Founder of the Save Mt Ruapehu Facebook Group and spokesperson for the Ruapehu Skifields Stakeholders Assocation, Peter Thomson was interviewed by Kate Hawksby on NewsTalk ZB Early Edition. Locals concerned over how transparent MBIE is being about Ruapehu offers
Ruapehu Skifields Stakeholders Association, spokesperson Peter Thomson, joins us now. Morning to you.
Good morning Kate. Great to be with you.
So the RSSA, the Ruapehu Skifields Stakeholders Association, you guys put in an offer to purchase the skifields. How did that go?
Well, yeah, it's one of those things where on the one hand there's a legal processes and non-disclosure agreements, but there was a leak about a week ago, and it looks like we might not be the preferred bidder. That's one of those things. I mean, you don't win everything.
But it did raise some pretty serious questions around the process because there hasn't been enough consultation with the local community and that's I guess the reason that we've raised a bit of a red flag at this time, as have a few other groups as well, because it doesn't look like the processes has been run as fairly as it should have.
Why? What is it that MBIE is doing? Why are they staying so tight lipped? Why are they making this a difficult process when it shouldn't be?
That's one of the things really disappointing. It's a real shame that the skifields on Mt Ruapehu have ended up in this situation. They have run out of money and that is a real issue that needs solving with some additional investment. But there's such a groundswell of people who want to come together and support the mountain.
Certainly within our group, we've seen thousands of people willing to put in tens of millions of dollars large and small, and wanting to come together to support the mountain. So the idea of carving it up and giving it to private investors in some sort of closed back-room process, I mean, well, obviously there's going to be some kind of confidentiality and sensible process that's run. But the idea of just turning this into a competition doesn't feel right.
No, what would become of it if it gets sold to an overseas investor? There really is an impetus to keep it in local hands, isn't there?
Yeah, absolutely. And I guess that's the secret behind why I really feel that community ownership is so important to this is that the skifields on Ruapehu operate in a National Park, the Dual-World-Heritage National Park on an active volcano with tough weather. And in particular, the concession renewals come around every thirty years and they'll be decided, particularly the ones that are in play now, they'll be decided by kids that are at Raetihi, Turangi, and Tokaanu right now growing up.
If the skifields are sold into private hands, the prices of the lift passes are doubled and it turns into a plaything for rich, then the local community is just going to feel like, "Oh, well, this isn't the mountain for me. This isn't something I feel connected to. This isn't giving us the kind of employment opportunities we want."
And when those concession renewals come around in thirty years time, then there's a real chance that we'll lose the ability to ski on the mountain at all.
Yeah, that that'd be a real shame.
The interview (3 mins) is available on the NewstalkZB Website: Locals concerned over how transparent MBIE is being about Ruapehu offers