Mahia abuzz with new activity

By Anneke Smith

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BOOM: Mahia is set for an economic boom due to Rocket Lab's base in the area. PHOTO BIL SHORTT
BOOM: Mahia is set for an economic boom due to Rocket Lab's base in the area. PHOTO BIL SHORTT

Mahia Penninsula's increasing house prices and world-first private rocket launch site have drawn new energy into the area.

Mahia resident Bill Shortt said the Mahia community has been "humming" with new residents, building projects and Rocket Lab personnel.

The Westpac Quarterly Economic Overview released earlier this week reported promising house price growth for the Wairoa, with a growth of 10 to 11 per cent over the past 12 months.

Bayleys' Mahia real estate agent Katie Bowen said housing sale rates are better than they have been in a long time, with sales rates up 25%.

"I think it's a flow on effect from the housing boom and it reflects that houses in other areas are less affordable," she said.

Ms Bowen said that some of those involved in the RocketLab project have been renting properties around the area.

Mr Shortt has frequented Mahia since he was a toddler and said there has been a "great feel" about the place since the RocketLab was introduced to the peninsula.

"It's not the sleepy, little hideaway it once was," he said.

Wairoa Council's chief executive officer Fergus Power said he's seen a "very noticeable" lift in the activity levels of the region.

Despite fostering a strong partnership with Rocket Lab, Mr Power said little is known about the extent to which the operations will positively impact Wairoa.

"We essentially wooed Rocket Lab to establish their operations in our districts so it makes sense to capitalise on this opportunity. However, we are cautious about what this will mean for the Wairoa community and will be gathering data during the first three test launches," he said.

Mr Power said the Rocket Lab project has the potential to be a "tremendous catalyst" for the Wairoa tourism industry.

"It's almost inexplicable that in the last 20 to 30 years Wairoa has been a forgotten wonderland. When people see growth, prosperity and high technology they are likely to be attracted to this place," he said.

New Zealanders from as far as Auckland are making moves towards the coastal location for their own slice of paradise.

Ms Bowen said part of Mahia's attraction is it's "relaxed and unpretentious" feel.

"It's a relaxed and friendly seaside community. There are beautiful beaches, great swimming spots and it's safe for children," she said.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said it's "early times yet" and too soon to tell if the RocketLab will have a positive impact on the wider Wairoa district.

However he said Wairoa is a "hell of a lot better with it than without it".

"There's a lot of activity in Mahia and we've had people coming into the information centre to enquire about the where the RocketLab is," he said.

Wairoa Deputy Mayor Denise Eaglesome-Karekare also said the RocketLab's impact on the Wairoa community was still very much a "wait and see game".

"After the first launch we'll know what it will do for the community," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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