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Dredging to make Whanganui Port basin a recreational hub

Long-term dredging consents for the Whanganui Port are being lodged.

Posted on March 20, 2024

Efforts to make part of Whanganui Port a recreational hub are under way with long-term consent being sought for dredging in the area.

The application seeks permission to remove built-up sediment in the basin as part of the port’s revitalisation project Te Pūwaha.

The dredging would involve an excavator and barge removing silt and releasing it back into a channel downstream.

A two-year consent allowing excavation work in the three main wharves and boat ramp, which was granted for the $50m project in 2023, would be replaced.

The application was made in accordance with the river’s status as its own legal entity and with recognition hapū could stop the consented activity at any time.

Te Pūwaha chairperson Kahureremoa Aki said the environmental effects were taken into account for the application, and it was about finding a way for the port to give back to the awa and improve its future health.

“As with all other work undertaken within the Te Pūwaha project, project partners are committed to upholding Tupua te Kawa and celebrating the connection between our community and Te Awa Tupua.”

The project was an ongoing collaboration between Whanganui District Council, iwi, hapū and other groups, and the first of its kind involving the river as its own entity.

Te Pūwaha chairperson Kahureremoa Aki says they are finding a way for the port to give back to the awa.

Project director Phil Wardale said they were not shying away from efforts to restore the river and all work would be done “in balance with owning the ecological impact that dredging creates”.

Te Pūwaha is a $50m community and iwi-led initiaitve.

“Long-term dredging will create greater access and opportunities for both recreational and commercial use.

“The port basin will become a sheltered area for water sports such as paddle boarding and kayaking, while commercial businesses will have fewer limitations, enabling the likes of Q-West Boat Builders to grow their building and maintenance services.”

He said a new piece of technology, a cutter suction dredge, would also be trialled in the basin.

“Our current dredging solution of a barge and excavator has its uses, but it’s unable to shift the amount of sediment we need at an efficient pace.”

Regular dredging had not occurred in the area and built up material was making access difficult for the Coast Guard and recreational and commercial boaties.

The area was also home to pipi and burrowing invertebrates, and because of this eco-system iwi wanted sediment deposited back into the flow of the awa and not taken out.

Alongside the places they were permitted to do this, there were ongoing discussions around other disposal sites that could be approved by hapū.

The cutter suction would also help with keeping sediment in the water, giving pipi a better chance of survival after relocation.

A proposal to fix the hole in the training wall to reduce the amount of sediment getting through in future was also part of the application.


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