Kapiti residents band together in effort to save airport

Imogen Wells
Source: 1News

Kapiti Coast residents have come together to call for action on saving the area’s airport.

Templeton Group, which owns Kāpiti Coast Airport in Paraparaumu, say it’s not profitable, floating plans to sell the land or repurpose it.

Residents, however, say the airfield is part of the region’s woodwork and must be saved.

National’s Ōtaki candidate Tim Costely organised the public meeting to give locals the chance to have their say on the land’s future.

Members of Templeton Group were invited to attend, but declined the offer, and told 1 NEWS in a statement a final decision is yet to be made, and it is engaging with wider stakeholders including iwi on plans going forward.

The issue of the land the airport is on is complex.

The Crown acquired it from local iwi, Puketapu Hapū, in 1939 under the Public Works Act, turning it into an emergency airport during the war.

In 1995, under a National Government, the land was sold into private hands.

Some claim Māori were never consulted or offered it back.

“The Crown should have to answer for that, in every step of the way. The Crown has the responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in,” Puketapu Hapū representative Takiri Coterrill said.

The iwi has a claim going through the Waitangi Tribunal and 1 NEWS understands if the land is returned, there are plans for a marae and a college to be added alongside the airport.

It’s believed Templeton Group is exploring options for turning the land into a housing development.

One resident who lives near the airport said there have recently been a large number of vehicles clearing some of the land and surveying it.

Tony Quayle, Kāpiti Districts Aero Club chief executive, said the land’s owners are carrying out geotechnical surveying of the entire field to “see what they would be dealing with if they build houses”.

Further announcements from Templeton Group are expected in December this year.