Shane Jones brings the house down

The Northland Age - - Local News -

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.

PIC­TURE / FNHL

Shane Jones cel­e­brates a job well done.

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