Mayor Craig Little said a new runway would open up opportunities for bigger passenger planes and more business. – RNZ
Government Investment in Wairoa
The government of New Zealand has allocated $1.2 million for the purpose of extending the Wairoa Airport’s runway. This decision is part of a larger funding package, totaling $3.7 million, aimed at supporting the town of Wairoa. The need for this assistance was highlighted in February when a severe storm caused substantial damage in the area, isolating it from the rest of the country due to the loss of road access. The extension of the runway is expected to enhance the town’s resilience and connectivity, allowing larger planes to land and facilitate the transport of emergency supplies during disasters.
Boosting Recovery and Creating Jobs
The extension project is expected to stimulate job creation for tradespeople who will be mobilised to repair storm-damaged homes. Beyond offering immediate employment opportunities, the extended runway will also enable the Air Ambulance Service to operate from Wairoa. This adjustment will lead to quicker medical response times, a crucial factor in emergency situations. Local leaders have expressed gratitude for the government’s recognition of their need for support and its proactive measures to provide it.
Regional Recovery Agency’s Role
The Hawke’s Bay Regional Recovery Agency (RRA) has welcomed the further government funding for key recovery priorities across the Hawke’s Bay region. The funding will be used to support small businesses, boost tourism, improve Wairoa’s River Reserve area, extend the operational distance of the Wairoa Airport runway, and develop accommodation for tradespeople and future horticulture workers. The RRA’s Oversight Board Chair has highlighted how the funding will not only help the district increase its resilience and connectivity but also create employment opportunities for recovery workers.
Support for Small Businesses
Impacted business owners across Hawke’s Bay who continue to face significant revenue loss due to the storm are set to receive support as part of the recovery plan. Ensuring that visitors from outside the region know that Hawke’s Bay is open for business is another recovery priority. The funding will aid in getting the region’s tourism industry back on its feet and encourage people to return to Hawke’s Bay, thus assisting in the revival of the region’s economy.
Building Back Safer and Smarter
The funding will enable Wairoa to build back safer, stronger, and smarter. It will also help the region prepare for the medium and long term, taking steps to bolster resilience levels and protect Wairoa against future disasters. The Hawke’s Bay region is continuing to make progress with recovery, with many people and entities working together. This collaboration aims to align Hawke’s Bay’s recovery priorities with the government’s programs and future funding pathways.
Encouraging Tourism to Hawke’s Bay
Part of the funding is earmarked for the tourism industry, which has been severely impacted by the cyclone. A significant portion of the new tourism funds will be invested in marketing campaigns to draw visitors to Hawke’s Bay, focusing on proven markets such as Wellington and Auckland. The funding will also assist in rectifying and countering widespread misconceptions about Hawke’s Bay’s readiness to welcome visitors. The aim is to increase the region’s share of domestic visitors, which has been reduced as a result of the cyclone.
First published on BNN.