Whakatane’s new Marine Precinct going through funding process

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Whakatane’s ambitious project to create a new boat harbour on the Whakatane River has been advancing its investigative works in preparation for filing its resource consent application in the next month or so.

Despite the elimination from parliament of Shane Jones, his leader Winston Peters and their party at the last election, the party’s Provincial Growth Fund commitment under the name of the new government entity known as Kānoa continues as a partner with Council and local iwi to fund what will likely become the first iwi/Māori owned marina facility in New Zealand.

Phil Wardale, who was responsible for pulling together Tauranga’s Marine Precinct, took up the Project Director’s role in Whakatane with his team to advise and deliver the project.

The yet-to-be-named Boat Harbour will be located adjacent to the river, on 10 ha of Māori owned land that has been unproductive for decades. Bay of Plenty Business News profiled the project in the July/August issue.

“The aim was to deliver more commercial berthage, and other much needed marine infrastructure,” Wardale told BOP Business News.

Maori land contribution

“When we first got involved, the idea was to try and get more berths alongside the river in town. But we ended up identifying a much larger plot of Māori land up the river.”

Of the funding, $19.6 million has been provided by the Provincial Growth Fund for the build of the boat harbour, and $9.8 million is being contributed by Whakatane District Council. Wardale described the project as a “transformational partnership” between the Te Rāhui Lands Trust, the Crown, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited, and the Whakatāne District Council. There are currently more than 1000 beneficial owners of the Māori land block.

Wardale told BOP Business News that the project partners had yet to announce the name of the Boat Harbour, or the final makeup of the transformation partnership, which is scheduled to be announced during community conversations ahead of the filing of the resource consent application in October.

“The first big task is to secure the resource consent for the development and we have been underway with the investigative works and drafting of the consent application for all of 2021, and once the partnership is formally
announced we will file the application.”

Wardale, who has been trapped in Auckland while the latest lockdown was on, noted that even in his original programme he had not been expecting major construction works would commence before the end of 2021.

He said he looked forward to returning to Whakatane and engaging with the community on the final plans ahead of starting the process to source and select the civil works contractor to build the $25 million project.

“Government and its many regional and national agencies have been very supportive to date,” he said, adding that usually when government commits to contribute to something there weren’t too many holdups.

Wardale told BOP Business News previously that the new boat harbour would provide commercial boat operators and boat builders such as Extreme Boats on the East Coast with access to new facilities and new modern out of river berths, while increasing economic returns and providing opportunities for the local community.

The Provincial Growth Fund had been all about helping regions grow, and this was a perfect example he said.

Wardale said his company and team was busy across the country despite the lockdowns, with a large project in Wellington, two projects in Nelson and a PGF project in Wanganui that was similar in size and complexity to Whakatane.

“We’re not sitting on our hands and are busy working with local government to plan or deliver new waterfront infrastructure in several towns and cities across the country.”

Read: Is it time to reset the Marine Precinct?

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