Banks Peninsula, New Zealand – February 11, 2024 – New Zealand’s aerospace industry reached new heights on Friday with the inauguration of a revamped 1km runway and hangar on Banks Peninsula. The Tāwhaki National Aerospace Centre, alongside the freshly laid sealed runway at Kaitorete, marks a significant stride towards expanding the country’s aerospace sector and catering to burgeoning international demand.
Already, both domestic and international companies are leveraging the state-of-the-art facilities for testing and trialing their aviation technology. Notably, Wisk Aero recently achieved a milestone by conducting world-first test flights for an unmanned aircraft from Kaitorete. Dawn Aerospace and Kea Aerospace are also poised to utilize the infrastructure for their innovative projects, including horizontal space launches and stratospheric flights.
Financed by a generous $5.4 million grant from the New Zealand Government’s regional strategic partnership fund, administered by Kānoa, the development underscores a collaborative effort towards propelling the aerospace industry forward. David Perenara-O’Connell, a board member of Tāwhaki, emphasized the pride of the mana whenua (indigenous people) of Kaitorete in supporting the sector. He highlighted the significance of blending mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge) with cutting-edge aerospace innovation, heralding a new era of sustainable land use.
Kaitorete’s strategic location, boasting consistently clear skies and a vast unpopulated expanse between Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere and the Pacific Ocean, makes it an ideal hub for aerospace activities. Its proximity to air and seaports, coupled with advanced manufacturing capabilities in Christchurch, further enhances its appeal as a unique aerospace site.
Linda Falwasser, the chief executive of Tāwhaki, emphasized the commitment to not only prioritizing critical infrastructure but also rejuvenating the land. She outlined plans to explore sustainable energy solutions such as solar power and green hydrogen production and storage. The focus on research, science, and innovation is poised to ensure the flourishing of Kaitorete for generations to come.
“The discoveries made here will not only benefit Aotearoa (New Zealand) but the entire world,” stated Falwasser. “From environmental monitoring to precision agriculture, and sustainable space transport, the innovations developed at Kaitorete will have far-reaching implications.”
As New Zealand’s aerospace sector gains momentum, the inauguration of the Tāwhaki National Aerospace Centre and the upgraded runway at Kaitorete sets the stage for a new era of innovation and exploration in the region, promising to leave an indelible mark on the global aerospace landscape.