New Zealanders bought a beach; now we need them to save a mountain.

Ruapehu Skifields Stakeholders Association (RSSA)

Press Release – 12th April 2023

New Zealanders bought a beach; now we need them to save a mountain.

The first stage of a crowdfunding campaign to keep Mt Ruapehu’s slopes in public hands has today been launched by a group of the mountain’s life pass holders and supporters.

Inspired by the successful public purchase of a South Island beach in 2016, the Ruapehu Ski Fields Stakeholders Association (RSSA) is calling on all fellow life pass holders, community, Iwi, businesses, holiday home owners, skiers, boarders, season & day pass holders, hikers, clubbies, tourists & the public who have a connection to the maunga to initially join the RSSA to ensure a unified voice to help keep the Whakapapa and Tūroa skifields in community ownership.

“The meeting to decide the fate of the ski fields is now only six weeks away (9th May),” said Jason Platt, Chairman of the RSSA. “We are calling on our 14,000 fellow life pass holders and all other Stakeholders to join the RSSA to ensure we have a unified and powerful voice to help keep Tūroa and Whakapapa facilities in community ownership for the benefit of future generations.”

The independent not-for-profit organisation Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Limited (RAL) ran the operations on the maunga for 70 years before debt, exacerbated by Covid and weather-related closures, led it into voluntary administration under Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) in October 2022. Life pass holders, who make up the largest group of creditors of RAL are being asked to mobilise to save our treasured Mt Ruapehu ski fields keeping them in community ownership. Over the years nearly $40 Million has been raised selling life passes to committed Ruapehu skiers and boarders

Since then, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has provided additional funding to PwC to allow RAL to continue to trade until the start of the 2023 winter season and to provide time or a long-term plan to be formulated. All creditors, which includes Life Pass Holders, will vote on a plan on May 9.

Two alternative plans for the future of the maunga have so far been proposed, both of which would see the mountain’s facilities move into private ownership.

The RSSA favours a community ownership model where profits are reinvested into maintaining and developing the public areas, not paid out in dividends. They also want to see a revised constitution and structure put in place and new directors appointed to the RAL Board to better represent the key stakeholders including Ruapehu District Council, local businesses, Iwi, clubs, Department Of Conservation and mountain users. This will help ensure transparency and good governance.

“Surveys tell us the community has a strong preference to retain both ski fields as community owned operations. The vision for the RSSA is to have the operations owned by the community and mana whenua. Ruapehu is part of Tongariro National Park; together we can ensure its facilities stay in public hands just as Kiwis did with Awaroa Inlet in the Abel Tasman National Park.”

The first stage of the efforts to save the maunga is the formation of RSSA to represent the interests of all mountain users. This will be followed by the launch of a nationwide crowd funding campaign.

Join the RSSA today and help us save the Maunga:

We would ask that you join the Association today, it’s a small $10 membership fee and the more LPH that join the more influence and options we have to save the ski fields and represent you.

For more information

Mike Jones
Vice Chairman RSSA
021 772 557