Shane Jones brings the house down
Shane Jones is better than most at bringing the house down, but he set a whole new benchmark when he took to the Bay of Islands airport building with a digger.
He had permission though, his effort marking the beginning of a project that will result in a larger, more fit-for-purpose terminal.
His audience included Kipa Munro (Nga¯ti Re¯hia), deputy mayor Tania McInnes, and representatives of Air New Zealand and Far North Holdings.
The redevelopment of the airport would benefit Far North residents and the tourism industry, he said, and he was proud that the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) was supporting it.
“Local government and stakeholders in the region should be commended for their combined efforts to formulate a business case and bring it to central government as an investment-ready proposal,” he added.
Before attacking the building (and activating an alarm that someone had forgotten to disable), he confessed that the last time he’d operated a digger “was years ago, on the farm”. The machine, he added, was a symbol of his desire to “dig a provincial wishing well”.
Meanwhile, Mr Munro named the boundaries of Nga¯ti Re¯hia’s territory, with the airport roughly sitting at its centre.
“The design concepts of the new terminal will be overlaid with features of significance to the Nga¯ti Re¯hia hapu and Ngapuhi iwi,” he said.
Far North Holdings director Kevin Baxter said Mr Jones’ adventure on the digger marked the start of a “bright new chapter in the story of this district’s drive to develop a world-class tourism product that can compete on every level with the very best that Aotearoa has to offer”.
The terminal was the first of six “shovel-ready” projects championed by FNHL to receive funding from the (PGF), designed to upgrade key items of infrastructure that underpinned the Far North tourism industry and wider economy.
The terminal upgrade is expected to cost $4.75 million, with $1.75m from the PGF enabling the inclusion of a baggage screening area to future-proof the new facility against CAA requirements. Work is expected to be completed in December.
Shane Jones celebrates a job well done.