Turoa Licence Renewal

A message from Murray Gribben, Chair; and Dave Mazey CEO of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd.

The Minister of Conservation gives notice of her intention to grant a 60 year concession consisting of an initial term of 25 years plus 1 extension of 10 years and 5 extensions of five years each, under section 17Q of the Conservation Act 1987 to Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Limited for a licence to occupy Turoa Ski Area, Ruapehu.

This is now publicly notified with the deadline for submissions being 5:00pm, Friday 4th November 2016.

We would like to encourage you to have a say on the draft licence and support our ability to continue to operate. The public notification period ends at 5.00pm on Friday 4th November 2016 and we would appreciate you providing your positive support for a licence renewal so we can continue to operate New Zealand’s most enjoyed ski field and re-commence investment in our infrastructure and services with certainty in our future. 

To make it as easy as possible for you to write your submission you will find here: 
1.    RAL’s media release
2.    Background information
3.    Details on how to make a submission
4.    A template submission
5.    Q&As
6.    Reports

If you have queries which you would like answered before completing a submission please email LicenceRenewal@mtruapehu.com and we will respond. 

We hope you will submit positively on our application for a licence and we look forward to hearing your views.

Kind regards,

an image                   



Murray Gribben                      Dave Mazey
Chair                                       CEO

Intention to grant a concession to Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd

The Minister of Conservation gives notice of her intention to grant a 60 year concession consisting of an initial term of 25 years plus 1 extension of 10 years and 5 extensions of five years each, under section 17Q of the Conservation Act 1987 to Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Limited for a licence to occupy Turoa Ski Area, Ruapehu.

Individuals, businesses and organisations now have through to 5:00pm, Friday 4th November 2016, to lodge submissions in support or opposition to the application. 

1.    Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd.        Media Release

Monday 19th September 2016

The Minister of Conservation gives notice of her intention to grant a 60 year concession consisting of an initial term of 25 years plus 1 extension of 10 years and 5 extensions of five years each, under section 17Q of the Conservation Act 1987 to Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Limited for a licence to occupy Turoa Ski Area, Ruapehu.

This is now publicly notified with the deadline for submissions being 5:00pm, Friday 4th November 2016.

RAL is delighted to have received this notice regards the granting of a new licence for the company to continue operating the Turoa Ski Field on Mt Ruapehu up to a 60 year term, with an initial 25 years plus one extension of 10 years and five extensions of five years each.

RAL was established in 1953 and has been a constant presence on the mountain since that time contributing to the stewardship of this World Heritage Site, operating both the Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Fields within the Tongariro National Park.

Murray Gribben, Chair of RAL, said: “The licence includes all the existing activities, buildings and structures.  The proposed licence runs for an initial period of 25 years with one extension for a further ten years then five extensions of five years each. This structure enables our performance to be reviewed at regular intervals and is a powerful tool to enable us to provide the necessary ongoing investment in major infrastructure required to operate a ski field to a high standard.

The model we operate under is world-leading and perfect for this important site. We have over 4,000 shareholders, all keen skiers passionate about the mountain, but as a Public Benefit Entity all profits are reinvested in the maintenance and further development of facilities at the ski fields for the benefit of the public and to promote snow sports on Mt Ruapehu.

RAL is a key contributor to employment in the region and contributes $15 million annually to local GDP from its mountain operations as well as substantially boosting the off-mountain economy in regional tourism and recreational activities.
Our operating model not only works well for this location it also means, with no profit-making business imperative from shareholders, we can be prudent financial managers and also focus on preserving and protecting the cultural values and environment within the Tongariro National Park,” Murray Gribben said.

The Turoa Ski Field is an important part of the recreational mix enabling people to enjoy the natural values of the Tongariro National Park, with the ski field occupying less than 1% of the total land area and attracting 20-30% of all visitors.

Murray Gribben said: “Currently with no certainty around the licence we have ceased all capital investment other than that required for health, safety and environmental reasons in order to operate the ski field.  Until the licence is granted the Board is not able to make investment decisions and has had to manage the business in recent years as if it will come to a close in 2022.

“RAL has clear aims and aspirations for the ski field – a high quality tourism product that enhances Tongariro National Park and bring strong value to our communities.

For further information go to our website www.mtruapehu.com/winter/turoa-licence

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2.    Background information/messaging

Background to skiing at Turoa:

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd (RAL):

The Application to continue operating:

Tongariro National Park (TNP):


o    Respect for Mt Ruapehu Respect for Ngati Rangi and Ngati Uenuku’s mana, tino rangatiratanga, kaitakitanga, tikanga and values in respect of Mt Ruapehu.

o    Respect for the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles.

o    Acknowledgement of and support of the ongoing Ngati Rangi and Ngati Uenuku Treaty settlement negotiations and aligning our relationship in accordance with the outcomes of those negotiations. 

o    A strong commitment to a relationship based on good faith, collaboration, open and honest communications and mutual respect and assistance; and 

o    Acknowledgement of the ongoing existence and operation of the Turoa Ski Field, and that RAL will have a long-term relationship with Ngati Rangi and Ngati Uenuku and be a long-term operator of the Turoa Ski Field on Mt Ruapehu. 

Our application:

Current Situation?

Future Plans: 

The impact of our operations within the Tongariro National Park (TNP):

RAL’s Community Contribution:

o    Running a Ruapehu Cadetship Programme:  This six month programme is aimed at developing skills and providing employment opportunities to young adults in the region. 

o    Working with local schools and youth groups to provide affordable lift passes, snow sports instruction and rental equipment: RAL offer heavily discounted (often 70% or more) snow experiences for local schools.

The process:

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3.    Details on how to make a Submission:

Any person or organisation may make a submission in writing to the Director-General in support of the proposal or objecting to the proposal. 

Submissions should include as a minimum the following information:

o    your name, your position in organisation, organisation name, organisation’s purpose, physical address and email address

o    Name and position with club, name of club, physical address and email address, number of members in club.

Your Submission
Your submission must be made before 5.00pm on Friday 4th November 2016, and sent to:
    Department of Conservation
    73 Rostrevor Street
    Private Bag 3072
    Hamilton 3240
    Attention: Deidre Ewart
    Phone: +64 27 7037 198
    Email: TuroaSubmission@doc.govt.nz

Submissions should include the reference 48601-SKI and will be accepted up to and including 5.00pm, Friday 4th November 2016.

Note:  Submitter’s information is subject to the Official Information Act 1982 and submissions are part of the statutory process and may be commented on by the concession applicant.

Any person or organisation wishing to be heard in support of his/her submission to the application must request (in that submission) an opportunity to appear before the Director-General.  If a hearing is required, it is likely to occur during the week starting Monday 21st November 2016.

If you have queries which you would like answered before completing a submission please email LicenceRenewal@mtruapehu.com and we will respond. 

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4.    Template Submission Letter

To make the task of making a submission as easy as possible; we have drafted the following letter with some suggested bullet points for comments in support.  Delete any points you do not want to make, and of course provide your own, or look for further information on our website. 

Microsoft Word DocumentTuroa Licence Renewal - Template Submission Letter
Microsoft Word Document, 13.2 KB

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5.    Question and Answers:

a.    Why apply now when we still have 7 years to go?

With uncertainty over the licence Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Ltd (RAL) could not continue to plan or implement the infrastructure improvements and in recent years we have put all major investment on hold.

b.    Why is the RAL Model Perfect for the Tongariro National Park (TNP)?

The company constitution prevents any dividends or benefit being provided to shareholders, with all financial surpluses being reinvested in the ski areas.

The RAL Trust was created in 1983 to protect the interests of the company and its shareholders and to preserve the company’s integrity for future generations.  The Trust controls 45% of the shares on issue and has a stated aim of “preserving RAL in its current form” with the intention of preventing any individual, group of individuals or organisation from being able to action a takeover of the company.

c.    Who is RAL?

We are well governed and well managed with an experienced team running our operations and a board that brings a wealth of experience and a passion for the ski field and the Tongariro National Park and its environs.

Murray Gribben
Murray joined the Board as a Director in May 2010.  His career started in the military before he moved into the finance sector where his professional career has been in investment banking and investment management.  He is currently Chief Executive of Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd, a fund established to invest in regional scale irrigation infrastructure.  He has held a variety of senior roles within the finance sector both in New Zealand and overseas including Managing Director of AMP Capital Investors.  Previously held governance positions include Deputy Chairman of NZ Post Ltd and Directorships of Kiwibank Ltd, CS Ltd, Donaghys Ltd and Summerset Group Holdings Ltd.  He is currently Chair of the NZ Venture Investment Fund and an advisory trustee of National Army Museum, Waiouru.  Murray has had a long association with Mt Ruapehu and has been skiing on the mountain most of his life.

Duncan Fraser
Duncan joined the Board as a Director in October 2006 and was Chairman from October 2012 to September 2014.  Duncan has had an association with skiing on Mt Ruapehu since childhood and is a past President of Skyline Ski Club.  His professional background is in mechanical engineering and project management.  He is currently Managing Director of Acme Engineering Ltd, a long established heavy engineering business based in Wellington.

Phil Royal
Phil joined the Board as a Director in June 2006.  Phil is a independent Director and former Managing Partner and Board Member of PwC New Zealand.  He has held Directorships and CEO roles with service based organisations such as Virtual Spectator, Summerset Retirement Villages, Chitogel and CGNZ.  He has had significant experience around service orientated businesses and has managed a number of large Global and Government Reform projects across the UK, Australia and new Zealand.  Phil is also current Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee.  Phil and his family have had a long association with the mountain.

Geoff Taylor
Geoff joined the Board in July 2015.  He is a Director and Manager of Dairy Investment Fund Ltd and TDB Advisory Ltd.  Dairy Investment Fund Ltd is a specialized private equity vehicle in the dairy sector and has a range of investments in the Dairy Sector.  TDB is a New Zealand corporate finance and economics advisory business involved in funds management, treasury, economic analysis and public policy.  Geoff is a Director of a number of dairy related businesses and a trustee of NZ Fire Service Superannuation Fund.  Geoff began skiing on the rope tows of Whakapapa, was a member of Christiana Ski Club.

Michelle Trapski
Michelle joined the board in February 2016.  She has extensive experience in the tourism and snow sports industries.  She has over 25 years’ experience in strategy marketing and management and was the CEO of AJ Hackett Bungy for nine years and CEO of Active Adventure Tours for two years.  Michelle is currently a Director of Snow Sports NZ and Glenorchy Marketplace Project/Pounamu Holdings 2014 Ltd.  Michelle has had a long association with Mt Ruapehu and has been skiing on the mountain most of her life.

Debbie Birch
Debbie joined the Board as an advisor in February 2016.  Debbie is GM, Investments at Te Tumu Paeroa (The New Maori Trustee) and is responsible for managing the organisations assets which include dairy farms, investments in the hone and kiwi fruit sectors, investments in vocational training as well as listed equities and bonds.  She has over 30 years’ experience in financial markets including managing global investment portfolios in NZ, Asia and Australia.  Most recently she’s brought this experience into play around Te Tumu Paeroa’s strategy to optimise Maori land and assets including investment across the primary sector.  She is also a Director of a number of dairy farming businesses, a Director of Ngati Awa Group Holdings Ltd, Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd, Farm:Skills Ltd, Manuka Research Partnership Ltd, Manuka Farming (NZ) Ltd, a Trustee of Wellington Free Ambulance and a member of the MfE Audit & Risk Committee.  Her Iwi affiliations are with Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Apa, Ngati Hauiti, and Ngati Rangi, and she is also a member of the Climate Change Iwi Leaders Group.

Dave Mazey
Dave has been in the position of General Manager since 1986, with the title of CEO being adopted in May 2013 in accordance with management structure improvements. Prior to 1986 he held various management positions with DOC and has held Member/Chairman roles in a number of Industry Associations over the past 20 years 
Dave has recently retired from this role, which will take effect from early November 2016, but will continue working with the company, in a consulting capacity, on key projects.  The Board have appointed Ross Copland to take the CEO role from early November 2016.

d.    What do we stand for?
“Around here we:

e.    60 years is a long time – why do we need that and what will ensure we continue to perform well?
The proposal is that the term will always have a period of 25-30 years to run until expiry in 2076. This enables us to make investment decisions based on the ability for the investments to make a suitable return and make them worthwhile to undertake.

We propose that the overarching performance criteria for the renewal rights are categorised as: Conservation, Cultural, and Customer.  These performance criteria will be developed through a process involving Ngati Rangi and Ngati Uenuku as well as the Department of Conservation (DOC).

The benefit to RAL and DOC of the proposed extensions is that it requires performance from RAL in order to meet the proposed performance criteria.  Environmental standards will be tested on an ongoing basis, along with customer and service standards.

RAL operates a business that requires ongoing capital investment that is unlike most other businesses on a limited licence term.

We have proven through our business case and financial information that the investment required to support the ongoing facilities and periodic upgrades and replacement of those facilities requires a term well in excess of 30 years in order to undertake the necessary investment and recoup that investment by generating an acceptable rate of return. 

f.    What about the negative impact of our operations on the environment of the National Park?
RAL has had a Landscape and Ecological Assessment completed by independent experts.

The development of snow making servicing the lower and middle reaches of the ski area have been designed to balance the best utilisation of the current ski boundary and the greater protection of the upper mountain.

In our application we acknowledge earthworks and upgrades on the mountain can adversely affect cultural values.  Over the years, we have changed many aspects of our upgrade plans and operations management to demonstrate respect for the cultural significance of the mountain.  For example, all human effluent is now removed from the mountain for treatment and disposal.

We keep the number of buildings on the mountain at a minimum and limit these to those only required for essential purposes.  Many maintenance activities are undertaken in facilities located outside of Tongariro National Park.

g.    How do our operations impact on the cultural heritage of the Tongariro National Park (TNP)?
We are mindful of the need to better understand and better protect the cultural properties and values of the Maunga in our operation of the ski fields.

Iwi have expectations of participation and partnership in the management of TNP – our proposal for a partnership arrangement should go a long way to addressing this desire in relation to our ski field operations. 

h.    How do RAL’s operations fit in with other plans of the area?
The advice from the staff at DOC is that in relation to terrestrial ecosystems, landscape, historic and heritage (excluding cultural heritage issues) the effects of the proposal will be minimal.
Our application is considered to be consistent with the provisions of the TNP Management Plan. 
Our application is considered to be consistent with the Key Management Principles of the Tongariro Taupo Conservation Management Strategy 2002-2012

i.    How does RAL’s Operations positively contribute to natural disaster management?
The most obvious natural hazard within TNP is volcanic activity and risks from this hazard take two main forms: lahar flows and explosive material such as rock, ash and pumice. On the mountain, buildings and structures and facilities are located in such a way as to minimise the risk of harm in the event of a volcanic event. 

We are also a significant supporter and financial contributor to the Eruption Detection System (EDS) operated by the Department.  The purpose of the EDS is to provide as much warning as possible to visitors to TNP, including the ski field, in the event of a volcanic event. Regular testing of the system, including evacuation drills, are conducted by RAL with the support of DOC.

j.    Is RAL on top of its game?
RAL continue to stay abreast of modern technologies, customer service requirements.
Recent construction, such as the Knoll Ridge Cafe, which replaced the former cafe after an arson attack, has recently been awarded the title of ‘best designed cafe in the world’ by London-based design website ‘Design Curial’ after evaluation of 4000 cafes worldwide. This is in addition to the numerous other architectural awards the cafe has received. 

Over recent years we have also decreased the volume of fuel storage capacity from what we are allowed to have. 

k.    What about the recent contamination with the diesel spill?
We deeply regret the recent spill that occurred on the Turoa Ski Field.  The systems and procedures that have been put in place since this event make us confident that there will not be a repeat event. The tank that failed was fully compliant, had been approved for installation and reflected best practise standards when it was installed.  The component of the tank which failed and caused the spill was a modification which proved to be poorly designed and poorly installed.  The company which undertook this work was also prosecuted. 

If you have any other questions, please visit our online discussion forum.

Online Discussion Forum

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7.    Reports


Licence and Application

Note:  This is a very large file and may take some time to download.

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