The airport control tower from 1947, now deactivated and part of the museum. A new control tower close to the hangars was only completed in 2017.

Readers of the Mainstream Media will have seen the council ‘Media Advisory’ reproduced on Alan Tristram’s blog and on this page of the Stuff website in which the present Kapiti Mayor calls for “the district’s airport to be returned to tangata whenua.”

The airport site in Paraparaumu is facing closure, with the possibility of the 40 hectares being rezoned and developed as housing.

According to the Stuff article, “Resident Takiri Cotterill said her whānau had lived in the area for at least nine generations. ‘My grandmother was one of the original owners of the land which was taken in 1939, under the Public Works Act 1928, for an airport for defence purposes during World War II. At the cessation of the war, instead of returning the land, the crown continued to hold the land for general airport uses’.”

“Generations of her whānau had sought the return of the land, which is part of the Ngāti Puketapu hapū estate.”

However, the understanding by Waikanae Watch of treaty settlements is the Waitangi Tribunal cannot give back land that has gone into private ownership; the Crown can offer other land that’s been land banked for this purpose or cash, or a combination of both, but it is very unlikely the Paraparaumu airport will be offered back to the original owners, or that KCDC could afford to buy it — $150 million+? Additionally, it doesn’t generate a profit as an airport, so it will need business being built up and we all know how KCDC goes with that…

Furthermore there is the likelihood that some of the original owners of the airport land prior to it being taken under the Public Works Act were not Maori, so they have no access to the Waitangi Tribunal over it, this may involve the Maclean whanau.

The 2005 report of the Auditor General into the sale of the Paraparaumu Aerodrome (the then term) by the Ministry of Transport is here (87 page pdf).

KCDC should have enforced the restrictions on the airport and kept the airfield purposes clauses all the way through; once it started to get changed and divided up, that was effectively the beginning of the end. Readers can see a timeline of the Plan changes on this page of the council website

It’s apparent that the most recent owners of the airport have simply seen it as a big chunk of real estate to landbank, and the lure of a sizeable capital gain on subdividing it into housing is substantial for the current owners.