Wellington and Wairarapa gliding enthusiasts shook hands with their South Wairarapa neighbours, Papawai, on Saturday as the Greytown Soaring Centre's new hangar was blessed and opened by South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples.

The hangar is the start of what is hoped to become a Wairarapa-based gliding centre of excellence, centred around the partnership of Wellington Gliding and Gliding Wairarapa clubs. The hangar and fields beside Papawai are now the home for the Wellington Gliding Club, that had to relocate from Paraparaumu.

Greytown Soaring Centre president Grae Harrison said it was a "historic day" and five years in the planning. He acknowledged the support of South Wairarapa District Council, saying chief executive Paul Crimp had been "the catalyst for making this happen". The airstrip is on land purchased by the council to irrigate its waste water.

Paora Ammunson, chairman of Papawai Marae, said it was a "really significant development" for Papawai.

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