New $29m Whakatāne Marina Accelerated

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Fast-track consent made available for Provincial Growth Fund projects could see work start on a $29.4 million marina in Whakatāne by mid-year.

The first stage of development will provide berths for approximately 60 commercial vessels and a travel lift.
Photo: Supplied / Wardale Marine Industry Consulting

Named Te Rāhui Herenga Waka, the marina is to be built through a partnership between landowners Te Rāhui Lands Trust, Whakatāne District Council, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings and the Crown, which was formalized yesterday.

The new marina will provide commercial boat operators with access to better facilities and more berths while increasing economic returns to the community.

Representatives of the Te Rāhui Lands Trust met with East Coast MP Kiri Allan last week.  Pictured are Charles Bluett, Kiri Allan, Brian Simpson, Te Arani Barrett and Dayle Hunia.

Representatives of the Te Rāhui Lands Trust met with East Coast MP Kiri Allan last week. Pictured are Charles Bluett, Kiri Allan, Brian Simpson, Te Arani Barrett and Dayle Hunia.
Photo: Supplied / Wardale Marine Industry Consulting

Funding of $19.6 million has been provided by the Crown through Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit – for the construction of the marina, and $9.8 million is to be provided by the council of the Whakatāne district, Te Rāhui Lands Trust providing the site.

Project manager Phil Wardale of Wardale Marine Industry Consulting, who was the first to recognize the site’s potential, said the group had obtained approval to use the fast-track consent pathway provided by the Department of the Environment for Covid-19 recovery projects.

Wardale said the project would create the equivalent of at least 30 full-time jobs during its construction and, in the longer term, is expected to create more than 600 new jobs and economic benefits for Whakatāne.

As part of the project, areas of wetlands will be restored and improvements will be made for public and recreational use of the Wairaka area, where boats are now moored.

He said that from his first meeting with members of the Te Rāhui Lands Trust, they saw the potential of the project.

Te Rāhui Lands Trust chairman Brian Simpson said the project would restore the river’s connections and mauri for future generations and deliver key results for the trust.

“The project has enabled us as kaitiaki to use our whenua in a way that respects and protects the dynamic river environment and provides jobs and training for our owners and the Ngāti Awa.”

Simpson recognized East Coast MP Kiri Allan as a key player in supporting trust and partners to reach a deal. “We recently met Kiritapu Allan and were delighted to share the news that the partnership has been officially established between Te Rāhui Lands Trust, Whakatāne District Council, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings and the Crown through Kānoa – Regional Economic Development Unit and investment.”

Allan said the formalization of the partnership represents an important step in the economic development of the region.

“I commend the partners for the hard work to date and look forward to seeing the project come to fruition,” she said.

Whakatāne Mayor Judy Turner said the council has long supported the development of a new marina.

“[It will] further unlock opportunities in our local maritime and tourism sectors and generate wider economic, social and environmental benefits.

“The project forms a key part of our district’s economic development strategy, which is further amplified by our need to respond to Covid and its impacts. This unique partnership represents a new and exciting way to deliver basic infrastructure in our region.

Wardale said the fast-track consent pathway, which allowed for a more streamlined consent approval process, was designed to support New Zealand’s recovery from the economic and social impacts of Covid-19.

“Fast-tracking the consent request means review and processing times are condensed. This means it is up to us as a project team to ensure that we have provided a robust and thoughtful that answers any questions that may arise.”

He said the expedited consent process guaranteed the deadline within 72 business days. Although there would likely not be an open consultation process, stakeholder groups would be consulted.

Wardale told the tag he had spent considerable time with relevant stakeholders, including environmental groups such as Forest and Bird and the Whakatāne Harbor Care Group, when preparing the consent request.

Community engagement will continue as the project progresses through the consent process. Subject to receipt of permits, construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2022.

Future possibilities

The site has the potential to accommodate a marina, boat launch and other businesses. Currently it is not funded, but it is hoped that it will be built after the first stages are completed and according to demand.

Project manager Phil Wardale said the first stage of Te Rāhui Herena Waka is expected to take about two years once work begins.

It would provide mooring facilities for approximately 60 commercial vessels of 14 to 30 meters, working as commercial charterers and in aquaculture and fisheries.

It will also offer an 80-100 ton capacity travel lift, providing a new option for vessels to haul and service. In a next stage of the project, it is proposed to develop a berth for pleasure boats, a launching ramp and additional commercial premises.

There will also be a new maritime training school on site to provide skilled workers to existing and new businesses in Whakatāne’s maritime industry. This already includes New Zealand’s largest and most successful aluminum boat builders, Extreme Boats and Surtees Boats.

The port project aims to eventually provide 800 jobs, including 218 existing jobs in Whakatāne’s maritime and tourism industries. About 30 people will be involved full-time in its construction, many of them Ngāti Awa, who will be requalified or upgraded through training providers to support the project contractors.

The majority of products used in construction will be made in New Zealand – from Whakatāne or its neighboring regions where possible – to support the country’s recovery.

The project will have an immediate improvement in local water quality. Several riverside berths will be removed once the boat harbor is completed. Removing these vessels will improve and restore the flow of the river. The project will also include the restoration of an area of ​​land northeast of the site to create nearly one hectare of restored wetland adjacent to the river.

The design of the project had to take into account the dynamic river environment as well as sea level rise and likely impacts on global warming.

Vessels located in the marina will also have access to sewage disposal at the dockside – all but eliminating the need to dispose of it at sea. Additionally, stormwater treatment will improve discharges from both runoff and boat maintenance activities, and plant dykes will contribute to a natural ecological balance as well as water filtration.

Before Te Rāhui Herenga Waka is developed, the removal of material from historical activities will be undertaken. Materials will be carefully reused in earthworks or disposed of appropriately.

Local Democracy Reporting is public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air

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