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Mahuta opens Auckland Airport's new arrival hall

Nanaia Mahuta

3 April, 2008
Nanaia Mahuta opens Auckland Airport's new arrival hall

Speech Notes for Customs Minister Nanaia Mahuta, at the opening of Auckland Airport 3A Development, Auckland on Thursday 3 April 2008 at 10.30am

Minister Annette King, Manukau City Council Chief Executive Leigh Auton who is here on behalf of Mayor Len Brown, stakeholder groups – BARNZ, DFS, border agencies, Hawkins Construction and the many guests who have joined us here this morning. Teenaa Koutou.

I want to particularly acknowledge Auckland Airport chairman Tony Frankham, Chief Executive Don Huse and their hard working team who have made this occasion possible.

I’m pleased to be here representing the Government to open this new addition to Auckland Airport. The Government has its eye firmly fixed on Auckland as our major international city, and the gateway to our great country. We are literally standing at the entrance to that gateway and many stakeholders want to ensure it is imbued with a distinct Aotearoa/New Zealand feel to it.

At the airport, Customs, alongside other border agencies, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Immigration, Police and Aviation Security, have a huge responsibility in ensuring the security of our border protecting our biodiversity and efficient facilitation of travellers.

First impressions count and so often people working in border are perceived as the face of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

While a simple ‘Kia Ora’ distinguishes our country from the rest of the world, our commitment to protecting our shores from biosecurity threats send an equally strong message – we have a beautiful country and landscape with a rich cultural heritage.

Customs has undertaken research to set its passenger processing times. Targets have been set; the aim is to get 90% of passengers through in 45 minutes or less, and 98% within 60. The layout and design of the 3A development will assist in meeting these objectives.

For New Zealanders returning home, often the expectation is much higher and we need to be attuned to what shapes this expectation – after all, our country is second to none and in relative terms our quality of life is great. So the international ranking of third for Auckland Airport, in the Airport Service Quality Awards survey managed by Airports Council International, clearly marks our place alongside other international airports and Auckland Airport should be congratulated on this achievement.

More than 70% of all international arrivals and departures made through Auckland, it’s vital that our first impression at this airport is a good one.

As soon as you arrive onto the tarmac, step off the plane and move into the arrivals area, you know you can’t be anywhere else in the world but in New Zealand.

Now there may be some sensitivity about tukutuku designs, which traditionally adorn the walls of a meeting house, being depicted as designs on the carpet, but if we are trying to create an impression, one might easily come to the conclusion that we tread on this land (and literally on this carpet) which is deeply immersed in Maaori culture – found nowhere else in the world except here.

Many airports across the world have high-tech, modern infrastructure, but what makes this one unique is that it weaves our indigenous culture and aspects of our history into the bricks and mortar.

The new arrival hall features a substantially increased number of booths – from 28 in the old area on the ground floor, to 44 here. That includes a new, more accessible double booth to give travellers in wheelchairs for example, easier access where it is required.

So the aim is to maintain and improve the high level of service provided here, especially at peak times for flight arrivals, as the number of arrivals continues to increase.

Another key feature of this new area is a new control room shared with border agencies with state of the art technology to assist officers.

This is only the first stage of this development. The next stage will be to revamp the baggage hall downstairs where more space has been created with the movement of the primary processing line up to here. That is due to open in July. This activity combined with border agencies looking to improve passenger facilitation services, should ensure that we are able to respond to the projected growth expected for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

To the Airport Company, border agencies, stakeholder groups, building contractors and architects, it’s my pleasure to open the first phase of project 3A – the new arrivals hall.


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