At 4.30am on Tuesday 19 November, one of the country’s preeminent Māori artists, Derek Lardelli, led a karakia to bless the first stage of Gisborne Airport’s new terminal. Guests included representatives from Ngāi Tāwhiri, who hold mana whenua over the area, airport operator Eastland Group, their shareholder Trust Tairāwhiti, Mayor Rehette Stoltz and other local stakeholders. At 5am, the doors opened to the public for the very first time.
Beneath a magnificent tahuhu that tells the entwined stories of the people of te Tairāwhiti, guests marked the official opening of stage 1 of the new Gisborne Airport terminal on Tuesday.
A blessing at 4.30am was followed by an opening ceremony at mid-morning.
Derek Lardelli designed the tahuhu, or spine, that runs the length of the terminal’s ceiling.
“We are all one, all our ancestors connected to the earth, skies and land,” he said. “The tahuhu represents Manaia, the mana of the people. It carries the aspirations of the people.”
Professor Lardelli also acknowledged everyone involved in making “this historic place.”
Regional infrastructure company Eastland Group operates Gisborne Airport on behalf of owners Gisborne District Council. They are building the new terminal in two stages – while keeping the airport operating. The second and final stage is due to be completed in mid 2020.
“It’s an honour to celebrate the opening of the first stage of our new whare,” said Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd. “And it’s an honour to partner with Ngāi Tāwhiri, who have mana whenua over the area.
“This building represents a vital gateway to our region, and will enable us to accommodate ever-increasing passenger numbers. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a place where visitors and the local community alike can come together and celebrate what makes Tairāwhiti unique.”
The new terminal is being funded by Eastland Group ($2 million), their shareholder, regional development trust Trust Tairāwhiti ($5 million), and the Provincial Growth Fund ($5.5 million).
Trust Tairāwhiti chairman Dr Paul Reynolds highlighted the collaborative approach to develop a terminal that is uniquely Tairāwhiti.
“The five million dollar distribution from the Trust is the single largest distribution in our history,” said Dr Reynolds. “Modernising our airport and ensuring it can serve our communities into the future will not only help local people stay connected, it will be a powerful enabler for economic growth in the region.
“This has been a great collaboration, on a project of regional and national significance. We now look forward to stage two and the completion of this fantastic terminal.”
The theme of collaboration was echoed by Thelma Karaitiana of Ngāi Tāwhiri.
“For the hapu to be involved in such a major development is new. To achieve meaningful collaboration with Eastland Group has required layers of cultural responsiveness, very good communications and creativity.”
Mayor Rehette Stoltz joined the other speakers in thanking everyone involved for their shared vision, including the funding organisations; Ngāi Tāwhiri; Lardelli Arts; Tiopira Rauna and his students, who are creating carvings that will be installed later in the project; cultural consultant Karl Johnstone who facilitated the design process; the architects, contractors and the community.
“And importantly, we wish to thank funders Trust Tairāwhiti, the Provincial Growth Fund and Eastland Group, who have made the entire project possible,” she added.
“When the building is complete in mid 2020, we believe this will be an iconic building that everyone can be proud of,” said Mr Todd. “We’re excited about sharing the final result with you all, and we’re excited about making it happen for the people of te Tairāwhiti.”
Minister for Regional Economic Development, Shane Jones, has previously visited the terminal to see the progress. He commented today: “It is great to see this project hitting a major milestone. This will make a real difference in Tairāwhiti.”
The tahuhu was developed by lead terminal architects Tennent Brown, in partnership with consultant Karl Johnstone and airport operator Eastland Group. It was designed by Derek Lardelli and fabricated by Makers of Architecture, using CNC computer controlled carving on plywood panels.
For updates on the project, follow Gisborne Airport on Facebook.