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Eastland Group and airport owner Gisborne District Council have announced that a new terminal for Gisborne Airport has received the go-ahead

Iconic new terminal for Gisborne Airport

Last year, a New Zealand Airports Association report identified Gisborne as one of a dozen smaller airports facing an uncertain future under funding pressures. Now, airport operator Eastland Group and owner Gisborne District Council have announced that a new terminal has received the go-ahead.


The announcement means the region’s ambitions to become a significant player in the national and international tourism market have taken a major step forward. Gisborne District Council announced in May that it has signed a heads of agreement which will see it collaborate with Eastland Group, Ngai Tawhiri and Eastland Community Trust (ECT). 

Eastland Group, the locally-based infrastructure company, has operated, managed and developed the airport since 2005, and under the new agreement will receive an extended 30-year lease. With the agreement signed, the long-discussed terminal redevelopment project can now get underway.

Showcase for the region

Deputy Mayor Rehette Stoltz says Gisborne District Council is committed to investing in and showcasing the region. “It’s important to progress with redevelopment so that we have an airport we can be proud of and that reflects who we are as a region.”

Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says the new terminal will play a key role in the Tairawhiti Navigations programme, the council’s $10 million regional tourism investment programme. “Collaborating together with Eastland Group and tangata whenua to link projects under the Tairawhiti Navigations programme will ensure visitors and locals are shown a unique point of difference that is distinctly Tairawhiti, whether they are arriving, leaving or enjoying our many iconic sites across the city.”

Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd says there is no doubt the current terminal building, built in the 1960s, needs to be significantly upgraded. “From a purely practical point of view, it needs earthquake strengthening, and to be expanded to accommodate larger planes and greater numbers of travellers. We’ve been working closely with Air New Zealand and other stakeholders on what is needed to future-proof the building,” he says.

“But the opportunity is much bigger – we have a chance to be genuinely visionary. The airport is a vital gateway to the region and, together, we’re uniquely positioned to create an iconic terminal that showcases and celebrates the stories of Tairawhiti. We look forward to working with our partners and sharing the journey with the community as the new terminal takes shape.”

Partnership with mana whenua

Ngai Tawhiri, a hapu of Rongowhakaata, are deeply involved in the development of the terminal design. “The core design and artist team contributing to the development of the airport is drawn from this team,” says Ngai Tawhiri working group member Lisa Taylor.

“We are working in partnership with Eastland Group in the design and development of the new Gisborne Airport and towards the replanting of the Waikanae stream, with stage one planned from the Gisborne Airport through to Te Kuri-a-Tuatai marae,” she notes.
“We are very excited at the prospect of building on this relationship from a hapu/iwi perspective, and see this as a strategic move in establishing local knowledge regarding the mana whenua of Ngai Tawhiri, Rongowhakaata,” she adds.

ECT chief executive officer Gavin Murphy says the trust commends Eastland Group’s inclusive approach to the airport’s redevelopment. “The collaboration between mana whenua and Eastland Group is critical on a number of levels. It demonstrates great stewardship of what is ultimately a community asset, and a deep respect for our culture and heritage. 

“From an economic development perspective, it will add real value to the region’s First Light brand and our tourism offering. Because of this collaboration, when you stand in this terminal, you will know you are in Tairawhiti.”

Moving forward

The project is now being scoped, with expressions of interest being sought from building companies. 

Eastland Group, as the commercial operator, will invest some of the money required. It is also in ongoing talks with ECT and has applied to the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) for funding towards the project. 

In terms of timings, Mr Todd says: “We’re working to fast-track the construction to minimise disruption and deliver it as soon as possible.”

Concept drawings are due to be released soon. There will also be ongoing opportunities for the community to share their ideas on how the region is showcased within the terminal. 

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