A study was commissioned as part of Council’s long-term planning to manage the District’s growth and secure future air transport access for the region. Council investigated several options, including reclaiming land to extend the runways at Onerahi or shifting the airport across the harbour to the Port Nikau area.
Neither of these locations met the long-term aviation needs of the District, largely because of hills jutting into flight paths or because the works would have been prohibitively expensive.
A decision was made to investigate other sites for a potential airport.
2015 to 2017
Council formed the Mana whenua Advisory Group of representatives, appointed by Te Huinga. It also formed a Project Advisory Group including representatives from Ministry of Transport, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Northland Regional Council, Air New Zealand, Northland Inc, Chamber of Commerce and others with a particular interest in the project.
Information gathered in previous investigations, including a study from 1999, and ongoing engagement resulted in a longlist of potential airport locations. A comprehensive analysis was undertaken to identify sites that might be flat enough, large enough and have open approach paths.
A list of 28 new sites was identified, each of which was assessed according to multiple criteria.
The study of options was updated to respond to changes in government policy and ongoing engagement and analysis.
Council purchased property in Ruatangata because it came onto the market after Council had reduced its shortlist to three preferred sites. 2022
Council is continuing to engage with mana whenua, partners and stakeholders, and is undertaking a consultation in accordance with the special consultative procedure to seek public feedback on four options. Council will then decide which site to investigate further, or whether to continue using the Onerahi site.