Work paused on western end of Whakatane Airport runway extension

Work on one end of the extension to the Whakatane Airport runway has slammed to a halt after the discovery of several shell middens by one of the contractors.


It was hoped the quarter million dollar extension would be completed by the end of this month to allow Air Chathams to fly into town with its slightly larger Saab 340 aircraft before the busy summer season, but the discovery of the shell deposits has put that in doubt.


The find triggers protocol laid out in the resource consent, which requires work to cease while an archaeologist investigates the site, overseen by Ngai Taiwhakaea the hapu with mana whenua over the airport area.


The archaeologist will lodge an application with Heritage New Zealand for the Archaeological Authority before work can continue, which the District Council says could take 6 to 8 weeks to reach a decision.

Michelle Keighley