlement could be made by the Office of Treaty Settlements that it could use to buy back in. Kāpiti Coast District Council has already passed an official resolution supporting returning the ancestral airport land to its original owners, but had not yet laid out any specifics for how that would be done. A council report found there was significant interest to both the iwi and the wider community in keeping the airport operating. “It is appropriate for the council to advocate to central government that the airport should remain both for its strategic value and to link that value to potential avenues of redress for Treaty settlements,” the report found. The report also recommended officers investigate whether other options could be identified for supporting iwi and community interest in the airport land. Kāpiti Mayor K (Guru) Gurunathan and Porirua Mayor Anita Baker have both previously written to Government Ministers in an attempt to keep the airport running, arguing it is vital as an emergency runway for Wellington Airport. A response from Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the airport was privately owned and the Government was not involved in the airport owner’s commercial decisions.

Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/kapiti/123242736/iwi-and-property-owners-to-meet-over-kpiti-airport-future

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