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Vessel Works new marine servicing hub for Tauranga
2 August 2018
Vessel Works new marine servicing hub for Tauranga
Today Tauranga City Council officially opened Vessel Works, the Tauranga Harbour Marine Precinct at Sulphur Point.  
 
Vessel Works is a new purpose-built marine servicing hub in the heart of Tauranga, catering for commercial and recreational vessels large and small. 
 
Vessel Works has been in the making since 2014, when the council at the time recognised the need to replace key facilities that the local marine industry lost when the Tauranga Harbour Bridge was expanded. Construction proper started in October 2016, and stage 1 of the project is now close to complete. 
 
The site and the travel-lift were blessed in the morning by tangata whenua, with a karakia led by Ngai Tamarawaho kaumatua Tamati Tata; and stakeholders joined in for a celebration in the evening. Mayor Brownless opened the speeches at the evening event.
 
“Tauranga is lucky to have a dynamic and innovative marine industry that delivers high-quality services in the area and nationally” he said.
 
“The future growth and prosperity of our city depends on attracting and retaining skilled, knowledgeable people and helping them develop productive, high-value businesses.”
 
“This is what the marine precinct project set out to do. And now here we are.”
 
State of the art facilities for new marine industry hub  
 
Through considered yet ambitious decision-making and project management, the new hub at Sulphur Point has the potential to be a game changer for the local marine refit industry.   At the centre of the hub now sits a 6300 square metre post-tensioned hardstand, which took out the record for the largest outdoor concrete pour ever attempted in the Bay of Plenty. The pavement is engineered to support loads of 500 tonnes – just under the fully-laden weight of an Airbus A380. 
 
The star of the precinct is Hikinui (‘big lift’), the largest capacity mobile vessel-hoist in the country that can lift vessels of up to 350 tonnes, and move them around the site and into marine businesses. The sheer capacity of the vessel-hoist will give the precinct the competitive edge when it comes to servicing large commercial and leisure boats.
 
Vessel Works also boasts deep water berthage and a refit wharf suitable for large boats, a washwater processing and recycling system to protect the harbour, barge loading ramps and facilities for unloading catch and loading ice that are well used by local fishing companies.
 
Around the precinct there are businesses setting up their operations on the lots that they bought in 2016. The land sales provided a major part of the Tauranga City Council funding for the development of the precinct. 
 
“Thank you and congratulations again to Hutcheson Boatbuilders, Pachoud Yachts, Pacific 7, RMD Marine, SMF Engineering and Super Yacht Coatings, as well as long-term lessees Matamata Motor Trimmers and Western Work Boats” said Mayor Brownless. 
 
Together these businesses cover a wide spread of specialties, from fibre-glassing to marine engineering, vessel painting and timber decking to composite building, a specialised workboat fleet and a fishing fleet. As such they will provide a one-stop shop for any vessel wanting to have work done, right here in Tauranga – a drawcard for boat owners from near and far. 
 
Partnership for success
 
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is the funding partner for the Marine Precinct project, contributing $5 million through the Regional Infrastructure Fund. 
 
The Regional Infrastructure Fund provides capital funding to assist in the development of major infrastructure projects that support sustainable regional economic development.    “This is a great example of collaboration and co-investment between councils, and with the private sector, to create opportunities for economic development for our city and the wider region” said Mayor Brownless.
 
“Without the Regional Council we wouldn’t have been able to deliver the facilities we are opening today, so thank you.”
 
The project is the first to be delivered of the four projects funded through the Regional Council’s $42.5 million Regional Infrastructure Fund.
 
Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor John Cronin said the Regional Council looked forward to seeing how it support will help the local marine industry.
 
“The Regional Infrastructure Fund was designed to promote economic development in the Bay of Plenty and we look forward to seeing the Harbour Marine Precinct contribute towards jobs remaining here and being created here” he said. 
 
“We are also pleased that the development means that the skills and knowledge that this industry holds stays here in the region, and continues to grow.”
 
The event marked the end of the Marine Precinct project stage 1 – and the start of operations for Vessel Works, Tauranga’s new marine servicing hub and one of New Zealand’s largest boat yards.
 
Operational management and future development
 
During the event, Mayor Brownless announced that Wardale Limited has been awarded a three-year contract to manage and operate Vessel Works on behalf of Tauranga City Council, following a request for proposals from contractors.   Phil Wardale and his team have led the development of the precinct for the past three years, designing the block of land at Sulphur Point into a bespoke facility. 
 
Contractor evaluation independent panel member Greg Prescott, manager of the Tauranga Marina Society, said that the innovation and relationship-building skills that Wardale displayed in the project management were a key factor in the decision. 
 
“Wardale was instrumental in delivering a design that attracted businesses to come on-board, as well as securing the 350t travel-lift” said Mr Prescott.
 
“Wardale’s proposal for the precinct promises to drive future growth by building on active relationships with the local, national and international marine industry, and building the reputation of Vessel Works through impeccable service delivery, process and brand management” he said.
 
“Wardale has the experience and capability to work with stakeholders to develop Vessel Works into an innovative and successful operation that attracts business to Tauranga from across the country and further afield.” 
 
Wardale’s contract takes effect from August 2018.
 
Further investment in marine assets
 
Closing off his speech, the mayor shared Council’s decision through the Long Term Plan to allocate $600,000 towards further repair and upgrade works on Bridge Wharf. This work will ensure fit-for-purpose access to deep water berthage for local fishing and other vessels. 
 
Council will also be looking at investing in additional temporary berthage along Dive Crescent, subject to a business case supporting the investment.