RM Journal

Milford Opportunities Project: Masterplanning to realise an ambitious vision


Authors: Russell Halliday (Stantec), Programme Manager, and Tim Church (Boffa Miskell), Masterplan Lead

Contributors: Ailsa Cain (Kauati) and Craig Jones (Visitor Solutions)

Tangata Whenua exercise mana whenua over their ancestral lands; however, with that comes responsibilities. We must remember that people are part of the environment, and like the environment must be provided for – in other words, manaakitanga. A huge amount of mahi has gone into understanding the needs of people and place.
Masterplan Foreword – Michael R Skerrett QSM, JP, Hon SIT Fellow, Kaumatua


Milford Sound Piopiotahi had become “crowded, rushed, noisy and unsafe” as Dr Keith Turner, the Milford Opportunities Governance Group’s chair, succinctly noted. Dig a little deeper and it becomes apparent that these immediate challenges were set in the context of piecemeal and incremental development creep over the longer term, much like the glaciers that originally formed this iconic landscape.

To address these shortcomings the Milford Opportunities Project (MOP) Masterplan was created. The Masterplan was developed from years of strategic planning and creative design practices to help shape the future of Milford Sound Piopiotahi. Developing this Masterplan required significant collaboration and consultation between numerous stakeholders to meet and exceed the diverse expectations, particularly around economic growth, recreation, tourism, environment, and conservation.

The Governance Group set an ambitious vision for the project – “Piopiotahi – New Zealand as it was, forever.”

For our Stantec and Boffa Miskell lead team, the impact of the February 2020 storm events and Covid-19 dramatically marked the formative stages of the Masterplan process. It sharpened a focus on the need for meaningful change. On top of working within tight time and budget constraints, our team faced significant challenges, respectfully navigating local engagement processes with a community experiencing enormous and abrupt changes.

It was not sufficient to simply “plaster over the cracks” to deliver on the Governance Group’s Vision and the Seven Pillars but to take a more fundamental, systems-based approach. This approach meant considering the broader context of the Milford Corridor, all the way back to Te Anau, and reviewing how this extraordinary place is governed and managed.

Read the full article