Questions and Answers

Environment

The Park is based on first and foremost on respecting the land and watercourses. An extensive initial ecological and landscape survey was undertaken, which mapped the ecological features - watercourses, wetland and areas of vegetation - and identified the values of these. The need to retain and enhance these features was recognised from the start. The masterplan reflects this; hydrological and vegetation patterns form a framework within which the proposal will be integrated.

Every effort has been made to protect, restore and enhance the watercourses, wetland and flora and fauna. After understanding and protecting these areas we were able to identify what land would be left for development. That’s why we have a very low-density design that fits into the existing landscape.

Please look at the design material that is now available on the website – this will bear these statements out.

In particular, we have been very careful not to alter catchment patterns. The Civil design started by considering the natural catchment boundaries – particularly in the area we’re now referring to as the Innovation Hub. We have also focused on retaining the hydrological balance of the site - getting water back into the land rather than shooting it off elsewhere. The landscaped ponding areas we refer to below are important to ensure post- and pre-development levels are consistent.

Baseline studies have been carried out in both catchments on water quality and fish life. These can be referenced in the future.

The design protects and enhances existing natural systems, and maximises amenity and aesthetic appeal while rejuvenating former environmental degradation. A network of naturalised wetlands will treat stormwater throughout the site. Wetland ponds will provide stormwater retention and water supply for firefighting, connecting through a series of swales, raingardens and surface sub-drains.

The ponds will provide biodiversity and visual amenity throughout the multi-use business hub and will be linked by pedestrian and cycle routes. This will aid the integration of the commercial footprint into the rural environment, providing an enhanced ecology. It is intended that some of the ponds will remain full of water for firefighting while others act as water retention in times of heavy rainfall.

Ecological reports have been produced which include recommendations regarding plant and animal pest eradication, riparian planting and buffer and linkage vegetation planting - all designed to improve the health of the waterways, and health and diversity of native ecology. Future plantings are recommended to be of species appropriate to the Ngawha area (plants used for restoration and enhancement planting will be eco-sourced from the Kaikohe Ecological District), with some areas recommended to be formally protected.

Planting will be site-responsive, a mix of hardy native species reflecting the historic Tōtara, Puriri and Podocarp forest types that are dominant in the Ngāwhā region. Wetlands are prevalent in the area. Endemic species of reeds and rushes will flourish and flow through the development’s business and agriculture zones. Mix-use wetland, swale and mitigation planting will provide ecological visual amenity. Both larger trees, such as Kahikatea, and smaller trees, such as Kōwhai, will be planted in and adjacent to the wetlands. The use of Kōwhai and other deciduous trees will be investigated at the detailed design stage, while also ensuring the park has good sunlight year-round, primarily around the Honey Manuka hub area, the offices/classrooms and adjacent the pedestrian cycle network. Garden beds, swales and trees will be strategically placed to provide partial screening to the adjacent factory buildings whilst providing stormwater catchment. This helps provide amenity, shelter, biomass and ecology for bees, flora and fauna. Puriri and Podocarp specimen trees are large native species and, when semi-mature, will help soften the building heights to a moderate scale.

Far North Holdings has worked closely with tangata whenua, ecologists, NRC and other interested parties to achieve the restoration and protection of this special catchment area. If the project proceeds this will be a priority for achieving the social and environmental outcomes we’re looking for. After all, at heart this is not a commercial development but a community-led partnership.

NRC will receive all reports including Ecological report which include recommendations regarding plant and animal pest eradication, riparian planting and linkage vegetation planting all designed to improve the health of the waterways and health and diversity of native ecology. NRC can enforce this through conditions to be imposed on resource consents.

The closed loop system at the Park involves the utilisation of waste output from one business by another business at the Park, and the treatment of wastewater, and disposal to land, on site. We will not have a fully closed loop system in Stage 1 but we will be close to it in Stage 2.  This image shows the relationship between waste streams and proposed tenants in the Park.

While the Park itself will not have cultural significance, it has been designed to be sensitive to the sites of cultural significance around it. There is no current plan to have any heavy industry on the Park and the layout has been designed to be sensitive to the other areas around it. For example, the buildings are designed / screened by trees so that they merge into the surroundings.

We aspire towards as much of a ‘closed loop’ design as possible which would see proposed Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park being home to businesses that can use the waste and unwanted by-products of other businesses on the site.

The proposed innovation and enterprise park is being designed to be as self-reliant as possible, to avoid placing additional demand on already-stretched community services such as potable water, raw water, waste water treatment and waste management services.

The entire concept of the proposed park respects and enhances as far as humanly possible the environmental, ecological and cultural aspects of the area. To this end we have committed to working closely with tangata whenua throughout the project lifecycle, but particularly now in the early planning stages.

By doing this we will understand what is acceptable, what is not, and how we should balance the social and economic needs of whanau, hapu and Kaikohe generally with the environmental demands we are all so conscious of.

We aspire towards as much of a ‘closed loop’ design as possible which would see much of the environmental impact of activity inside the park dealt with there. We envisage the proposed Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park being home to businesses that can use the waste and unwanted by-products of other businesses.

Human waste, effluent, grey water and storm water will all be processed and dealt with on site.

The proposed innovation and enterprise park is being designed to be as self-reliant as possible, to avoid placing additional demand on already-stretched community services such as potable water, raw water, waste water treatment and waste management services.

Viability

It’s very close to Top Energy’s geothermal power-station at Ngawha. The reduced-rate electricity that Top Energy will provide is of significant interest to a number of businesses in existing, new and emerging sectors of the economy.

The proposed Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park 90 minutes by road to New Zealand’s only natural deep-water port, Northport, and less than 30 minutes to the Bay of Islands Airport. Highly productive agricultural land lies within a radius of 60 minutes by road.

Kaikohe also lies within a part of rural Northland that would most benefit from the economic stimulus that the proposed Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park would provide.

Far North Holdings Ltd has a very clear remit to use its assets and expertise to boost investment and employment in the Far North for the benefit of our communities and our local businesses.

The company has abundant expertise in the field of land and commercial property development and has created an alliance of interested parties to help deliver this project. This includes the Northland Te Tai Tokerau Economic Action Group and Northland Inc, with all of its inward investment expertise.

Far North Holdings acquired the land for the purpose of creating an innovation and enterprise park, and the company developed the funding application that was successful in securing the PGF money that is funding Stage One of the project.

Northland Te Tai Tokerau Economic Action Group and Northland Inc are involved as project partners.

We’ve made good progress in discussions with potential tenants. We’ve had significant interest from organisations involved in horticulture, biofuels, prefabricated housing, education and manuka oil extraction. We have been focusing on securing interest from businesses and enterprises that are new to Northland, that are offering new jobs, and that will be able to fill these positions with local people who are currently unemployed.

There really isn’t anywhere in and around Kaikohe that would give us the scale and cohesion, or allow the integration between tenants, that we envisage within an enterprise park or innovation hub such as this site is intended to be.

Also, it’s very close to Top Energy’s geothermal power-station at Ngawha. The reduced-rate electricity that Top Energy will provide is of significant interest to a number of businesses in existing, new and emerging sectors of the economy.

Top Energy has an exemption from the Electricity Authority which means that it is not required to run as two separate businesses.

Top Energy’s network business has said that it would be able to offer potential investors cheaper electricity in the form of reduced lines charges. The Top Energy generation business has also offered wholesale power agreements which offer a significant discounted to retail power prices.

Our focus is on Innovation and Enterprise. The proposed Park is not intended at this stage to be a place for heavy industry.

We want as much of a ‘closed loop’ design as possible. This will be achieved partly through the development becoming home to enterprises that could use the waste and unwanted by-products of other businesses on the site.

It is being designed to be as self-reliant as possible, to avoid placing additional demand on already-stretched community services such as potable water, raw water, waste water treatment and waste management services.

We are committed to delivering a result that is good for Kaikohe, good for Te Tai Tokerau, and good for our people. We are in the business of adding value to our communities and we are determined that the end result will exceed everyone’s expectations – in a good way!

We are looking for cornerstone/anchor tenants whose activities will complement and support rather than compete with already-established local businesses – activity that will extend potential in the region and add value to existing businesses by helping them extract greater value from their operations.

It is possible that some tenants will have equivalent activities outside of the park, so there is potential for competition. However, we are seeing that there is room for growth in some industries that will enable leverage for that industry as a whole - so all engaged in that industry can benefit.  For example - a 'Northland' or 'Te Tai Tokerau' brand; easier participation by smaller operators who can become part of a larger co-operative approach; better access to shared services within the hub.

And, of course, similar businesses not located within the park will still be able to access skills, services and technology established in the park to support or help their businesses grow.

Structure

We intend to apply for a change to the rural zoning of this land to make it more practical to establish the proposed Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park here.

We are progressing both approaches in parallel so that we can start generating as much early momentum as possible.

In most cases we envisage a typical commercial build-and-lease model. If specialist facilities are required by a tenant we may need to explore other options.

FNHL using its commercial acumen will provide assistance in identifying associate activities that create a more mutually beneficial commercial environment or add value to each other.

Wherever possible FNHL will seek to identify solutions to any obstacles to development.

FNHL will look to secure third party funding, if needed, to support the establishment of new enterprises.

FNHL as a commercial entity can construct and leaseback the buildings or plant required, where it has the capacity to do so.

Nothing will be built on site without the appropriate levels of commitment from anchor or cornerstone tenants. We believe there will always be a market for the agricultural land which can be sold to recoup the original outlay by Council.

The PGF funding for Stage One will enable us to determine, once and for all, whether our hopes and aspirations for this project are viable. That alone must be worth the $890,000 investment in Stage One.

Process

Stage Two is contingent on the findings of Stage One. It will involve making a start on the implementation.

We have done so.

The development of the park is a long-term investment in raising the economic and social well-being of the region. As with other similar innovation parks, if the development goes ahead, it will be staged and evolve over a long period. It is too early to say how long the first stage of physical development would take as this is also dependent on the investment plans of the businesses intending to locate there.

Community

We have resolved to be open, engaging, accessible and responsive throughout. We will seek to develop tailored communication that addresses the primary interests and concerns of each stakeholder group.

We intend to be consistent in our messaging, following a ‘tell one, tell all’ approach. This website will be the ‘single source of truth’, where all core info and updates will be made available.

Community consultation and engagement opportunities will be publicised well in advance and flagged clearly on our website.

We have committed to working closely with tangata whenua and community groups throughout the project lifecycle, but particularly now in the early planning stages, to ensure that all designs and activities respect and enhance as far as humanly possible the environmental, ecological and cultural aspects of the area.

By doing this we will understand what is acceptable, what is not, and how we should balance the social and economic needs of whanau, hapu and Kaikohe generally with the environmental demands we are all so conscious of.

The working group is already working with local hapū Ngati Rangi on one potential opportunity. It has started discussions with Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi and hopes for the rūnanga’s ongoing involvement.

Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi has said the proposed project enables a greater opportunity for industry collaboration, which brings collective commercial, economic and social benefits for all. It has said it expects a high standard of design, with consideration for buffer areas as well as restricting certain types of industrial activities. It says there is no reason why the proposed park cannot be a functional and attractive employment area that maintains an appropriate relationship with surrounding land owners.

The potential tenants we have been speaking with tell us that they will need to fill as many as 333 full time equivalent positions, both on site and through specialised training conducted there. There is no reason why these should not be filled by local people who are currently unemployed. An Innovation and Education Centre will provide office accommodation for businesses, and laboratory space for research and development providers who will collaborate with primary sector organisations to add value to their production. The centre will also contain state-of-the-art communication technology, conference and education facilities so providers can deliver on-site and on-the-job education and training. This will ensure that locals can be trained to fill the positions available, and employers at the innovation and enterprise park can access the skilled workforce they need.

There is a shortage of good quality, affordable social housing in the Mid North. We are investigating opportunities whereby we can help rectify this while also providing on-site accommodation for people who are working and training at the proposed Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park.

The scale and scope of the necessary infrastructure is still being mapped out.

We aspire towards as much of a ‘closed loop’ design as possible which would see much of the environmental impact of activity inside the park dealt with there. We envisage the proposed Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park being home to businesses that can use the waste and unwanted by-products of other businesses.

The proposed innovation and enterprise park is being designed to be as self-reliant as possible, to avoid placing additional demand on already-stretched community services such as potable water, raw water, waste water treatment and waste management services.

We do not expect Far North ratepayers to pay for or subsidise any additional infrastructure generated by the proposed Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park.

If the project proceeds, Far North Holdings will develop the infrastructure and first buildings at the Park on behalf of the region. This ensures open access and de-risks the investment from a Crown and local government perspective.

Any additional infrastructure thereafter will be funded on a commercial basis through long-term tenancy agreements.

This is really a question for Top Energy.

From our perspective, the potential for cheaper electricity is one of the major draw-cards for businesses looking to invest at the Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park. This investment has the potential to create jobs and develop valuable and transferable skills locally, creating not only economic value but social value as well. We believe the trade-off against a marginally greater annual electricity discount is worthwhile.