$206 million investment in upgrades at Ohakea Air Force Base

  • Hon Ron Mark

The Coalition Government has approved a business case for $206 million in upgrades to critical infrastructure at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, with the first phase starting later this year, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today.

The investment will be made in three phases over five years, and is part of the Defence Estate Regeneration Programme. Cabinet approval will be sought for final project and funding arrangements for each phase.

“Base Ohakea plays an essential role in maintaining New Zealand’s national security. It  is a principal staging point for NZDF operations, and our response to national, regional and global humanitarian disasters and emergencies,” said Ron Mark.

“The base is also often used as the point of entry for the armed forces of our strategic partners, and its ability to cope with surges of personnel and equipment is vital.

“This spending is required to rectify longstanding problems with Base Ohakea’s supporting infrastructure and ensure the base can continue to function.

“Critical compliance and safety issues will be addressed, as well as upgrades to fuelling and logistics facilities, taxiways and aprons, accommodation and fresh, storm and waste water reticulation.

“Demands on Base Ohakea are increasing with four busy fleets of aircraft – the NH90 and A109 helicopters, the KA350 small transport and training aircraft, and the Texan pilot trainer. In the near future the base will need to be ready to accept the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft fleet. The changes provide flexibility to respond to future demands on the Defence Force and will ensure the base can accommodate these aircraft for several decades to come.

“While the upgrades at Ohakea focus on infrastructure, there is a direct correlation to the wellbeing of our personnel. Improvements to health, safety and compliance enables the Defence Force to meet the needs of a modern workforce.

“A large proportion of the Defence Estate was built over 70 years ago, during World War II. Almost 80% of the Defence Estate is reaching the end of its remaining useful life, and must be replaced in the next 30 years.

“I can also announce today that of the $676.5 million of additional Defence Force operating funding included in Budget 2020,  $69.9 million is planned for investment into the Defence Estate,” said Ron Mark.

The $69.9 million includes:

  • $63.9 million for deferred maintenance across NZDF camps and bases, which will help clear the backlog of deferred maintenance at NZDF bases and camps, which has contributed to 42% of the Defence Estate being assessed as only marginally fit for purpose
  • $6 million for Healthy Homes compliance, which will help NZDF meet the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019, which established minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping in rental properties, and come into effect in 2022 for the NZDF.

“Defence Estate and infrastructure work across our camps and bases will create jobs and provide a crucial boost to regions during the COVID-19 economic recovery and rebuild, with local contractors completing the work,” said Ron Mark.

These investments build on the strong progress made by the Coalition Government this term in regenerating the Defence Estate, through major decisions such as: 

  • Refreshing the Defence Estate Regeneration Programme, with Cabinet in April 2019 increasing the indicative capital funding envelope from $1.7 billion under the previous Government, to $2.1 billion out to 2030;
  • Providing $86.1 million of new capital and operating funding across Budgets 2018 and 2019 for the Defence Estate; and
  • Commencing the over $200 million of infrastructure works for facilities dedicated to operating and supporting the P-8A fleet at Ohakea.