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Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck at the unveiling of the Electron, the world's first carbon composite launch vehicle. The company is now headed to Mahia ro launch into space. New Zealand Herald picture.

Rocket Lab chooses Mahia for space launches

23 November 2015, Debbie Gregory and Andrew Ashton, The Gisborne Herald

Community leaders delighted that the rocket launching company has chosen this region as its base for space.

A DECISION by Rocket Lab to make Mahia its priority launch pad site is “fantastic news” and an “amazing opportunity”, community leaders in the Gisborne-Wairoa district say.

Auckland-based Rocket Lab said yesterday its decision was partly because of the time it was taking to get the necessary resource consent from Christchurch City Council for a proposed launch site in Canterbury.

It already has the necessary consents for the site on the Mahia Peninsula and aims to launch rockets from 2017.

The company would continue to work through the resource consent process in Canterbury, but gaining resource consent was simpler for the Mahia site.

Gisborne Chamber of Commerce president Gavin Murphy said Rocket Lab’s arrival was “an amazing opportunity”, and fitted well with the region’s historic traditions.

“The historic voyaging traditions and legacy of the region from the Horouta waka through to Cook’s arrival is now at the next stage with voyaging into space," he said.

“This is an amazing opportunity for Mahia and the wider region. We urge all businesses and potential suppliers to Rocket Lab to do all they can to ensure they can be successful in the region.

“Gisborne Chamber of Commerce has been actively assisting Rocket Lab to understand this region is open for business and that we can support their activities here. The recent hosting of the Rocket Lab executive team in Gisborne means we believe there will be ongoing opportunities for local businesses.”

Mr Murphy praised the pro-active approach shown by Wairoa District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council around the issue of resource consents.

“Their speed of process and decision making on the consent process has given this region the advantage. More councils should take note of how the RMA process can actually be used to attract business rather than hinder it.”

Thrilled at the Mahia launch site

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little is “thrilled to bits” that Rocket Lab changed its mind and made Mahia its main launch pad.

“It is fantastic news — this is real big for Mahia, Wairoa and all the district.”

Jobs will be created straight away as a result of the decision in roading and infrastructure.

“This is also a big coup for tourism. Where else in the world is there a rocket launch pad?” Mr Little said.

He said the opportunities could be far-reaching.

“In the future if they can consolidate in Mahia, who knows what that will bring to all the district — there will be spin-offs for Gisborne too.”

Wairoa District Council chief executive Fergus Power said it was good Rocket Lab had confidence in setting up business in Wairoa.

“We want to show that our district is open for business, we are the best-kept secret in New Zealand and we are open to business opportunities for Wairoa. “

WDC staff worked really hard to ensure the appropriate consents were processed in a timely way and they were to be complimented for their efficiency and customer-centric approach.

“We are a relatively small council and are very much in touch with our community. We understand that we’re working with people and businesses. We see our role as helping people to understand and comply with the relevant legislation.”

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon agreed it is great news for the whole district.

“I am delighted with their decision to use Gisborne as one of their business bases,” he said.

Mr Foon has written to the chief executive of Rocket Lab about what Gisborne can offer.

“Through Gisborne District Council and Eastland Community Trust, we have an opportunity to facilitate Rocket Lab building rockets here, sparking a real opportunity for our region to participate in the technology world thanks to the hosting programme provided by Eastland Group and Gisborne Chamber of Commerce.”

Regional economic development agency Activate Tairawhiti helped with hosting Rocket Lab executives on a recent fact-finding visit to the region. Chief executive Steve Breen said the agency would continue to work to support Rocket Lab to establish and grow their business here.

“This is great news and reflects the hard work done by a number of local people and organisations in staying with Rocket Lab and giving them the compelling reasons for locating to this part of the country.” 

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