Progress as Port upgrade enters phase two with community at its heart

Momentum is building as work progresses to repair and upgrade the Whanganui Port as a long-term community economic and recreational asset.

The port revitalisation project, named Te Pūwaha, has completed the first phase of work to prepare the port site for upgrades and is about to launch the second phase of works.

Te Pūwaha chair Gerrard Albert said Te Pūwaha has made a commitment to ensure that the project is inclusive, and that the wider community is involved in the plans for the port, in line with the legal status of the Whanganui River as Te Awa Tupua.

“The status of the river as Te Awa Tupua implores us to work more collaboratively and to keep the wellbeing of the people and the river at the heart of the project,” he said.

“Significant effort has gone into ensuring the project is set up in a way that supports community participation and leadership. This is an improvement on past ways of working, where community engagement would traditionally come late in the project.”

To that end, Te Pūwaha Governance Group membership has been enhanced to include community leaders such as Jock Lee, Kahureremoa Aki, and representatives from local hapū through Te Mata Pūau, including Chris Shenton, Raukura Waitai and Kahurangi Simon.

Phase one of works has included initial work preparing the wharves and deconstructing the century plus old Red Shed, which had deteriorated beyond repair. Repairs to the Victory Shed and other structures are currently underway, as is the search for a project director who will oversee the operations from the second quarter of this year as work picks up.

The second tranche of works provides the perfect environment for community leadership to be tapped into, as upgrades to public spaces such as the North Mole begin planning. The North Mole upgrade will start with construction of a hardstand area to stockpile rock.

Whanganui community representative Jock Lee said Te Pūwaha is adopting processes that ensures community engagement adds to the overall value of the project.

“Alongside the hapū engagement already in train, input will be sought from the Castlecliff community on the potential uses and benefits of the North Mole upgrade, before work begins on the hardstand and other aspects,” he said.

Due to the complexity of the job, the North Mole upgrade is anticipated to be completed by late 2022.
Te Pūwaha is a collaborative effort involving community, hapū, Whanganui District Council, Horizons Regional Council, central Government, Q-West Boat Builders, and the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust.

Upon completion, Whanganui will have an attractive modern marine precinct. It will protect 125 jobs and could create 500 new jobs within 10 years, stimulating ongoing local economic and workforce development.

Mayor Hamish McDouall said there is confidence that the new modus of operating within Te Pūwaha will provide the best outcome for everyone.

“We recognise the unique opportunity we have to work differently to how we have in the past – to work more closely with hapū and community to ensure they are central to how we progress,” he said.

“Essential work has already been carried out to prepare the port site for the next phase of works, and we’re feeling positive about the progress that has been made.”