The New Zealand Government is planning to upgrade the Whenuapai Air Field at RNZAF Base Auckland, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp confirmed.

“National promised retention of Whenuapai as an operational air base. This project is part of the resulting programme of essential works. It will give the base a new lease of life,” he said.

“The work will improve operating conditions for the maritime and transport aircraft that operate from Whenuapai and enhance the safety and reliability of the airfield infrastructure,” he added.

The $24m contract has been awarded to Fulton Hogan Auckland and includes a main runway and taxiways upgrade, improved stormwater drainage and installation of new airfield lighting.

Whenuapai Air Field is home to No 5 Squadron’s P-3K Orion aircraft, No 6 Squadron’s Seasprite helicopters as well as Boeing 757 and C130 Hercules aircraft of No 40 Squadron.

Work will begin this month and extend over two earthworks construction seasons before expected completion in May 2012.