Far North Holdings is set to implement parts of a long-shelved plan to develop the waterfront at Paihia in the Bay of Islands. It has received $8m from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to build breakwaters that will protect waterfront infrastructure, including the town’s wharf and main road, and utility services such as sewage and water.
Far North District Council (FNDC) has earmarked an additional $5.3m to the project. This would enable development of the recreational area and restoration of the beach between the wharf and Nihonui Point if this is what the community wants.
This was once the most popular beach in the area but is now almost completely eroded. Timing around the availability of this funding, and therefore the work associated with it, has yet to be confirmed by the council.
The design and components of the waterfront redevelopment will be subject to input and prioritisation by the community and FNDC. Options include an expanded and enhanced recreational area, a cycleway, a promenade, inter-tidal beach steps, shelters and seating.
A 170m breakwater will extend from Motumaire Island towards Nihonui Point in the north-west and a 200m section will sit between Motumaire and Kuia Rongouru (Taylor Island) to the north-east, with breaks in or at the ends of the structure.
The design was altered after consultation with the late Emma Gibbs-Smith, kuia of Te Pēwhairangi/Bay of Islands. The breaks will allow marine life unfettered access around the islands and better maintain the independence of the islands without compromising the breakwater’s ability to protect the Paihia waterfront from damaging wave action.
Existing proposals feature groynes at each end of the re-nourished beach to help reduce future erosion and retain the beach.
If the beach is reinstated Far North Holdings will use 25,000m3 of dredge material from within the area encompassed by the breakwater. This is material that has been eroded from the beach over past decades and washed seaward, shallowing the area. It will be topped with 20,000m3 of fine sand from Pahi.
Chris Galbraith, Far North Holdings’ general manager, said the Paihia waterfront development project had stemmed from conversations the company had many years ago with business and community leaders in Paihia. They wanted to enhance and improve the Paihia visitor experience, to re-position Paihia to attract tourism in light of a more competitive period ahead.
The plan was consented and granted Ministerial approval in October 2010, after a 10-year process of research, consultation, planning and design. But it was shelved while the company focused on other projects such as the development of the Opua Marine Park, Bay of Islands Marina and tourism infrastructure in the Hokianga.
Depending on community input, some relatively minor aspects of the original design may need to be changed. In this case Far North Holdings will consider the merits of seeking amendments to the consent and advise the community accordingly.
Other commercial aspects of the original consented design will not be developed at this stage. These include additional buildings and a southern wave attenuator with berths. Chris Galbraith, Far North Holdings’ general manager, said it was possible that the company would revisit these at some point in the future.
Far North Holdings aims to put all work out to public tender late this year and appoint contractors. Public procurement processes will govern the awarding of contracts and Far North Holdings is expecting several local contractors to bid for the project.
At this stage it is anticipated that construction will start late this year and take 24 months to complete. Mr Galbraith said work would be scheduled to create as little disruption as possible over peak tourism periods.
He said the breakwater would protect the considerable investment that had gone into the recently-refurbished and expanded Paihia Wharf.
“We’ve all seen recent images of tidal surges and storm swells bashing into this vital piece of infrastructure,” he said. “Paihia Wharf is the busiest in New Zealand, in terms of passenger traffic, after those in Auckland’s Viaduct. Some 45 local maritime businesses rely on it directly for their livelihoods. The tourists who use it go on to use the services of thousands of other tourism businesses across the region. So it’s a significant public asset.
“We were able to persuade the PGF to spend $3m on upgrading it recently and this additional funding will enable us to protect that investment for the benefit of ratepayers.”
Far North Holdings will project manage and facilitate the development. The community will decide which components will be developed with the funding available, using an approach which has yet to be defined. A working group comprising local individuals and organisations will help deliver this.
Far North Holdings aims to host three community meetings in the week of 10 August to brief Paihia residents on the plans and to answer questions about the various components of the development. Details will be advertised on social media and in local newspapers. Further community meetings will be held at regular intervals once work starts.
Written project updates will be provided monthly once work starts and will be shared both on social media and on the Far North Holdings website.
Grant Harnish of community group Focus Paihia said: “As a Community Trust we are thrilled that our community will be so involved in deciding which of the consented waterfront components of the development will be created with the money that has been granted. This furthers our goal of making Paihia an even better place to live, work and visit.”
Charles Parker, Chairman of the Bay of Islands Marketing Group, welcomed today’s announcement and said an improved waterfront would lead to a better visitor experience, which would lead to more guests and more repeat visitors.
Belinda Ward, Chair of the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board, said: “We look forward to working with the community and Far North Holdings to advance the next stage of the Paihia Waterfront Masterplan for all the Far North district to enjoy.”
Plans of what the Paihia Waterfront Development might look like, subject to input and prioritisation by the community. Options include a re-nourished beach, an expanded and enhanced recreational area, a cycleway, a promenade, inter-tidal beach steps and disabled access, shelters and seating.
Far North Holdings is project-managing the installation of the physical infrastructure for a property development on Kellet Street; roading, telecommunication connections, water and sewerage connection, etc.
Links to plans:
Far North Holdings has had commitment from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) for a second round of funding in support of the proposed innovation and enterprise park the Far North District Council-owned company aims to develop near Kaikohe. The PGF has committed $19.5 million to fund site preparation, roads and drainage.
The PGF’s latest round of funding for the Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park will be released in two tranches. The first tranche of $1.5 million will enable Far North Holdings to complete detailed engineering design, planning and the tender process. This will confirm, to the satisfaction of Far North Holdings and the government, the actual cost of the development and the commercial viability of the first stage of the park.
If the project is deemed viable the government will release the balance of the funding announced today ($18 million) and the earthworks, roading and infrastructure construction work will start in September. This PGF-funded work will involve about 150 workers.
Construction of buildings and other facilities could involve a further 400 construction workers.
Far North Holdings’ chief executive Andy Nock said there was significant interest in Stage One of the park’s development from a range of potential occupants involved in food manufacturing, bioenergy, covered horticulture, research and development, and trades training that could see the production of low-cost community and social housing.
Between them these organisations had the potential to invest up to $70.8 million in establishing their businesses at the park. Far North Holdings hoped Stage One would attract more research and development to the district, create about 250 new long-term jobs, and equip about 50 people a year with high-value, transferrable skills.
Mr Nock said considerable effort had already gone into securing interest in the park from organisations that were either expanding or new to the district, that would offer new jobs to local unemployed people, and whose activities would complement the ‘closed loop’ aspiration of the development. This involves tenants using the innovations and unwanted by-products of other businesses on the site, to avoid additional demand on already-stretched community services such as potable water, raw water, waste-water treatment and waste management services.
“Today’s announcement by the government is a massive leap forward for the project,” Mr Nock said. “We are deeply grateful to it for the confidence it has demonstrated in what we are trying to achieve here for the economic and social wellbeing of our district.”
He said it was important for people to understand that all involved with this project still had a lot of work to do to secure the critical mass of commercial occupants to make the Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park project viable.
“The park needs to be future-proofed to provide something unique to attract the interest of businesses to a region where we do not have the ecosystem or infrastructure to support business growth,” said Mr Nock.
“We are doing this by providing a physical location for research and development agencies and on-site, bespoke training, and by taking an environmentally responsible approach to this development through our closed loop aspirations. These are central attractions for the businesses interested in locating in Stage One.”
A large team comprising staff from Far North Holdings, Northland Inc, government agencies, iwi, sector specialists, engineers, architects and planning and economic development experts has developed the business case for the park. It has also built a masterplan designed to provide the ‘closed loop’ system over several stages of development.
An innovation and education centre will provide office accommodation for iwi and businesses, and space for research and development providers who will collaborate with primary sector organisations, park occupants and local businesses to add value to their production.
The centre will also contain state-of-the-art communication technology, conference and education facilities so providers can deliver on-site and on-the-job education and training. This will ensure that locals can be trained to fill the positions available, and employers at the innovation and enterprise park can access the skilled workforce they need.
The town of Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands is set to be transformed through the creation of a new arts, culture and environment Centre that celebrates the town’s connection with Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and the rich culture in the area.
Friedensreich Hundertwasser built the now world-famous Hundertwasser toilets with the local community and this, his last and only building in the southern hemisphere, opened in 1999, just months before he died.
The project’s instigator is the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park Charitable Trust, which established the vision in 2008 and has a clear charitable charter. The Trust is working in partnership/co-governance with Ngati Hine to create a truly unique visitor experience for locals and visitors alike, with a ground floor interpretive centre and memorial to Hundertwasser, a first floor gallery and community workshop, and a viewing platform looking out across the park. The Centre is to be officially known as the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park Centre, Te Hononga, the joining of cultures.
Far North Holdings has worked closely with the community and played a central role in enabling and facilitating the project, forming a Project Partnership Group with the local Hundertwasser Park Charitable Trust, Te Runanga O Ngati Hine, Kawakawa Business and Community Association, Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board, Northland Regional Council and the Far North District Council.
This economic regeneration initiative will enhance the town’s ability to benefit from the already significant flow of visitors attracted to the Hundertwasser Toilets, the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway and the Twin Coast Cycleway.
Te Hononga will serve an estimated 350,000 visitors a year (more than 250,000 visitors already visit the existing Hundertwasser Toilets each year). New public amenities will relieve pressure on the original Hundertwasser toilets ‘artwork’ and provide an enhanced visitor experience, increasing the length of time spent in Kawakawa. The project will also significantly improve infrastructure, parking and amenities at the busy SH1 and SH11 junction. The proposal also aims to connect with the Twin Coast Cycleway, rerouting the already busy and congested SH1 trail onto a much safer and more scenic route through the Hundertwasser Park.
The proposal sees demolition of the existing building adjacent to the Hundertwasser toilets, opening the site to a new town square and civic space, and to the community park at the back. This will make it safe and accessible for families to use, as previously it was not visible from the main road. It will also provide a real sense of place and community in the centre of town.
The Far North District Council will relocate the public library and service centre into the new centre, ensuring good community use and ownership of the development and providing a sustainable anchor tenant for the project.
The Centre will be a showcase of environmental building and design. A wider kaupapa of arts, culture and environment will be at the heart of the centre, its exhibitions and community programmes run by the Trust and Ngati Hine.
Facilities will also be developed for cyclists and freedom campers. These will include bicycle racks and coin-operated ablution facilities such as 24/7 showers and toilets.
The community-driven initiative has been 18 months in planning and has required negotiation with multiple landowners. It now enjoys the firm support of the community, iwi, FNDC and NRC.
Previously there was no acceptable access arrangement to this land that would allow the development to proceed. By working with an adjoining landowner, who was previously unable to develop his site as NZTA would not permit access/egress from State Highway 1, we have formulated a solution acceptable to all parties. A one-way system will be developed whereby access is through the landowner’s site and egress will be through the FNDC site.
The improved coach and car parking at the rear of the site, owned and funded by Far North District Council, will ease congestion on SH1. It will allow coaches to be unloaded safely, and visitors will have access to the Kawakawa high street through the town square/atea.
It is anticipated that cyclists and other visitors will spend longer in Kawakawa as a result of this unique building, the landscaped park and the town square/atea. This will boost revenue to many local businesses, provide a cultural experience in the heart of Kawakawa and serve the wider Bay of Islands and Mid and Far North communities.
It will aid the creation of a regional Hundertwasser tourism circuit linking the Whangarei Museum, the Kaurinui development (where Hundertwasser is buried) and the original toilets/and Te Hononga in Kawakawa. This could be promoted both domestically and internationally.
It will take advantage of the growth in cruise ship numbers in the Bay of Islands, and will become part of the coach circuit created for these tourists.
The real foundation of the project is the community. Community ownership and use of the development is fundamental to its success. FNHL and the project partners have engaged with all sectors of the community. Everyone will have some involvement in the design and development of both the town square and the adjoining park to ensure they feel part of what will be a significant transformation.