Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones today laid the last few licks of paint on railings at Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands, symbolically completing a $1.281m renovation and upgrade of the iconic gateway to the town once known as the Hell-hole of the Pacific.
The Provincial Growth Fund contributed $1.114m to this project, which was contracted to Bellingham Marine and overseen by Far North Holdings, the commercial trading and asset management arm of Far North District Council.
Work has enhanced the usability and safety of existing berths at Russell wharf by replacing the low tidal landing timber steps with floating pontoons. These are now operational and accessible right across the tidal spectrum, effectively increasing the usable berth space available throughout the day.
The project also included removing a fixed timber landing jetty and replacing it with a concrete pontoon, a new dinghy dock, and an extension for more visitor space and improved passenger flow.
“Russell wharf is one of the busiest in New Zealand and was in great need of improvement to meet the demands placed on it,” said Far North Holdings chief executive Andy Nock. “It is one of the key items of infrastructure that underpins our district’s tourism industry and the wider economy so the significance of the PGF’s investment cannot be underestimated.”
“We are extremely grateful to the Provincial Development Unit for enabling this project, and to the Minister for having the political courage to back it.”
Russell Wharf is one of three pieces of vital marine infrastructure in the Bay of Islands benefitting from PGF investment.
$3.77m has gone towards a $4.7m upgrade of nearby Paihia wharf. This has been contracted to United Civil and work is expected to last until the end of December. This includes widening the main wharf walkway to deal with congestion issues, resulting in a more open and pleasant experience and allowing the public to better enjoy the wharf.
A public dinghy dock is being built, and an additional two pontoons installed to provide four extra commercial berths. A new pier will service these berths. A sewage pump will be installed on the fuel jetty to relieve pressure at the Opua pumping station and to encourage vessel masters to pump out holding tanks there instead of at sea.
$890,000 has been invested in a $1.447m pontoon alongside Opua wharf that will help businesses in the Opua Marine Park service the lucrative superyacht fit-out and maintenance market. Work here is being undertaken by Bellingham Marine and is scheduled for completion in October.
About Far North Holdings Ltd
Far North Holdings Limited (FNHL) is responsible for managing and operating the commercial activities of the Far North District Council. These include Port Opua, Bay of Islands Marina, Kaitaia and Bay of Islands Airports, Paihia Maritime Buildings and Paihia Wharf, Williams Road Car Park and the Kaitaia Education Campus.
Since 2005 all of FNHL’s trading surplus has either been distributed to the Far North District Council or reinvested in property and infrastructure within the Far North District. The Far North District Council estimates that without this financial contribution general rates would have been approximately four percent a year higher, each year, over this period.
FNHL’s mandate includes the support and development of economic activity in the Far North.