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Kapiti Air Urban releases vision for Kapiti Airport

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Kāpiti Air Urban - formerly Save Kāpiti Airport - is today releasing its vision for Kāpiti Airport and surrounding land, mapping out an initial plan to enhance the airport. It includes investment in contemporary housing and community hubs, growing avionics and aviation innovation industries, and is consistent with environmental and social governance.

Developed alongside architectural, infrastructural and aviation experts, it demonstrates what's possible in leveraging the region's most valuable asset while honouring the Te Tiriti principles of protection, partnership, and equity.

In releasing its vision, Kāpiti Air Urban (KAU) hopes it will be the catalyst of co-creation of a bright future for the region. In developing the plan, it has engaged with a range of stakeholders, including Ngāti Puketapu hapū leadership, local MPs, government officials, district councillors and Kāpiti Coast District Council. KAU is seeking feedback and contribution from the community on its vision.

Marcel van den Assum, KAU contributor, says the vision retains the airport as a strategic asset while positioning Kāpiti at the forefront of avionics and aviation innovation industries - which will deliver educational opportunities and high-value employment to the region's rangatahi.

"Each day, around 8,000 people leave Kāpiti for work. Our mean earnings are $20,000 lower than the Wellington regional average. Our young people leave to study, and many don't return. This is an ideal opportunity to set our sights higher and invest in our community - particularly as our economy deals with the impact of COVID-19. Our focus as a community must be on creating new industries, new jobs and attracting new investment to Kāpiti, which is all possible through our proposed vision," he says.

Aviation innovation and aerospace is well established in Aotearoa and already happening in Kāpiti. Shaun Johnson, CEO of Merlin Labs, recently featured in national media for his work in developing Murray, new driverless plane technology.

Other examples of technology that could be developed in Kāpiti include AI-driven insights from aerial data supporting agricultural, marine, and conservation sectors; simulator solutions, lightweight composites, and clean energy systems, all crucial for aviation futures. KAU also proposes establishing an aviation tech hub to attract new entrepreneurs to the region and provide pathways for youth to learn and work.

Katherine Corich, entrepreneur and KAU contributor, says that globally, countries are realising the importance of retaining their regional airports, as airlines invest in electric planes and flight, and believes Kāpiti could be at the heart of regional point-to-point travel, which suits our geographic and population characteristics where high volume point to point road or rail is simply not feasible

"Sounds Air is already on the path to electric flight from 2026. Electric air travel will be crucial in reducing emissions, our environmental impact and creating sustainable, eco-friendly ways of travelling. Kāpiti could lead the world in a point-to-point net carbon zero air transport system connecting whānau across Aotearoa," she says.

Alongside growth, investment and educational opportunities, housing, community spaces, and restoring wetlands sit at the vision's heart. Architect Gordon Moller has created sustainable housing guided by The Blue Zone model - a proven medium density housing model that improves the wellbeing and longevity of growing populations.

Marcel van den Assum says KAU believes in creating a community purposely built to foster wellbeing and prosperity while respecting and enhancing a connection to our natural landscape.

"This includes developing high-quality, affordable housing that would draw young families and young professionals back to the region while retaining and taking advantage of the airport as a key regional asset, as well as creating a strong sense of community".

Sustainability, maintaining natural ecosystems, and a low carbon footprint are all fundamental to the Kāpiti Air Urban vision. The proposed mixed-use development plan would provide Kāpiti with more infrastructure and housing while avoiding development detrimental to our natural environment. Engaging Ngāti Puketapu hapū in the planning process to enable restoration of mana on their ancestral land and incorporation of Mana Whenua principles is also key.

"Beyond its incredible potential, we must not forget that Kāpiti Airport is a gateway to critical infrastructure that saves lives and acts as disaster recovery capacity should there be a major natural event that rules out Wellington Airport. This isn't just about planes; and it’s not just about houses. Our priority is our community, and we cannot put a price on the safety and peace of mind of the people within it," van den Assum says.

"For decades, bad decisions have been made about Kāpiti Airport. As the community that calls this region home, we must have a say in its future. Our vision is about driving long-term value creation for our community and our future. Now, we're asking the 87% of the community who told us earlier this year that they want to keep their airport to help us create this future for Kāpiti and make it a reality," he says.

You can find out more information and provide feedback on the vision at www.kapitiairurban.co.nz.

About Kāpiti Air Urban

Kāpiti Air Urban - formerly Save Kāpiti Airport - champions protecting our national strategic asset for the benefit of future generations. It has co-created its vision for Kāpiti, collaborating with experts in various fields and alongside key community stakeholders. It envisions a future for Kāpiti Airport and the surrounding land that enables the region to reap the benefits of retaining the airport as a strategic asset with ongoing growth potential and add value with new housing and amenities through forward-thinking development.

KAU has taken inspiration and learnings from real-life scenarios worldwide and incorporated them into its co-created kaupapa committed to honouring Te Tiriti principles of protection, partnership, and equity.

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