Resource consent granted for the port of Whakatāne

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Excitement is growing for Whakatāne’s future as resource consent is granted for the proposed $ 29 million boat port, Te Rāhui Herenga Waka Whakatāne.

Port of Te Rāhui Herenga Waka Whakatāne.
Photo: LDR

Approval of the project by the Environmental Protection Authority – Te Mana Rauhī Taiao was announced this week.

The news was welcomed by the partnership behind the project and the Eastern Bay business community.

The resource authorization process was a major hurdle to overcome before the first phase of the project, the creation of 70 new commercial berths on the Māori trust land in Keepa Road, could move forward.

Partnership President John Rae said the project team worked closely with stakeholders to address the lack of maritime infrastructure in the city and provide an opportunity to the region through the maritime and tourism industries.

“Now our role is to ensure that, through good governance and planning, Te Rāhui Herenga Waka achieves the strategic objectives of the project for its four partners: Te Rāhui Lands Trust, Whakatāne District Council, Government’s Provincial Growth Fund and Ngāti Awa Group Holdings. . “

He said the project was “a very good environmental proposition”.

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Te Rāhui Lands Trust President Brian Simpson said sustainability considerations have been at the fore since the beginning, including the human and environmental aspects of sustainability.

“The seaport will begin restoring both the river’s mauri and the well-being of our people through employment and training opportunities, for future generations,” he said.

Whakatāne Mayor Judy Turner said the construction and operation of the marina would require the involvement of people within the district.

“We are excited about what this means for the future,” he said. “It enables the region to host a commercial maritime hub that will create long-term employment opportunities in the maritime and tourism sectors and provide critical infrastructure … to support ongoing activities in Whakatāne.

“Now we have the approval of the resource consensus, we want people to continue to learn more about the need for such a project in Whakatāne and why the municipality has used the Harbor Endowment Portfolio to co-finance the development together with the central government.

“The project will need people to manage the boats, to repair the boats, to work on the shipyard, on the docks, in the maritime training center, to produce and supply ice, to help operate the filling station and to work in any food and beverage business that opens. We anticipate that it will lead to hundreds of associated jobs over the next few years. “

The partnership expects the project to create the equivalent of at least 30 full-time jobs during its construction and, in the long term, up to 600 new jobs and continuous-flow economic benefits.

Project director Phil Wardale said that although he never celebrated until a project was completed, he was looking forward to moving on to the next phase of the project, engaging with local contractors, which he planned to begin in August.

“I’m certainly looking to use local contractors wherever possible, even if it means working with them to help develop their capabilities.”

He said the accelerated consensus process helped the region by providing certainty on timing.

“We thank all presenters who responded to the EPA’s request for their views on the project,” he said. “Many contributed their knowledge of the area, which helped us refine the design of the project to ensure it works at a very high level, particularly in relation to environmental issues regarding local water quality and ecology. “.

Kānoa, the regional unit for economic development and investment of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, is providing $ 19.6 million in funding for the project. Another $ 9.8 million is funded by the district council through the Harbor Endowment Fund.

Subject to construction timelines, the first boats could move in early 2025.

A robust package of over 100 consensus conditions has been placed on the project, which includes the creation of a project reference group, a tangata whenua liaison group and a community liaison group, all of which will be established over the next six weeks. . The community can read more about belonging to these various groups on the website.

The proposed port already benefits the city

Whakatāne boat builder Glenn Shaw said the new boat harbor had started bringing additional jobs and opportunities to Whakatāne before it was even built.

“This is wonderful news for Whakatāne,” he said of this week’s announcement that resource consent had been granted. “There have been people who have been trying to have a marina built for Whakatāne since the mid-1970s.

“I know there are some doubters, but it is environmentally friendly and there is a lot of work that will come out of it. They have provided some predictions of what they might be and I agree that it is completely achievable.”

He said his business, Extreme Boats, had already hired more staff and was training many apprentices.

“We form two groups of about 12 apprentices, two days a week. They are all local people, many of them Ngāti Awa.”

Extreme Boats, located just outside of town, has been building aluminum trailer boats for the past 20 years and has recently developed a second brand, Legacy Marine, building larger luxury motor yachts from 30 to 70 feet.

He said customers had paid deposits on seven Legacy boats before commercialization had even begun.

It was a job that Whakatāne would have missed if the boat harbor, with its boat lift, hadn’t gone ahead, as that part of the business could not have functioned successfully without a facility of this nature.

“We actually thought of moving it to Tauranga, where there are endless marinas, travel lifts and service facilities. It reduces the cost of getting boats on the water, but also improves workability and our ability to serve them once they are in. sea ​​water, and to teach that work to Whakatāne.

“I can’t stress enough how great this is for Whakatāne. The construction alone is huge. It is fully funded, there is no cost to the Whakatane locals, the land is not really used for anything at the moment. It’s a win. really win “.

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


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