At the heart of Tāwhaki is a kaupapa (purpose) to advance Aotearoa’s aerospace industry and rejuvenate the unique whenua (land) at Kaitorete. We do this by weaving together mātauranga Māori, and the very best research, science and cutting-edge innovation in aerospace and environmental rejuvenation to ensure our people and planet flourish for generations to come.

Located 50 minutes from Ōtautahi in Aotearoa, Kaitorete was once a busy trade route for generations of Māori and a site of important Ngāi Tahu tribal events.

It is a significant cultural landscape renowned for its mahinga kai, taonga species, and history, with some of the country’s largest concentrations of middens and pre-historic archaeological sites nationally.

Kaitorete has internationally-recognised ecological value. It is home to rare and threatened flora and fauna species of international importance, including tororaro, pīngao, and karara. It is a key part of the largest and most ecologically outstanding area remaining in lower Canterbury.

The area is a critical gateway to Te Waihora, home to tuna, pātiki, piharau, īnanga, and other fish species that have been gathered here for over 60 generations.


Tāwhaki is already receiving widespread inquiries from parties interested in supporting its dual kaupapa of rejuvenation and aerospace development. This includes support from local universities to create pathways (through education) to job creation, and develop research that could benefit the whenua and Te Waihora.

Kaitorete ticks all the boxes for key technical aerospace and launch site criteria, along with other key advantages – for example, it’s well-placed to provide access to desirable orbits, proximity to an internationally connected city, world-class universities, and a highly skilled workforce as a result of the fast-developing aerospace sector in Canterbury.

Rulon Nutira, Te Taumutu Rūnanga whānau member

Kea Aerospace

A phased approach is being taken to introduce aerospace activity, commencing with a small-scale multi-use Aerospace Research Site that will provide a location to support innovators to test their technologies. Cultural and environmental protection are at the forefront of all activity on the property.

Tāwhaki will assess and evaluate the future opportunities that are compatible and best suited to Kaitorete and will work with Rūnanga whānau, the appropriate agencies and key stakeholders to advance the kaupapa.

Tāwhaki is a world-leading indigenous partner and is set to advance plans to rejuvenate Kaitorete and become the national centre of aerospace testing by 2025, and position Aotearoa on the global stage.

Pou Our strategic

Our four pou (strategic priorities) reflect our focus areas, the aims we are striving for, and the strategic actions that will enable us to deliver on the vision and dual kaupapa of Tāwhaki. We also use the pou as a lens to inform our thinking and decision-making.

Individually, each pou represents a significant driver for success. However, none of the pou can stand on their own, as they impact and connect with one another, and have been designed to work collaboratively.

Tangata (mana whenua)

Through Kaitorete, we will maintain and grow the cultural capacity of whānau and hapū, so they remain firmly connected to the whenua and any future uses.

Taiao (whenua)

Kaitorete is healed, rejuvenated, and nourished for future generations.

Ara Tukutuku (aerospace partnerships)

Tāwhaki is a world-leading Indigenous aerospace partner.

Whakatupu (growth)

Regenerative economic opportunities are created that enrich the lives of whānau and hapū, and contribute to the economic development of Ōtautahi, and Aotearoa.