Tuesday, 20 August 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Resource consent for new Whitianga Marina seawall obtained

After commencing the process two years ago, the Whitianga Marina Society has obtained last week resource consent to build a new 300m long seawall at the Whitianga Marina.

“Our existing seawall is coming to the end of its useful life,” says Calum McGillivray, chairman of the Whitianga Marina Society. “The wall was constructed 20 years ago out of smaller-sized rocks, which was the preferred method of construction at the time. Our new wall will be built using interlocking concrete blocks. It’s cutting edge technology which will futureproof the marina for many decades to come.

The new seawall will be built approximately 20m deeper into the Whitianga Harbour than the existing wall. “Our new wall will still fall inside our consented footprint,” says Dave Munday, Whitianga Marina manager. “We have at the moment 191 berths in the marina, almost all of them are between 10 and 16m long. The new wall will allow us the opportunity to create an additional 30 large 18m berths. The new wall is a multimillion-dollar project and will be funded through the sale of the new berths. The Marina Society committee has promised our members that construction of the wall won’t start until such time as we’ve sold enough of the new berths to pay for the wall in full.

“The boating industry has changed from when the Whitianga Marina was first developed. Large boats are these days much more common and there’s a demand for larger berths. We’ve already started to advertise the new berths in some of the leading boating magazines and hope to have enough sold so that construction of our new seawall can start within the next 12 months.”

Once construction of the new wall on the outside of the marina’s existing seawall is completed, the existing wall will be demolished. The rocks of the existing wall will be stored by TCDC for possible use in future projects.

Construction of the new wall will be managed by Bellingham Marine, the multinational company that developed the interlocking blocks the wall will be built with. “We’re expecting Bellingham Marine to use as many local subcontractors as possible,” says Calum. “It will take approximately a year for the wall to be constructed and we see the process as an opportunity to invest back into the local community.

“We’re also upgrading and expanding the fuel berth in the marina to allow up to four boats to refuel at the same time. That will hopefully relieve congestion in the marina and cause things to flow more smoothly.

“We don’t expect the construction of our new seawall to cause any inconvenience to Whitianga residents and visitors. We’ll make sure that no heavy vehicles will cause any traffic hold-ups during busy periods like just before the start of the school day at Mercury Bay Area School. The usual Whitianga Scallop Festival site may not be fully available, but we’ll work with the Scallop Festival committee to come up with an alternative that will be just as good.”

The Whitianga Marina Society hopes the wall will become a Whitianga landmark. A unique stingray pattern that will be visible at low tide has already been designed and will be etched into the wall. Two sculptures, most likely of Kupe and James Cook (Captain Cook) will be erected at the entrance to the marina, one on the northern reclamation and the other at the northern end of the wall. “Well-known Maori artist James Webster and Joe Davis, kaumatua of Ngati Hei, are already working on the designs of the statues,” says Dave. “Joe has also been involved in the design of the stingrays. He and Ngati Hei were fully supportive of our new seawall from day one, something we very much appreciate.”

A walkway, which will be open to the public, will be developed on top of the wall and will be illuminated at night time through the clever use of lighting. “We hope the wall will become a popular fishing spot and plan to install a few fishing stations - filleting tables and hoses - on the wall,” says Dave.

Access to the wall will be at the end of a one-lane road that will be built between the Dundas Street boat ramp and where the Whitianga Marina hardstand is at the moment. Members of the Whitianga Marina Society will have exclusive vehicle access to the road, which they will only be able to use for drop-off purposes.

“It’s exciting to think that our new seawall is now within reach,” says Dave. “It wasn’t easy to get to where we’re now, but in the end it will all be worth it. Thank you to all our members, the Department of Conservation and TCDC for their support, as well as everyone who encouraged us to keep on pushing ahead. We’re certain everyone in Whitianga will be proud of what we’re going to build.”

(Picture: Calum McGillivray (left), chairman of the Whitianga Marina Society, and Dave Munday (right), Whitianga Marina manager, on the existing seawall of the Whitianga Marina)

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