Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 16 October 2014

Port projects will boost economy

The Far North economy will soon receive a much-needed boost from two major infrastructure projects the Council's commercial company Far North Holdings Ltd (FNHL) is developing in the Bay of Islands.

At Opua, FNHL plans to add 173 berths to the 250-berth marina to cater for the hundreds of international cruising vessels that use Opua as their port of entry to New Zealand each year. There has been demand for extra berths at the marina since it was built 15 years ago, so I am delighted that FNHL has obtained resource consents for this long-awaited project to proceed. The maritime estate at Opua has already fostered the development of 63 commercial businesses that employ about 250 people. An economic analyst estimates that extending the marina will help to create another 70 full-time jobs at Opua and a further 150 in the wider district. It also forecasts economic activity worth $23 million a year after the five-year establishment period, so this is a project we can all get excited about, particularly as it is self-funding and the $13 million capital costs won't require a call on rates. While I must temper my enthusiasm with the knowledge that the consents may be appealed, I am confident that our consent authorities have addressed reasonable concerns about the project by attaching conditions to the consents.

Another project which represents a major investment in infrastructure that is vital to the district's tourism industry and economy involves an upgrade of terminal and aircraft facilities at Bay of Islands Airport in Kerikeri. FNHL and Air New Zealand are replacing and extending the apron and taxiway at the airport to cater for the 50-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 aircraft that Air New Zealand will operate on all flights in and out of the airport from February 2015. Replacing the 19-seat Beechcraft 1900D aircraft with the larger Q300 will increase annual capacity on flights between Kerikeri and Auckland to 12,000 seats, so Far North Holdings is also extending and upgrading the departure and arrival halls. Work on this project was due to get underway this week .

I want to congratulate FNHL Chairman Ross Blackman and Chief Executive Andy Nock for masterminding these projects which represent big steps forward for the Far North and Northland.


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