WSG to Ignite Chamber: the community needs to be heard

This afternoon, Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce issued a statement telling the Upper Clutha community to be “patient and respect the process”. Our response is below, and their original media release follows below our statement.

The following statement has been issued by the Chair of Wanaka Stakeholders Group 5:15pm, 23 September 2019. For immediate release

This evening’s statement from Ignite Wanaka talks of “combative opposition” which is “disturbing”.  I think the Chamber’s board is severely misreading the tone of this community reaction.

We have nearly 3,000 members (including 460 business owners) who have been calmly asking for more information and transparency from Council for months. 

We are backed by the four community organisations who represent 3,500 residents and have made a united submission to Council.  And we are joined by all of the Wanaka Ward candidates and two of the three mayoral candidates in the call for greater community consultation and involvement around these key issues.

This is backed by a large scale survey which has shown that the vast majority of Wanaka residents – including business owners – are deeply concerned about how decisions about Wanaka Airport have been made, and the poor flow of communication from QLDC and QAC. 

This is not a great report card.

We believe the whole community needs to be heard on this issue – not just a handful of corporates for whom a growth agenda is put ahead of the environment and those in our own community. It is against that background that we are holding our Council to account via Judicial Review for decisions which we view as both unlawful and unreasonable.

This is not a conflict as the Chamber claims – it’s a cry from the community for inclusivity, transparency and involvement.  We have been asking for more inclusive discussion for months. 

The fact that we now need to take this to court is regrettable, but QLDC have left us with no other option.



Wanaka Chamber of Commerce calls for community calm

The Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce is calling for calm in the community amid threats of legal action against Queenstown Airport Corporation.

Board chair Bridget Legnavsky says seeking a judicial review is premature, costly and counterproductive at this stage in the planning process of the draft masterplan for Wanaka Airport.

“Queenstown Airport Corporation conducted an extensive period of community engagement in 2018, where people were asked to contribute their thoughts about what they’d like Wanaka Airport to look like in the future, over a five-month period,” she says.

“QAC has been working on this feedback ever since then and is developing a draft masterplan, that will take into account the need for sustainable future-proofing at Wanaka Airport. This process has been put on hold while Queenstown Lakes District Council undertakes its independent social and economic impact assessments, and central Government undertakes its spatial planning work. This information will also help shape the draft masterplan for Wanaka Airport, at which point our community will be able to have a robust discussion with QAC through the next round of community engagement.

“We are urging the Wanaka community to be patient, to respect the process that now must take place and understand that we will have the chance to have more say on the draft masterplan as soon as is practicable.”

Legnavsky says the negative sentiment in the community and the combative nature of opposition is deeply concerning.

“The conflict that’s going on in the community at the moment is disturbing. Right now, our reputation across New Zealand is under scrutiny. We are not in a problem of over tourism – everything is flattening and for the business community, that has got to be stressful and troubling. Our numbers are flattening but our costs associated with rent, compliance and wages are escalating. The outcome for Wanaka is that this will become the most expensive place to live and people won’t survive here.”

The Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce board has today shared with its members a fact sheet about Wanaka Airport, in the interests of encouraging an informed conversation.


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