Significant milestone for Canterbury aerospace industry

Significant milestone for Canterbury aerospace industry

Canterbury aerospace

Business Canterbury congratulates the Tāwhaki Joint Venture on opening its National Aerospace Centre and new runway at Kaitorete today, marking a significant milestone in Canterbury’s aerospace and technology sectors.

Chief Executive Leeann Watson says “Being home to the Tāwhaki National Aerospace Centre demonstrates Canterbury’s appetite for growth and innovative, dynamic thinking. 

“The Tāwhaki National Aerospace Centre is a game-changer for Canterbury. It’s an investment in our future, growing high-wage employment and cementing our region as a leader in cutting-edge industries. It is also the type of initiative that will contribute to the broader business landscape with supply chain opportunities and collaboration with other Canterbury businesses a likely outcome.  

“We look forward to supporting members in leveraging the opportunities presented by this state-of-the-art facility and being a part of tackling some of the big challenges facing Aotearoa New Zealand and the world.”

Kaitorete is located between Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) and the Pacific Ocean and offers clear skies and access to a wide range of orbits. US-based Wisk Aero recently conducted its world-first airspace integration test flights for an uncrewed aircraft from Kaitorete and Dawn Aerospace and Kea Aerospace will now be able to conduct horizontal space launches and stratospheric flights from the site. 

The new 1-kilometre runway and planned hangar facilities were funded by a $5.4 million grant from the New Zealand Government’s Regional Strategic Partnership Fund, administered by Kānoa. This is forecast to enable aerospace and tech sector growth that delivers over 1,300 high value, high wage jobs, and up to $2.4 billion in economic benefits over the next 10 years. 

Tāwhaki Board Member David Perenara-O’Connell said mana whenua of Kaitorete were proud to be at the forefront of supporting the country’s aerospace sector and acknowledged their partnership with the New Zealand Government in the Tāwhaki Joint Venture. “To fully enable the sector, supply chains and realise the economic benefits for all New Zealanders, takes a collaborative approach. We’re grateful for the support of our government, local authorities, regulators, aerospace partners, research and science communities, and suppliers who share our vision of a world-leading hub for innovation and exploration. 

“We believe that this mission is truly unique. The way in which we weave together mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge) with cutting-edge innovation in aerospace and environmental rejuvenation, marks a new era in sustainable land use.” 

Tāwhaki Chief Executive Linda Falwasser said the Joint Venture was taking a staged approach to its developments, with the potential to support vertical space launch in future. “We have one of the world’s best locations for aerospace and space launch and we’re prioritising critical infrastructure alongside rejuvenation of this special whenua (land). This includes exploring solar power and green hydrogen production and storage. 

“The research, science and innovation we can host will help ensure Kaitorete flourishes for generations to come. Aotearoa and the world will benefit from the discoveries here, with operators developing new methods and technologies for environmental monitoring, weather and disaster forecasting, precision agriculture, sustainable space transport and beyond. We have received strong global demand for a site that delivers technically while holding steadfastly to its values of protecting and preserving our people and planet.” 

“Having this key infrastructure so accessible is hugely enabling for the whole sector,” said Dawn Aerospace Co-Founder James Powell. “It will be transformative to the development of our rocketpowered aircraft, the Mk-II Aurora.” 

Kea Aerospace CEO Mark Rocket said Tāwhaki is enabling an exciting future for the region and the country. “Kaitorete is situated in an ideal location for aerospace research and development, and offers Kea Aerospace unique opportunities for flight testing and operations of our solar-powered stratospheric aircraft.” 

Professor Peter Gostomski, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) said: “The opening of Tāwhaki National Aerospace Centre allows our region to lead the way in the aerospace sector in Aotearoa, and for the University of Canterbury to play our part in achieving that. 

“For our University to have access to an aerospace research facility right on our doorstep offers an exceptional opportunity for students studying Aerospace Engineering and other related disciplines. Not only to develop unique skills and apply their knowledge but to work in this industry within our region. We’re excited to see continued growth and investment in this sector and envision a future where Waitaha Canterbury stands as a leader in aerospace innovation.”

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