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Kaitōrete Spit Project to Boost Canterbury’s Aerospace Industry

Credit: Project Tāwhaki, MBIE

Today the Crown and Kaitōrete Ltd announced the launch of their joint venture, Project Tāwhaki. The joint venture has purchased 1000ha on the Kaitōrete Spit to both protect and rejuvenate the Kaitōrete environment and to develop aerospace R&D facilities, including a possible launch facility. 

The purchase is a significant step forward in the development of key infrastructure to support Canterbury’s aerospace and future transport industry. 

Aerospace and future transport is one of the four industry clusters or “supernodes” with enormous potential to boost the region’s economy. Canterbury is already home to a critical mass of aerospace and future transport businesses. 

The sector has a current global value of $360 billion, estimated to increase to $2.7 trillion by 2050. New Zealand’s space economy was valued at $1.7 billion in the 2018/9 financial year, employing 12,000 people. 

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said: “This is outstanding. As a city we have been working hard to build on the strengths of our region while looking at global opportunities. Aerospace and future transport represent an important strand of this work. The development of aerospace facilities at this strategic site, at the same time as restoring the environmental and ecological values of this special place, shows that it is not an either/or.  

 

 Ōtautahi Christchurch has long been a basecamp for exploration of extreme environments, as one of five Antarctic gateway cities. Now the horizon for that exploration has been dramatically expanded as the city’s aerospace industry grows further.

Lianne Dalziel, Christchurch Mayor

“I am personally extremely happy to see the partnership between between Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Wairewa Rūnanga, and the Crown that will deliver intergenerational benefit directly to local people and rangatahi. 

“Ōtautahi Christchurch has long been a basecamp for exploration of extreme environments, as one of five Antarctic gateway cities. Now the horizon for that exploration has been dramatically expanded as the city’s aerospace industry grows further.” 

ChristchurchNZ CEO Joanna Norris said the purchase was a significant step forward for the region’s aerospace ambitions. 

“We’ve known for some time the potential of Canterbury to be a significant player in aerospace and future transport. This purchase brings us a huge step closer to launch, R&D and test facilities that will drive us forward.”  

“Canterbury has the perfect geography and airspace for testing innovative aircraft and autonomous prototypes, and is home to the best in engineering, tech and precision component manufacturing. 

“We’ve got all the right ingredients and now with this land secured, the city can significantly advance. This builds on the considerable potential of the aerospace and future transport supernode that ChristchurchNZ has built with aerospace businesses, tertiaries and iwi.” 

Norris said Christchurch was the first region to develop an aerospace sector plan, which builds on Canterbury’s geographic advantages of clear skies, flat plains, and easy international access, as well as a local talent pool. Nearly a third of national aerospace engineering graduates come from Canterbury universities.  

 

We’ve got all the right ingredients and now with this land secured, the city can significantly advance. This builds on the considerable potential of the aerospace and future transport supernode that ChristchurchNZ has built with aerospace businesses, tertiaries and iwi.

Joanna Norris, ChristchurchNZ CEO

“Our city is an ideal technology test bed for atmospheric and terrestrial projects,” said Mark Rocket, CEO of Kea Aerospace. “Christchurch’s aerospace ecosystem is building momentum and projects are starting to flourish. Christchurch is a gateway to the Antarctic and soon will be a gateway to space.” 

Companies such as Kea Aerospace, which is developing an unmanned high-altitude solar aircraft, Dawn Aerospace, which makes reusable rockets designed to carry small satellites into space, and Wisk, which is a self-flying, electric aircraft that rises like a helicopter and flies like a plane, are part of that aerospace ecosystem and could potentially use Project Tāwhaki’s facilities. 

The Kaitōrete Spit is an area of significant cultural importance to the two Rūnanga involved in Project Tāwhaki. Over the next 12-24 months, 5000 native plants and trees will be planted and the land will be fenced to help protect it.  The land is home to numerous rare and locally endemic plant, invertebrate and reptile species, with internationally recognised ecological value. The spit also has a history of aerospace research, as it was used by NASA for suborbital rocket launches in the 1960s. 

Project Tāwhaki

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