Whanganui Port Revitalisation commended

With specialist support from WARDALE, Whanganui District Council was excited last week to release a new concept image of the Port redevelopment, part of Te Pūwaha: the Whanganui Port revitalisation project. This is the first iteration of this concept, designed closely with Q West, to support wider conversation across our community.

Whanganui District Council interim chief executive, Lance Kennedy, says, “We are looking forward to generating discussions around the concept with the community”.

Te Pūwaha is being progressed through a Te Awa Tupua lens as a consequence of 2017 legislation recognising the Whanganui River as a living and indivisible whole, inclusive of hapū and the community at large working collaboratively in real time on the project’s direction and execution. To that end Te Mata Puau, a collective of hapu, is working at the centre of the project which in all facets must align with Tupua Te Kawa, the innate values of Te Awa Tupua.

The concept image shows sections of refurbished wharves two and three, along with the centrally located vessel hoist runway which will be used for the retrieval and replacement of boats from the awa. The council’s marine hardstand is shown with boats undergoing maintenance - and to the rear of the image is Q-West’s proposed new boat building facility.

Last year, planners and specialists (including hapū) worked with project partners to inform the wharf build consent and the designs for the new marine precinct, including the Q-West Boat Builders development. Investigations took place on land and beneath water (including a survey of the seabed) to advise on ecology, marine life, biosecurity, the content of river sediment and soil contamination.

The concept of abundance underpins the work of Te Pūwaha and specialists drew on this, in what they said was over and above the usual approach for infrastructure projects. This included ecologists advising how the project can restore native marine life and encourage new habitats for coastal flora and fauna, as opposed to simply reducing risks to what is already there.

EOS Ecology, principal scientist, Shelley McMurtrie, says, “So often projects simply look at how to avoid, remedy or mitigate any potential effects, whereas this project has turned things on its head, empowering us all to consider opportunities to achieve abundance. It is both refreshing, challenging and deeply rewarding.”

Experts also advised on designs for infrastructure, including the marine hardstand and a water treatment solution that appear in the new concept image released by the council.

Industrial Waters Solutions Group, water treatment specialist, Jim Maddock, says, “Careful development of commercial and industrial opportunities can take place with minimal environmental impact, as long as significant effort is put into the environmental controls at the initial design stage. I believe this outcome can be achieved for Te Pūwaha.”

Lance Kennedy, says, “The council values the contribution of these specialists and also the leadership of the hapū. Their input means we can put forward a robust consent and ultimately create a port that will bring real benefits for the river environment, and for the community.”

The council is now excited to continue working with the community and key stakeholders interested in the port redevelopment concept.

Lance Kennedy says, “Working in a more collaborative way through this project is setting a new norm for the council”.

“This concept plan is one component of a much larger plan we need to co-design with our community. The council will be shortly applying for a consent for dredging activities and to develop the proposed reclamation and wetlands. Traditionally we would wait to notify through the regional council’s formal channels, but would like to invite all interested parts of the community to make contact with our team.”

The concept image for the port is now being shared with Iwi and wider stakeholders as part of the upcoming engagement process for the next phases of works.

Te Pūwaha is a collaborative partnership between Whanganui hapū and iwi and the four other groups invested in the development. These are Whanganui District Council, Horizons Regional Council, Q-West Boat Builders and the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust.

Te Pūwaha would like to acknowledge Te Awa Tupua and its communities, who are integral to the port revitalisation project.

The total investment in Te Pūwaha is over $50 million, with the infrastructure works carried out over three tranches or phases.

This includes a $26.75 million government investment managed by Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, with the remaining cost and resources covered by Whanganui District Council, Horizons Regional Council, Q-West Boat Builders, and the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust (Port Employment Precinct).