By Pauline Stewart.
Thirty new berths were officially opened and commissioned last Thursday, 6 April at Whitianga Marina as part of a $15 to $20 million dollar upgrade. The ceremony and celebrations were to be out on the berths, but teeming rain brought the guests numbering about 80, inside the big boat storage sheds. Almost every berth owner was present as well as those who had worked to make the project possible. The rain did not wet the enthusiasm for celebrating this significant occasion which completes a huge, multi-million dollar upgrade of Whitianga Marina. Calum McGillivray, Marina Society Chairman was the host and speaker, and jollied everyone in the inclement weather. Calum reiterated in his welcome and commissioning speech how fortunate they had been to be able to begin construction when they had, and that its completion at this time was a very commendable achievement. A week after signing all the contracts, the prices of steel and cement increased by a huge margin and would have made proceeding too expensive. He thanked Heron Construction, particularly Greg and Louise Kroef who had given a lot of personal investment to this particular project seeing it through all its stages. The cruel weather conditions had continued for several weeks. Louise, with Rebecca Walker, cut the ribbon which was paraded across the shed opening rather than the Marina berth entrance. Rebecca has been the administrator of the project and Calum spoke of her excellent organisation in dealing with all the details of every aspect of what was a very significant project for Mercury Bay. Calum gave generous thanks to Lorenzo Canal of Urban Solutions who had been contracted as Project Manager - the complicated consent process and dealing with Councils and other local bodies had
been facilitated very well by Lorenzo. Dave Munday, Manager of The Marina, who had worked with all parties to keep the Marina operating right through the project, received Calum’s jovial praise, and Dave a responded don behalf of everyone paying tribute to Calum for his leadership and able management with the presentation of a tribute plaque to be placed at a later date. The revamp and enlargement means that Whitianga Marina is home to some of the biggest, most expensive, top-end cruising boats in New Zealand. “These are not fishing vessels but entertainment and hosting vessels,” said Calum. The Marina first opened 34 years ago, and Calum gave due credit to one man who persevered in handling all kinds of opposition plus legal and technical hurdles to make the initial stages of the Marina a reality, and that was Richard Simpson.
His two daughters, Vanessa and Yvette, were present to perform the traditional opening act of a Marina berth or a boat vessel - smashing a bottle of champagne against the side. For this, Dave Munday, had placed a black mooring stone. Yvette Simpson spoke about her dad. “He saw the waste in the water when he was travelling around the different ports, and he thought we needed to look after our environment more. That was one of the main reasons for the Marina; it wasn’t just meant to be a playboy - playgirl domain. It was so that we could have a better footprint, so I want that to be remembered about my father.”
NOTE: Public access is not open yet as there is the connecting roading to be done. The Marina
is working hard on this to be completed in the next few weeks.
This entire project was self-funded.
Caption: Smash! Vanessa Simpson smashes a bottle of champagne following the traditional practice of christening a new vessel. Her sister Yvette and Dave Munday watch on. Their father, the late Richard Simpson, originally initiated the work for a marina in Whitianga.