• Jim Bolger
Prime Minister

Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, Barry O'Connor, Tony Steel, Bob Simcock, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I thank you for inviting me here today to open along with Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu this fine new airport terminal.

As one of the most frequent users of the airport it is my local airport this development is going to give me more personal pleasure than most.

It is also, I suspect, going to give a great deal of pleasure and convenience not only to Hamiltonians, but also to an increasing number of visitors.

The Waikato/Bay of Plenty is one of our most vigorous economic regions.

Trade brings travel and I have no doubt that the number of commercial visitors who pass through the terminal will escalate in the years ahead.

The biggest growth area, however, is tourism and again we can expect spectacular growth both internally and from overseas.

Tourism is already our biggest industry and it is poised to grow bigger still - far bigger.

And Hamilton is an ideal gateway, not just to the city itself, but to the entire region.

And here, for any tour operators present, may I draw you to the proximity of that potential tourist Mecca just an hour from this airport by road.

I refer to the King Country.

Every thing from the subterranean wonders of the Waitomo Caves and The Lost World, to the high-life of Te Kuiti on Friday night all of them unique experiences.

It is interesting to reflect on the history of what we now know as the Waikato Regional Airport; a story that stretches back over 60 years.

From the day it was opened 12th October 1935 as the Hamilton aerodrome under the ownership of Mr C B Smith to today.

Along the way there were to be many interesting stories, indeed I could tell a few myself.

One event must be acknowledged today, because had it not happened there may not have been a terminal of this quality here.

In December 1994 Kiwi International commenced trans-Tasman charter flights from Hamilton and in August 1995 began scheduled flights.

It is not my purpose today to track over Kiwis subsequent misfortunes.

Except to observe that it was always tempting fate to name an airline after a flightless bird, and that the airline business has always been a risky one.

I recall the words of the British entrepreneur, Richard Branson, who when opening his trans-Atlantic service, Virgin, with a single aircraft said:

With just one aircraft, this airline is going to have the worlds best safety record or the worst.

Kiwi didn't make it.

That was unfortunate, but the concept of free enterprise has always included the freedom to fail.

No Government can prevent that, nor should it.

Public money should not be used to prop up private enterprise. But I want to acknowledge what Kiwi did achieve:

It did demonstrate that there was a market for low-cost airline services in New Zealand;

It did demonstrate that international services could originate in centres such as Hamilton; and

It did give many Hamiltonians a great deal of pleasure visiting their friends and relatives in Australia.

I therefore hope that the can do spirit of Kiwi is still alive.

Most certainly Kiwi showed the way that others are following.

I understand that Freedom Air is using the international facilities for similar low-cost flights, and that they will continue to do so and meet the demands of the market.

I am very pleased about that because the facilities are superb and they deserve to be used to full capacity.

I compliment you on the development.

I congratulate the builders and all others who contributed to the construction.

And I wish all who will work here the very best for the future I'm sure they will enjoy operating the new amenities every bit as much as I will using them.

Thank you.