A Wanaka Airport for Upper Clutha People
Greetings from the team at the Wanaka Stakeholder Group Incorporated. Kia ora koutou.
In 2018 Queenstown Lakes District Council gave Queenstown Airport Corporation a long term lease on Wanaka Airport. The terms of the lease were only made public in late 2019 when it was revealed that the lease would endure for 100 years, and included no guarantees for local community input. This amounts to ownership of a strategic Wanaka asset.
Over the last two years QAC has announced plans for large scale jet-capable development at Wanaka Airport and, despite the impact on tourism and aviation of COVID-19, they show no signs of significantly changing their trajectory.
The Wanaka Stakeholders Group has initiated legal proceedings to obtain a Judicial Review examining the process and validity of the lease. This will give Wanaka the chance to wind back the clock. If QAC “ownership” of Wanaka Airport was overturned, the Upper Clutha Community could then be genuinely consulted on the future of its airport, with assurances that the terms of any airport lease or contract include Wanaka community accountability and local input into airport governance.
Over three thousand Upper Clutha residents and ratepayers have joined WSG. Many of you have asked, “what else can we do?” There are many things but right now we need substantial funding to mount an effective legal action and secure the best outcome for the Wanaka and Upper Clutha community.
Donations so far have enabled us to prepare and submit the application for Judicial Review as well as funding monthly legal costs (much but not all work is done by our legal team pro-bono). As we get closer to the court date we expect costs to significantly increase.
If you can help out with a donation, big or small, you’ll be doing something really tangible to protect our airport and our community. If you would like further information about our legal case and the legal team working for us send us an email via our website https://protectwanaka.nz/
Wanaka Stakeholders Group Incorporated
Our key focus for funding is to ensure we can mount a strong case for the judicial review of the lease over Wanaka Airport granted to QAC. This includes communications, research, court costs and filing expenses and costs from our legal team.
Overturning the 100 Year QAC lease on Wanaka Airport 4 July 2020
As it stands, with the 100 year lease in place, the Upper Clutha community has almost no direct influence on the future of Wanaka Airport. Despite the impact on tourism and aviation of COVID-19, neither QLDC nor QAC show any signs of significantly changing their plans. “Off the table” just means a delay until the next tourist boom puts pressure on Queenstown airport’s growth constraints in 5, 10 or 15 years time. It took less than 10 years for tourism to recover from the 2008 financial crisis.
After 5-6 months of preparation (interrupted by lockdown), we are waiting on a hearing date and court location for the Judicial Review of the Wanaka Airport lease.
This is the Upper Clutha’s last chance to have a real say in the future of our airport, and we need to be financially ready for this. Our first funding target is to raise $20,000 through GAL. Core and committee members' work is voluntary/unpaid and funds raised go almost exclusively towards mounting the best legal case we can to get Wanaka Airport back in the hands of Upper Clutha people. We have a strong case and a strong legal team and any donation whether it is $20, $50, $100 or more is valuable.
Please contact us directly if you wish to discuss a donation or any assistance you can provide.