• John Luxton

Minister of Lands John Luxton today announced the sale of Christchurch's Wigram airbase to Ngai Tahu who intend to use the land primarily for aviation purposes.

The deal will see Ngai Tahu provide accommodation for two Royal New Zealand Airforce helicopters at nominal rent for two years and waive operating charges for this period. They will also allow an annual RNZAF flying camp to operate at no charge for two years. The Crown will keep ownership of the Airforce museum.

The New Zealand Defence Force will keep the existing Defence Purposes designation over the base for two years.

`` Ngai Tahu are keen to develop the land primarily for aviation related uses. Other possible uses include training facilities and residential development of the peripheral land on the base. The tribe will evaluate all its options over time and is currently talking to the Christchurch City Council about its plans.'' Mr Luxton said.

`` I am confident that releasing this parcel of Crown land will result in sound developments for the city of Christchurch while ensuring that the base maintains its links with aviation use'' the Minister said.

For Ngai Tahu the purchase of Wigram and the deal with Defence are part of the tribes commitment to the South Island and to maintaining an aviation facility at Wigram.

``The purchase of Wigram comes with a considerable amount of community interest. Nineteen thousand people signed a petition to save Wigram. We believe Ngai Tahu has the capacity and the innovation to find new ways to make this happen,'' Chief Executive Sid Ashton said.

Ngai Tahu will pay $18.7 million (GST inclusive) for the 235ha property. The value was set by an independent registered valuer employed by the Crown. The valuation methology used calculated the value based on the highest and best use for the land. Final settlement date is in December 1997.