The Bay of Islands Marina expansion project at Opua was blessed today in a formal ceremony conducted by Reverends Hirini Parata of Moerewa and Glenys Davis of Kawakawa.
Construction started today and is expected to take 15 months to complete. Far North Holdings chief executive officer Andy Nock expects to achieve an occupancy level of 40 percent of available berths within 12 months of the extension to the marina being completed.
Bay of Islands Marina will start taking reservations on the berths from 1 December 2016 but is only accepting bookings on half the berth number, just in case of any delays during the construction period caused by bad weather or similar unpredictable circumstances.
An economic report commissioned by Far North Holdings from Auckland-based consultancy ME Economics indicates that the wider financial benefit to the region is in the order of $23m a year from Year Five, when the marina becomes fully operational. And research conducted by the Opua Business Association indicates that businesses in the town have forecast a 44 percent growth in turnover and an estimated 60 employment opportunities as a result of the development.
Speakers at today’s ceremony said that while the marina expansion would benefit the people of the area it would also be watched over by the entire community.
Far North deputy mayor Tania McInnes said the marina expansion and other major developments under way in the Far North would help change the way that the Far North is perceived beyond the region.
“The Far North is known for negative stories,” Ms McInnes said. “Today is about changing that.”
Far North Holdings Chairman Ross Blackman took a similar line. “Today is the start of a fresh new chapter in this area’s story,” he said. “We recognise the tangata whenua of this area and I want to reassure you that our view at Far North Holdings is that we feel the same responsibilities to protect and enhance the Opua environment as the tangata whenua. If it looks like we might be falling short in any areas I fully expect the community to hold us to account.”
In addition to the new berths and marine-based infrastructure the expanded, new-look marina will feature a board-walk frontage and a landscaped recreational area. This will include seating, barbeques, a performance and entertainment stage and a play zone for children. Mr Nock said the plan was to transform the land-based part of the marina from the “rather sterile, industrial place it is at the moment” into a venue that people will enjoy and to which they will bring their families.
As part of the project Far North Holdings will be contributing to several development projects being promoted by the community. The Love Opua community development group has identified several new initiatives which are seen as important additions to the infrastructure of the town. The first project Far North Holdings hopes to start on is a fitness trail originally suggested by Opua School.