Tāwhaki was joined by the Minister Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall who was eager to learn more about our special and unique Kaitorete.

We shared whakapapa and pūrakau of our land, what it means to be mana whenua, and the exciting future ahead. We also introduced the unique biodiversity of the area, including the rare pīngao on the sand dunes which our weavers use as a golden thread.

Our site is Aotearoa’s first multi-use aerospace research site. This is where we currently have our partners flying new and innovative technologies, like battery and solar-powered drones (uncrewed aircraft). Suitable sites for aerospace activities are scarce globally – this long finger of land along the coast of Waitaha is an ideal location.

Through the development of aerospace activities and R&D facilities on the whenua, there is the potential to generate significant and regenerative economic outcomes through job creation, capital investment and ancillary opportunities.

Minister Verrall’s visit (in her new role as Shareholding Minister for Tāwhaki) follows the announcement of our partnership with New Zealand Government in June 2021 where we embraced the opportunity to rejuvenate the whenua at Kaitorete and bring forth new beginnings to explore aerospace.

“This area is steeped in whakapapa and is hugely significant to the whānau of Te Taumutu and Wairewa. As mana whenua, it’s our role to make sure that we honour the past; those who have lived, travelled and fallen in this area by protecting and restoring its values and reaffirming our relationship to this whenua for our future generations,” Tāwhaki spokesperson David Perenara-O’Connell said.

Kaitorete is recognised for its high ecological values. The dry, windswept landscape contains endemic plants, animals and ecosystems that are rare or unique in the wild in Aotearoa.

We are now working with pace to bring the dual kaupapa of Tāwhaki together.