Govt invests $16m in space venture with Ngai Tahu runanga – while protecting culture and biodiversity for good measure

The Government has invested $16 million in buying plots of land as part of a new partnership with Ngai Tahu, this one launched to take part in this country’s fledgling space industry.

It was described as “an exciting multi-pronged aerospace project” and – Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods proclaimed – it is coming to Kaitōrete Spit, a 25km stretch of land on the Canterbury coast.

It’s thanks to “a special commercial joint venture” between Kaitōrete Limited (Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Wairewa Rūnanga) and the Crown,

“ …  which will unlock jobs – including aerospace, develop a space launch and R&D facilities, protect cultural interests and the unique bio-diversity of the area.”

But wait.  There’s more:

“Project Tāwhaki is a special partnership with both Rūnanga that will rejuvenate a nationally unique environment, honour deep cultural relationships, and provide amazing opportunities to tap into the multi-billion-dollar aerospace economy. This is a very exciting day.”

We trust this venture fares better in winning the hearts and minds of local Maori than Rocket Lab has done at Māhia Peninsula in the Hawke’s Bay.

Generally celebrated as an exemplar of Kiwi ingenuity, RNZ reports the company seems to have burned off support among Māhia locals.

They are angry at the use of military payloads and accuse the company of breaking its promise.

Other releases from the Beehive tell us –

  • The OECD’s latest review of the New Zealand economy shows “growth picking up due to the Government’s ongoing support to secure the recovery from the effects of COVID-19”;
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Aussie PM Scott Morrison have wrapped up the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting; and
  • Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced three New Zealand Head of Mission appointments.

Joint environmental and aerospace project to ‘lift off’ on the Kaitōrete Spit

Iwi-Crown partnerships have blossomed on Jacinda Ardern’s watch and this press statement, announcing “an exciting multi-pronged aerospace project is coming to Kaitōrete Spit on the Canterbury coast”, portends more to come based on this model.

It starts with four highlights:

  • Exemplar Māori-Crown partnership
  • Protecting cultural and environmental interests
  • Up to $300m in annual benefits (by year 10)
  • Plans to develop aerospace R&D facilities, including space launch

We would like to hear more about the annual benefits “up to $300m”.  Benefits ranging from $1 to $300m come into that sweeping guesstimate.

Project Tāwhaki is “a special commercial joint venture” between Kaitōrete Limited (Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Wairewa Rūnanga) and the Crown which will get into the space business while protecting cultural interests and the area’s bio-diversity.

And the contribution to atmospheric emissions?

Woods didn’t mention that while enthusing about the potential to develop our space industry:

“Suitable sites for a space launch and aerospace testing facilities are scarce globally and this long finger of land along the coast of Canterbury is an ideal location. I’m delighted that we can come together in partnership with Kaitōrete Limited to achieve collective conservation, cultural and economic wins,” Megan Woods said.

Kaitōrete Limited and the Crown have entered into a Joint Venture partnership to purchase parcels of land (1,000 hectares) near Banks Peninsula.

The Crown has contributed $16 million to secure the land. The Crown and the Rūnanga will each own 50 percent shares in the land and project.

Then a Kaitōrete Limited spokesperson, David Perenara-O’Connell, gushes about the cultural side of the deal:

“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,” Kaitōrete Limited spokesperson David Perenara-O’Connell said.

“By developing aerospace on Kaitōrete Spit we can generate a sustainable and viable industry for us and our greater Christchurch community. This will also enable the Rūnanga to invest more into the rejuvenation of Kaitōrete and the adjoining hāpua, Te Waihora.”

The nature of the relationship was emphasised in the next paragraph:

“This is a true partnership, co-designed and co-developed between the Rūnanga and the Crown. It recognises that the project could not have been possible without each other, and by working together, everyone is able to achieve their goals. The opportunities of Project Tāwhaki will benefit generations to come – mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri a muri ake nei (for us and our children after us),” David Perenara-O’Connell said.

Woods made much of the Crown-iwi relationship too:

“We will work in partnership with the Rūnanga to develop a conservation plan that will protect and rejuvenate the special ecological and cultural areas on and around the site while allowing for R&D activity,” Megan Woods said. 

“Te Taumutu and Wairewa Rūnanga are mana whenua and rangatira of Kaitōrete. No one has more responsibility to manage, protect and restore the area for future generations, than them. This makes the Rūnanga the ideal partners for the Crown to work with and I’m excited for the future that Project Tāwhaki will bring,” Megan Woods said.  

The name Project Tāwhaki, chosen by the partners, draws on the Ngāi Tahu ancestral connection to Tāwhaki, a demi-god from Ngāi Tahu pūrākau (stories) who sought celestial knowledge from his gods.

Tāwhaki was able to navigate his journey by seeking and building strong relationships, by being adaptive and innovative and using his sheer tenacity to keep going until he reached his goal.

More information can be found on the MBIE website

OECD report card shows NZ a strong performer

This one is typical ministerial braying of a “well done” report from the OECD (Point of Order has not yet read the report but reckons it’s a fair bet Grant Robertson has done some cherry-picking).

The OECD’s latest review of the New Zealand economy shows growth picking up due to the Government’s ongoing support to secure the recovery from the effects of COVID-19.

“The OECD Economic Outlook notes New Zealand is expected to be one of the stronger performers in the OECD, with a robust rebound due to our swift and decisive response to eliminate the virus and support households and businesses,” Grant Robertson said.

“It forecasts growth of 3.5 percent in 2021 and 3.8 percent in 2022, in line with the Budget Update, driven by solid household consumption, rising investment in infrastructure and gradual increase in tourism as borders reopen.

“By the end of the forecast period, New Zealand’s growth rate of 3.8 percent is expected to outperform most of the countries we compare ourselves to. Australia is 3.4 percent, Japan 2 percent and the United States at 3.6 percent, while Canada matches New Zealand at 3.8 percent.”

Robertson acknowledged that challenges remain.

“Economic volatility is a global risk and New Zealand is not immune. There are still challenges ahead but we are in a good position to handle them,” Grant Robertson said.

“The report is consistent with the Government’s balanced approach, keeping a lid on debt while targeting support to where it’s needed most to tackle long-standing issues around climate change, housing and child wellbeing.”

And so on …

Robertson didn’t mention the OECD’s criticism of our slow vaccine rollout.

New Zealand has the second slowest Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the OECD and ranked 115th in the world.

Joint statement: Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison

Phew.  There are almost 3500 words in this one, and 51 paragraphs.

It starts by telling is what we all knew:

Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP met in Queenstown on 31 May 2021 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting.

Topics discussed included ..

COVID-19 response and recovery

The Prime Ministers discussed plans for reconnecting this region with the rest of the world, and welcomed continued close coordination given the linked trans-Tasman border.

They noted opportunities to collaborate on initiatives to extend travel options for Pacific neighbours when safe to do so, including through the trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel zone.

Officials are charged with exploring technological solutions to verify vaccination status to enable Australians and New Zealanders to reconnect with the wider world, alongside other technological solutions that support a safe reopening, while maintaining the trans-Tasman travel arrangements.


The Prime Ministers committed to continuing work already underway with Pacific governments, the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and other partners to support Pacific economies, helping affected communities and businesses. They agreed to continue advocacy with other partners for increased assistance to the region.

They welcomed “the deep and continuing partnership between Australia, New Zealand and Pacific island partners” to address regional security issues including climate change, transnational organised crime, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, cyber-security and cyber-crime, and corruption.

And they welcomed the entry into force of the PACER Plus Trade and Development Agreement, under which Pacific island countries will benefit from increased economic activity encouraged by customs modernisation, harmonisation and a Development and Economic Cooperation work programme supported by a dedicated implementation unit.

Trans-Tasman cooperation

The Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of ongoing work under the Single Economic Market agenda to promote policy and regulatory coherence, and to support economic recovery.

Their talks embraced mutual work on the digital economy, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, the Trans-Tasman Cyber Security Research Programme, biosecurity, food standards, mental health support and retirement savings.

People-to-people ties

Under this heading, the PMs talked about quarantine-free travel and support for each country had provided to the other’s citizens during COVID-19.

A nugget of news could be dug out of this section:

The Prime Ministers were pleased to confirm a change to the unique pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders living and working in Australia. From 1 July 2021, Australia will reduce the number of years in which applicants for the New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) permanent residence visa must reach the minimum income threshold (from four years to three..

Climate change and the environment

Agricultural emissions came into considerations with this one.

The Prime Ministers agreed on the importance of ambitious and practical action in pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. They agreed to sustain close and valuable cooperation on climate change, including in the Pacific and on agricultural emissions. The Prime Ministers recognised the important contribution that innovation and accelerating the deployment of technology will play in reducing emissions. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the strong link between climate change, oceans, and biodiversity.

Other big topics canvased were global trade, Indo-Pacific and Global security

 Minister of Foreign Affairs makes three diplomatic appointments

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced three New Zealand Head of Mission appointments. They are:

  • Richard Prendergast as Ambassador to Brazil
  • Felicity Roxburgh as Consul-General to New Caledonia
  • Barney Riley as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

One thought on “Govt invests $16m in space venture with Ngai Tahu runanga – while protecting culture and biodiversity for good measure

  1. Minister, Dr Megan Woods, gushing again, “An exciting multi-pronged aerospace project,” she proclaims. Indeed, i wonder how many of the good doctors’ projects will be successful?

    Liked by 2 people

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