A Northland rural paradise is about to sprout 8-metre high satellites after Southland's development and tourism agency rolled out plans for a base to communicate with spacecraft.
Great South, wants to build the satellite ground station with more than a dozen dishes on Sandford Rd in Ruakākā next to State Highway 1.
If it goes ahead, it will complement a similar satellite farm near Invercargill and be used to communicate, control and monitor spacecraft as far as 2400km away.
A public meeting on the subject revealed growing opposition from Bream Bay locals concerned the satellite station will mean their properties drop in value, and suggesting less populated places could host the dishes.
Concerned residents didn't believe Great South had adequately communicated its plans to the community. Some had received flyers in letter boxes and others learned through neighbours or on social media.
The plan emerged after One Tree Pt-based truck and digger driver Brian Nash agreed to sell 9ha for the satellite station.
Gerry Marshall, whose land borders the block earmarked for the satellite station, said it was devastating to have the domes in a rural area right beside a busy state highway.
"When we started talking to people, we realised their concerns and the fact something needs to be done. The more we reached out, the more support we received."
His neighbour Barry Beston said people were unaware of the proposed station and called on the Whangārei District Council to publicly notify any resource consent application lodged by Great South.
"All these houses here have got certain conditions if we want to build, add, or subdivide land so how come the dish complies?"
The public meeting heard from one resident who warned the satellite farm would "affect the wider Ruakākā area, not for days, not for months [but] for years to come".
"Stigma and perception are proven to have insurmountable effect on decision-making, from where you will live, what you will look at, to where you child will go to school," they said at the public meeting.
Nash said those upset by the plan had an easy solution - buy Great South out.
"No money has changed hands so they can come down the hill and buy my land. I don't know what they are griping about. I have no gripe with my neighbours and if they want to do anything with their land, that's their business."
Nash said the land was leased to a dairy farmer who made silage and grew corn on it.
Great South claims the proposed ground station would diversify existing economic activities in Northland, create jobs for local businesses through construction and maintenance, and provide educational opportunities for students via tours, and high-speed broadband connectivity for the whole region.
Great South chief executive Graham Budd said his office was still in the early days of planning the satellite ground station. He said the agency would continued to engage with the community and was open to receiving feedback.
"We will be holding a community meeting in the New Year when we have more information available to share."
Great South said Northland was selected as the best location because it gave ground stations at either end of New Zealand and maximised its ability to gather data as satellites passed overhead.
If given the green light, the Ruakākā station would complement the Awarua and Lochiel stations in Southland.
The council's resource consents team had a pre-application meeting about a month ago with Great South, which has yet to submit a resource consent application.
"A decision on whether notification is required - or if there are any affected parties - will be made after the application is received. That's the point at which we can assess it against the criteria the District Plan contains regarding notification," spokeswoman Ann Midson said.
She said the council has already had a few inquiries from locals.
The council has not been told when a resource consent application would be lodged, she said.