New Zealand's most expensive new luxury lodge will add jobs in the Far North and help with critical infrastructure for the ever-expanding tourism sector.
The $60 million-plus Helena Bay was opened just after 1pm today, south of the Bay of Islands.
Winston Peters, Northland MP and NZ First leader, firstly greeted his whanau who he referred to as "my relations" then emphasised the contribution the lodge would make.
"The level of employment is creates is definitely needed in this part of the world," Peters told more than 100 Ngati Wai iwi, guests, lodge staff and others invited to the seafront property's opening.
Kevin Bowler, Tourism NZ's chief executive until the end of this week, cut the ribbon at the main front door.
"This is a magnificent - would you call it a whare? - whare or building.
It will add more value to the tourism sector which is already New Zealand's largest export sector employer. Helena Bay Lodge is a testament to the confidence in the sector and very, very strong forward numbers," Bowler said.
He told how his first event in his current role seven years ago was in Northland and the lodge's opening would be the last formal event he attended.
Chris Seel, Helena Bay Holdings managing director, said the new Northland property joined an exclusive list of top tourism accommodation including Kauri Cliffs, Wharekauhau and Huka Lodge.
"We're looking to make our contribution to tourism and the community," Seel said, citing nearly 50 staff working at the lodge, managed by Neil McFarlane.
Seel told of the lodge's development, how 110 people had worked on its construction at one point, the number of locals it had employed and would contnue to employ as most staff are from the local area.
A powheri from Ngai Wai opened the formal proceedings in driving rain, then guests were invited into the main building for canapés, Cloudy Bay Pelorus and Palliser Bay wine.
The lodge opens for guests from November 1.