Wellington Scoop

Fighting the takeover of the golf course

airport on to golf course

Wellington Airport’s plan to take over the golf course became known almost two years ago.

An airport master plan announced in October 2019 said the terminal would be doubled in size, with “taxiway improvements” for which it wanted to buy the the southern portion of the Miramar Golf Course to provide space for additional aircraft stands, taxiways and aprons.

In December 2019, Ian Apperley wrote that the airport would be “paving over paradise” at the golf course:

It’s been a war out East for many decades between the airport and the community, with the locals often at odds with the monopolistic entity that the city owns a third of. Despite the Council sitting on the Airport Board, it has never managed to halt the expansion … Somewhat conflicted, the Councillors and Mayor have always been silent about the impact.

He added that the masterplan would have

… a devastating impact on the Southern Miramar community – [but] the residents are stuck in the middle of a situation beyond their control, with no support from their local Councillors.

And more:

The plans are laid, the construction will happen, and despite the inevitable legal moves, it will only be a matter of time. The golf course held out for years in constant back and forth legal battles, but in the end, it capitulated. Just like the Council has over this masterplan.

A month earlier, Miramar locals had met to discuss their concerns. Their spokesperson said the airport’s expansion plans would:

– Impose commercial/industrial scale activity in an established residential zone
– Remove open space from everyday use (esp. dog walkers/kids)
– Set the scene for further ‘airport noise blighting’ and continuing airport expansion over Miramar

In June last year, the airport confirmed that it had purchased the golf course and the site of the former Miramar South School:

“We have a flexible arrangement with the golf course that means the members will be able to use the full course until demand meets a sufficient level that the airport needs to commence development.”

The flexibility didn’t last long.

In December the airport announced a plan to expand on to the golf course to create sealed “taxiway improvements.”

The plan was approved a month ago, in spite of a objections and criticism from the community and environmental groups due to the lack of consideration of climate change, community amenity (especially noise) and long-term economic resilience.

It is this plan that is now being opposed by the Guardians of the Bays, with an appeal to the Environment Court saying the expansion is “aggressive and unsustainable.”

Guardians co-chair Yvonne Weeber says the Airport could hardly have picked a poorer neighbourhood to bear the brunt of its proposed expansion:

“This reads like a real-life retelling of The Castle: Strathmore Park is one of the most socio-economically deprived areas in Wellington, and the majority of the worst-affected locals are Kāinga Ora tenants without a voice and without the means to fight. We’ve got to help them and future generations to tell the Airport ‘they’re dreamin’.”

Guardians of the Bays will ask the Environment Court to overturn approval for the East Side Area expansion on a number of grounds, including –

• The removal of the existing buffer from the District Plan that separates the community of Strathmore Park from the Airport’s operational activities;

• The devastating effects on surrounding neighbourhoods of increased noise, reduced amenity, increased dust, visual disturbance, light pollution;

• Vastly increased traffic congestion that the Airport have no concrete plans to manage;

• The lack of information on how environmental impacts of stormwater, earthworks, sediment and dust are to be managed;

• The lack of consideration or information on air discharge from airport operations right next to neighbouring Strathmore Park Residents pollution – including largely Kaianga Ora owned social housing;

• No means of residents complaining about excessive noise and environmental issues if this expansion goes ahead;

• No agreement to maintain the long standing and hard contested public connection of vehicles, cycles and pedestrians between Broadway and Moa Point on the East Side of Wellington Airport; and

• No commitment to support New Zealand’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and be carbon neutrality by 2050 by Wellington Airport or airlines using their facilities.

If you’d like to help, here’s how to send a donation towards the considerable costs of the Environment Court appeal.

Guardians of the Bays Inc is made up of concerned Wellingtonians who come from different professions, cultures and backgrounds and live either close or further away from the Wellington airport. We are working together to reduce Wellington Airport’s existing and proposed adverse environmental effects. We consider the expansion and extension of Wellington Airport as promoted in the 2040 Vision – Wellington Airport are not required. We are advocating Wellington Airport stops its proposed runway extension and golf course expansion plans now and starts working on long term sustainable passenger and freight options. We recognise the significance of the airport in relationship to the economy in Wellington City. We also know the serious negative effects of the airport on the environment, surrounding neighbourhoods and climate change emissions.


  1. Ian Apperley, 19. October 2021, 12:11

    WIAL is quite amazing to watch. Despite these types of ventures being canned all over the world due to climate change concerns, ongoing COVID issues, and environmental concerns, WIAL just bull headedly persists. Why?

    Because they haven’t got any other way of expanding, and their shareholders are demanding it. Let’s not forget the monopoly position whereby profit is in some ways set by the amount of square meterage WIAL has. Therefore, adding a significant amount of land then allows them to charge a significant amount more cash.

    There is so much that could be done with that land in a profitable way that wouldn’t impact, but support, the community and yet the WIAL aviation gas-guzzling dinosaur prepares the bulldozers to rip up good land and put down concrete. And, Councillors and Mayor still nowhere to be seen.

    PS Hi Wellington, been a while! 🙂

  2. luke, 19. October 2021, 13:06

    Golf courses are a very poor use of urban land. Happy to see it change.

  3. Traveller, 19. October 2021, 13:40

    You prefer tarseal or asphalt instead of grass?

  4. Andrew H, 19. October 2021, 17:00

    Build houses on it.

  5. Wellington Inc, 19. October 2021, 18:01

    They will lose their social licence with ALL Wellingtonians if they close the road between Broadway and Moa Point on the East Side of Wellington Airport.

  6. TrevorH, 19. October 2021, 19:38

    The airport is in the wrong place. Its position is absurd. Move it up the coast to Ohau or thereabouts, linked by a dedicated rail spur. It has no future where it is.

  7. Ray Chung, 19. October 2021, 19:55

    I’m not a golfer and have never played at the Miramar Golf Course but I’ve taken visitors out there and they all think it’s great having a golf course so close to town. I’d like to see the course stay and if the WIAL needs more land then why don’t they use the land they already own on the west side of the airport that they’ve leased to retailers. I’m not swayed by WIAL wanting to have more direct international flights apart from to Australia. I used to fly internationally monthly and don’t consider connections in Christchurch or Auckland to be any inconvenience.

  8. Guy M, 19. October 2021, 21:27

    TrevorH – you’re completely wrong. It is perfect where it is. One of the great features of Wellington. Don’t you dare move it !

    Dunedin has an airport which is 40 minutes / 40 km away from the city – and it’s one of the reasons why Dunedin is dying. It’s a nightmare journey, and if you want Wellington to stay as the capital then it is vital that the airport stays close at hand. If anyone was to be so stupid as to move the airport up to Ohau, you’d kill the whole city.

  9. Henry Filth, 20. October 2021, 6:19

    How do Stockholm and Oslo survive when their airports are so far (40 to 50 km) out of town? Or Edinburgh?

    But Ohau? Can you imagine an attempt to build a high-speed rail link from Ohau to Wellington?

  10. Andrew, 20. October 2021, 8:48

    Great to see the proposed expansion of the airport terminal passing another stage in the process. The current site is seriously constrained. Look forward to seeing a larger terminal that not only delivers a more pleasant passenger experience but one that is also capable of handling larger aeroplanes, potentially offering more efficent connections both domestically and to our Tasman and Pacific neighbours.

  11. Guy M, 20. October 2021, 9:57

    Having not flown into Oslo, or Stockholm, or Edinburgh, I don’t know – but I’ve certainly taken a train into Edinburgh and the train takes you right into the heart of the old town. Their train is fast, and smooth and highly frequented. I presume that there is probably also a train link to the airport in all three of those examples – as well as the trains being an actual real alternative to the planes being served.

    Dunedin, being the opposite of Edinburgh in so many ways, has no train, and no bus, but you can share a shuttle, or hire a car. Ohau is also near a rail line to Wellington – but not currently served by any service I think. Given that the existing rail line stops at Waikanae and that takes over an hour to get there (and considerably further on to Ohau) – and given that the rail route was built in the 1880s – it is not really possible to describe it as a high-speed rail link, now or in the future.

  12. Jim, 20. October 2021, 13:36

    Google has the commuting times from Oslo Airport to central Oslo at 35min for car and 20min by train. Similar for Stockholm – no chance of getting close to that if we build the airport out in Kapiti – without several billion $ of new rail.

  13. Benoit, 20. October 2021, 17:57

    What a place where a private organisation can choose to destroy the livelihood of two burbs, while the public organisation supposed to step up for the residents is nowhere to be seen, border complicit. [via twitter]

  14. Iona Pannett, 20. October 2021, 20:27

    In a severe climate crisis, it is fantastic to see the Guardians of the Bays take this important appeal. The time of expanding airports and motorways needs to end. [via LinkedIn]

  15. Ray Chung, 20. October 2021, 21:06

    Iona, seeing the WCC is part-owner of the airport, where does it sit with this extension? The WCC has representatives on the WIAL board?

  16. Ruth, 21. October 2021, 17:20

    This quote from the DomPost today: ‘Airport chairman Tim Brown said Infratil had worked constructively with the council, and the board had been unanimous in all decisions since 1998.‘ That’s more than 20 years of council agreement with WIAL. Unlikely that the WCC representative (our representative) will speak out now. Isn’t it the Mayor?

  17. Ray Chung, 21. October 2021, 20:12

    Thanks Ruth. I wonder why the WCC is so silent on this apart from Iona’s note above?

  18. Ruth, 21. October 2021, 22:14

    I’m particularly disappointed by the silence of the Eastern suburb councillors.

  19. Benoit, 22. October 2021, 12:01

    Ruth: Sarah Free, Iona Pannett, Laurie Foon and Tamatha Paul are openly opposing the expansion. Teri O’Neil is too, but less publicly so. Sean Rush, while concerned for residents, doesn’t want to get in the way of the market. What concerns me is the Labour “block”. While, in principle, concerned about climate change and standing for the people, they refuse to comment publicly on the expansion, which, to me, says they are implicitly supporting it.

  20. Richard Keller, 24. October 2021, 21:09

    Benoit. We must relinquish the notion that Labour is left or centre-left. Labour is neo-liberal, as are most parties anymore. So it’s not so surprising that a mostly Labour-oriented council would be silent on the airport as the airport is much of ‘who we are’, to the detriment of the future in a carbon-constrained world. Musn’t seem too ‘radical’, that is, too realistic about climate change.

    This silent treatment from the council would be driven by the council staff but somehow they never get mentioned. To counter this silent treatment, we must be able to say out loud that Labour is not Left, and also say out loud that the council staff is neo-liberal.

  21. Ray Chung, 25. October 2021, 15:17

    Richard/Benoit, I beg to differ! In my opinion, this government and council are as far left as it’s possible to be. The council is also the most condescending to Residents Associations that I’ve ever experienced.

    On 20 October, Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons together with Rebecca Matthews, Teri O’Neill, Jill Day, Jennie Condie, Tamatha Paul, Sean Rush and Liz Kelly voted against the proposal for the Council to work with communities on neighbourhood planning and the impacts of density including parks etc. Councillor Fitzsimons said that neighbourhood planning would give resident organisations “too much power” to stop housing and give residents “false hope about the power they had” to alter density decisions. Voting for consultation with communities were: Iona Pannett, Sarah Free, Laurie Foon, Nicola Young, Andy Foster, Diane Calvert and Simon Woolf.

    In Australia, neighbourhood planning is undertaken collaboratively with residents in Melbourne, Sydney and other Australian cities grappling with density. Why not here?

  22. Ross Clark, 26. October 2021, 3:25

    The airport has been there for a very long time – longer, I submit, than most of the people who now live in the Eastern Suburbs. The question for the planners to resolve is not the level of disruption in the area (and I used to live in Kilbirnie), but how much more disruption will result. Aircraft are less noisy than they used to be.

    To answer one comment above, Edinburgh’s airport is eight miles from the city centre, and 30-35 minutes by tram or airport express bus. Offpeak, a car or taxi might take 25 or so minutes.