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Collaborative approach to wharf redevelopment in Whakatane
23 August 2018
Collaborative approach to wharf redevelopment in Whakatane
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited and the Whakatāne District Council have formed a joint governance group to oversee the development of wharf facilities and related waterfront development options in Whakatāne.
 
The Council is required to replace the deteriorating concrete section of the town’s main commercial wharf – on the eastern bank of the Whakatāne River – by 2021 and has set aside $6 million in its Long Term Plan for a like-for-like replacement. However, that project will not meet the existing or future demand for commercial berths and the governance group is therefore keen to explore alternative development options which will create a tourism precinct and vibrant waterfront area; meet the future demand for berthage; and enable marine and White Island/Whakaari-related economic development and employment growth. 
 
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and its commercial arm, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited, have significant property interests on, or adjacent to the wharf, and are planning to expand their investments in the visitor economy. Any proposed wharf development will recognise the cultural significance for iwi and hapū of Ngāti Awa historical sites, events and practices relating to the river; and align with the Statutory Acknowledgements set out in Section 10 of the Ngāti Awa Treaty of Waitangi settlement legislation.
 
Waterfront development and enhanced onshore facilities to support the growth of tourism activities related to White Island/Whakaari are identified as the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s biggest and most unique tourism opportunity in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Visitor Economy Strategy.
 
The outcomes of the proposed redevelopment are a good fit for the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, which aims to lift productivity in the provinces and prioritises the enhancement of economic development opportunities and sustainable job creation. The governance group is developing a detailed business plan to support a funding application. The project partners are working closely with Government Ministers, local Members of Parliament and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to facilitate a compelling case for funding support under the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).
 
The wharf redevelopment will also be incorporated within the work being undertaken by the Regional Growth Leadership Group (RGLG) comprised of representatives from Kawerau, Ōpōtiki and Whakatāne District Councils, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Toi EDA and local iwi representatives. The RGLG was drawn together and co-sponsored by local MP Kiritapu Allen MP and Hon Dr Sir Michael Cullen to support the region’s PGF applications.
 
The governance group partners will seek input from a wide range of key stakeholders into the various wharf development options before confirming a preferred option. This will include close engagement with  Ngāti Awa, commercial port users, recreational users, the Whakatāne Sports Fishing Club, environmental groups, the Whakatāne Yacht Club, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Eastern Bay Chamber of Commerce and the wider community. 
 
It is anticipated that the community engagement process will be initiated before the end of 2018.