The official opening of the Ruakura Superhub this evening is a landmark juncture for the Waikato-Tainui iwi and heralds a stronger economic future of the wider Waikato region.
Te Puhi Ariki Ngawai Hono I Te Po Paki (standing in for her father Kiingi Tuheitia who is attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II) and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson jointly headlined an opening ceremony held on site at Ruakura to mark the opening.
Speakers reflected on a 16-year journey to bring the first stage of the 490 ha superhub, located on Hamilton City’s eastern boundary, to fruition.
Tukoroirangi Morgan who chairs Te Arataura, the executive committee of Waikato Tainui said the sustained effort to bring the superhub to life reflects the intergenerational thinking of the iwi and its wish to hold and develop whenua.
“Ruakura opens the doorway for a bold and intergenerational investment as affirmed in our strategic plan, Whakatupuranga 2050. We are committed to building a legacy for those who come after us,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said Ruakura Superhub is a superb example of the benefits to Aotearoa when iwi and the Crown work together.
“This is due to the dogged determination and courageous investment by Waikato-Tainui and Tainui Group Holdings to continue to pursue the idea through a long period of minimal investment in the regions and long before most people had even heard of an inland port.
We are very proud of our Government’s investment of $56.8 million in public infrastructure at Ruakura through the PGF and Infrastructure Reference Group (IRG) Programmes, together with Tainui Group Holdings and Hamilton City Council,” he said.
Tainui Group Holdings (TGH), the commercial entity of Waikato-Tainui has been developing the superhub since 2006, navigating a raft of planning, financing, construction and tenanting milestones to deliver the 92 ha stage one which opened for business earlier today.
Stage 1 of the Ruakura Superhub includes the first 9 ha of what will eventually be a 30 ha inland port served directly by the East Coast Main Trunk rail line and a dedicated interchange on the recently opened Waikato Expressway. The first stage includes a 35 ha logistics hub, 25 ha of industrial space, a 10ha wetland and network of local roads.
Future plans for the full 490 ha estate include major industrial, commercial and retail sub-precincts, along with provision for up to 3,230 residential sections.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, TGH Chair Hinerangi Raumati-Tu’ua said the superhub represents the economic future for Waikato-Tainui.
“Ruakura Superhub is a super-sized project that will continue to create the sustainable economic benefits that go towards funding important social development, cultural, and environmental programmes for current and future generations of Waikato-Tainui.
The benefits of Ruakura Superhub also go much wider, and the economies of our city, region and nation will all feel the positive impacts of what we are building here. Commerce, jobs, efficiencies, homes, and environmental gains will all come from - in fact are already coming from - Ruakura Superhub,” she told the 290 guests.
Hinerangi thanked representatives from local hapu; Ngaati Koroki-Kohukura, Ngaati Hauaa, Ngaati Wairere, Ngaati Maahanga and Ngaati Tama Inu Po who have served on the Ruakura Superhub Tangata Whenua Working Group. The members provided extensive input into tikanga and the cultural design of the superhub through its many development stages.
Extensive planning has gone into making the superhub as sustainable as possible. Increased use of rail is forecast to remove 65,000 truck journeys per year from roads when the superhub is fully operating. One million native plants are currently being cultivated and planted for the 10 ha wetland and swales, and near-future plans include a microgrid of up to 5MW of solar photovoltaics.
The location of Ruakura at the intersection of key transport networks servicing the golden triangle, improved container efficiencies and the overall quality of the development is proving an attractive combination for major tenants. Over 70% of the Stage 1 logistics precinct is already leased or under-offer.
Confirmed tenants to date include major new facilities for global players Kmart and Maersk, along with domestic growth businesses Big Chill, PBT and Waitomo Group. The inland port itself is a 50% joint venture of TGH and Port of Tauranga with initial capacity of up to 60,000 container movements per year. This is set to grow in stages to 1 million container movements per year when the inland port is fully developed.
TGH CEO Chris Joblin thanked the incoming tenants for their early commitment to the precinct, welcomed them to the neighbourhood and acknowledged the support from central and local government for the project.
“The wave of investment and renewal they are bringing is an exciting moment for the Waikato and New Zealand economy. They are bringing new talents and skills to the region as well as creating new opportunities for iwi members and the wider community,” he said.
Key investment partners included the New Zealand Government which co-funded public infrastructure through the Provincial Growth Fund and Infrastructure Reference Group programmes. Also, Hamilton City Council which provided $5 million funding for transport infrastructure and took the lead on the project to build public roads within the Superhub.
Key service providers include Bloxam Burnett & Olliver, Boffa Miskell, Beca Group, Calder Stewart, Cambridge Construction Company, Chow:Hill, CMW Geosciences, C&R Developments, Fulton Hogan, KiwiRail, Pragmatix, Schick Civil Construction, Tika Group, Tonkin & Taylor, West Construction Ltd among dozens of other local sub-contractors, including eight owned by iwi members at one recent count
Mr Joblin thanked TGH’s Ruakura project team and wider team for driving the project for many years, and never losing sight of the opportunity for the iwi. “I am very proud of our team for delivering this project from green fields to world-class logistics hub,” he says.
Parekawhia Mclean, Chair of Te Whakakitenga o Waikato, the tribal parliament of Waikato-Tainui, says the official opening of the Ruakura Superhub is a proud and symbolic day for the iwi.
“Today is about our tuupuna and kaumaatua. All those who fought so hard to see our iwi move forward for the betterment of our people. I hope they are as proud as I feel and can see that we are on a pathway that will bring positive outcomes not just for us but also for our rohe and the nation.”