26 Oct 2019

Chatham Islands Airport misses out on government funding

6:16 pm on 26 October 2019

Chatham Islands Airport has had its application to the Provincial Growth Fund turned down, but will try other agencies.

Wharf, Pitt Island, Chatham Islands.

The wharf at Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands. Photo: AFP / Julia Thorne

A year ago, the long awaited upgrade of New Zealand's most remote regional airport moved one step closer when the board of Chatham Island Airport Ltd signed an agreement with the Provincial Development Unit for $98,000 of funding from the Provincial Growth Fund.

The funding was to help complete the technical specifications and preliminary costing of the airport development, through the completion of the final geotechnical laboratory tests.

It was also to support completion of a comprehensive business case for the project, which the board said was vital regional infrastructure

Airport board chairperson Allan MacGibbon said they were hopeful of eventually getting the support the airport needed.

"While it is a setback, we are encouraged by the fact the Ministers responsible for the decision were convinced by our argument and have directed that the application be passed to the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Transport," the board posted on social media.

Mr MacGibbon said it was part of a wider issue afflicting regional New Zealand.

The Chathams was a "very focused example" of how small regions struggled with fewer people to support vital, but expensive and large-scale, infrastructure, he said.

"The Chathams has 600 people, or thereabouts, similar to the West Coast, Northland, and the east coast of the North Island - all of these places struggle with not enough people but (need) the same level of infrastructure."

Ideally the board would like to have larger and faster aircraft serving the islands, which are a two hour flight from mainland New Zealand, Mr MacGibbon said.

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