‘I’d rather die than sell’, says farmer opposing NZ airport

written by Adam Thorn | July 24, 2020
A chilly scene at Christchurch on Wednesday. (Waynne Williams)

The owners of Christchurch Airport have revealed they’ve spent $42 million to acquire land for a new international airport on the South Island – but face fierce opposition from a 68-year-old homeowner refusing to sell up and make way.

The business wants to create a new terminal in Tarras, an hour’s drive from the ski resort town of Wanaka, that would be capable of welcoming planes from Australia.

However, Central Otago farmer Philip Parcell, whose 40-hectare cattle farm would need to be demolished, has become the last person on his block to refuse to move.

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“I have lived here all my life and this is my home,” he told New Zealand publication Stuff. “It’s very unsettling. I don’t want to leave it. The move would be a real wrench. I would prefer to drop dead here.”

Parcell, who lives alone, told the website he has an emotional attachment to his land and has been approached nearly a dozen times by interested buyers since he moved there 42 years ago.

“I’ve held out. I didn’t want to sell the farm. This place means everything to me.”

The opposition to the development bears an uncanny resemblance to the hit Australian film The Castle, which sees the Kerrigan family refuse to sell their home to allow an airport expansion to be built.

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Christchurch Airport boss Malcolm Johns attempted to build bridges with those needing to move by saying talking to residents was his “top priority”.

“This is their home and it’s important they are given the opportunity to ask us their questions directly and understand our thinking,” said Johns.

“The conversation has been bubbling around for a couple of years around the availability of aviation infrastructure in the lower South Island.”

The business insists the new airport would only be built when Queenstown has reached maximum capacity, with an opening at least five years away.

“This airport is designed as an ‘and’. So there will be Queenstown ‘and’ this airport. It’s not an either-or. Looking at it over the next 50 years, there’s no question those communities are going to need more infrastructure.”

Should the airport’s plans be successful, it would need to spend up to $400 million more over the next few years. The plans propose a runway capable of withstanding A320 jets but not larger planes such as 777s or A380s.

Air New Zealand chief operating officer Carrie Hurihanganui supported the proposals, arguing that the existing infrastructure at Queenstown is “insufficient for the long-term”.

“The Southern Lakes region is the jewel in New Zealand’s tourism crown and it is crucial that infrastructure – including airports – is aligned with population growth, community needs, and New Zealand’s future tourism aspirations post-COVID-19,” Hurihanganui said.

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11 Comments

  • Paul

    says:

    Nice photo above of Christchurch in the snow with the caption “A chilly scene at Christchurch last Wednesday”
    I don’t think so – it has an Air NZ B737 in the photo and they haven’t had them in their fleet for quite a few years!

    • Dave

      says:

      You’re onto it, Paul. Good spotting. Air NZ last scheduled 737-300 flight was mid-September 2015. The reg of that one looks like it was reg. ZK-NGR (it’s a bit hard to read at that scale) which wasn’t even the last -300 flown. So the ‘chilly’ mid-Winter photo would pre-date the last flight (that was reg. ZK-NGI) by a month or so at least considering the time of the year if indeed it is around a five year old pic.

    • Russell

      says:

      Hahahahaha GOOD ONE MATE!!!

    • KATERINA TAYLOR

      says:

      It just says “A chilly scene at Christchurch on Wednesday” – it could have been a Wednesday when they took the photo a few years ago 😉 LOL

    • Graham

      says:

      You hit the nail on the head!

  • Blind Freddy

    says:

    He’s like that old idiot, who, in May 1980 refused to leave his home, which was in the path of a possible eruption of Mt St Helens.
    Well, we all know how THAT ended!

    This bloke in NZ MOVED to his current property; he hasn’t lived all of his life on it.
    He’s probably holding out only to get rich quick.

  • Geoff

    says:

    Agree, looks a great photo of difficult air side operations. It looks like ZK-NGP, which was sold off in August 2014.

  • Guglielmo

    says:

    Didn’t say which Wednesday…..

  • Nick

    says:

    Insanity – the last thing NZ needs is more airports. Work on improving what they got – surely Wanaka has scope for expansion and upgrading of existing runway.

  • Alan Pace

    says:

    All involved. The above article cites the movie “The Castle” and believe me, watch it before proceeding further lest a similar fate awaits. (ps. I side with said old bloke.)

  • James Smith

    says:

    It may have been Wednesday seven years ago!
    Also, proposing a runway capable of “withstanding” A320 jets. Do you mean capable of supporting A320 jets?

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