top of page

Owning our future From Leigh Hopper and Peter Abrahamson

Q. Not everyone is familiar with the history of the Whitianga Waterways - visitors might know nothing at all as to how and why it became a reality.

A. The location of unique topographical features of Whitianga and Mercury Bay has been a driving factor to allow Whitianga Waterways to grow and develop a wide variety of opportunities and offerings. all Initially the comprehensive plans for Whitianga Waterways began in 1996 when a proposition was put to a number of landowners to form a joint venture to develop a canal subdivision on land that was proving to be uneconomical for dairy farming. Stage One kicked off in 2000 and progress has been steady, driven by buyer demand ever since.

As to what Whitianga could become, the vision emanated after flying over Whitianga countless times during the process of constructing Pauanui Waterways. Pauanui Waterways being first comprehensive coastal project of its kind in New Zealand - and the basic model to base Whitianga Waterways. “With business interests in Auckland, and Pauanui Waterways in progression, I would regularly fly between the office in Orewa and Pauanui, sighting Whitianga below as I went along my route. The opportunity of replicating a waterways-style development at Whitianga was clearly evident from aloft. So in 1997, we purchased a strategic 73ha landholding in the flat lands of Whitianga and put a joint venture proposition to four adjoining land owners. Deal done; a new company 'Whitianga Waterways Ltd' was formed.

The economy was flat when we came, but rolling out this development and delivering on that, builds confidence in the market and in our customers and in the business. The environment and amenities speak for themselves. People are outlaying a lot of money in pursuit of a better life style and a better place to live. We want to provide that at a number of levels. The consequence of that however is that property values go up. The principles of supply and demand come to play because there is a limited amount of places available. The prices of all of the properties have also gone up to the extent that the workforce on low wages can’t afford to buy a house here. Everywhere you get a good development like this, you get this situation. It’s a product, a consequence, of doing good development.

Practical plans for the near future

Our commitment and aim is to carry on here in Whitianga. There are many stages of the development completed, but more still to go. “Really, the best is yet to come.”says Leigh.

Medical Centre – see page

Retirement Village The initial works for the Retirement Village are currently underway. This will be the fourth retirement village developed under the Hopper Living brand. What the village aims to offer is a certain level of care to satisfy the growing needs of the ageing population in the region. “We wish to provide a number of different retirement living options, within a setting where residents can maximise their retirement lifestyle,” says


Dockside will offer a unique retail experience. Stage one which is due for completion third quarter of 2023, will encompass a Restaurant/Café with indoor/outdoor dining all with a waterfront aspect. Alongside this, the second building will become home to the new Whitianga Waterways Sales Office the location giving access by car, bike, foot or boat.

New Concert and Event Park: To complete this project, circa 280,000 cubic metres of surplus top soil has to be removed for the developments. “We can go and put this on a farm somewhere, but we have proposed for the same outlay, to build a new concert park event facility on council land to become a major amenity asset. An agreement with the council was entered into with council undertaking some associated infrastructure.” The plans actually include two arenas with a stage in the middle. All of this will lend itself to a range of events including car shows, galas and of course, concerts in addition to the Summer Concert. The costs of construction including, transport, formation and grassing is on Whitianga Waterways Ltd and is estimated to cost $6m. This new public asset – will secure the national stage, putting Whitianga on the map as an event destination, in unison with the likes of other notable local events, the Kubota Billfish Competition, and the Oceans Festival.

(On page two adjacent, is the announcement that for January 2024, the Summer Concert will not be held in Whitianga but in Hamilton. This is a temporary measure while we wait for the new bridge on SH 25A)

“Every business must pursue a profit. There is nothing wrong with that. Why else would you risk your business? The Government must accept responsibility and they should be encouraging the message that people have to make a profit. Instead, the tax burden tends to get targeted to entrepreneurs and employers. They are killing the golden goose. Capital and entrepreneurs are heading off-shore.” Leigh Hopper

“There is a systemic waning in terms of capital development and a declining prosperity through a loss of productivity in New Zealand. We are more computerised and digitised; we have creative edge people in many forefront areas of development; yet our productivity has not increased. The current government (but they cannot bear all of the responsibility) has increased the public sector workforce by 14,000. It is simply out of balance. Outcomes are so far behind expenditure and the promises outlining intentions.” Leigh Hopper

bottom of page