This week the Environmental Protection Authority Te Mana Rauhī Taiao (EPA) advised that resource consent had been granted for a Boat Harbour to be developed in Keepa Road in Whakatane.

John Rae, chair of Te Rāhui Herenga Waka Whakatāne 2021 Limited Partnership welcomed the news.

“The project team has worked closely with stakeholders on this project including our project partners to develop a project that will address the lack of maritime infrastructure in the town and provide opportunity for the region through the maritime and tourism industries, whilst delivering the project with a very sound environmental proposition.”

“Now our role is to ensure that through good governance, and planning Te Rāhui Herenga Waka delivers to the strategic objectives of the project for its four partners: the Te Rāhui Lands Trust, Whakatāne District Council, Government’s Provincial Growth Fund via Kānoa Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, and Ngāti Awa Group Holdings.”

Sustainability considerations have been top-of-mind from the beginning, says Te Rāhui Lands Trust Chairman Brian Simpson.  He explains this includes both human and environmental aspects of sustainability.

“The boat harbour will start to restore both the mauri of the river, and the wellbeing of our people through employment and training opportunities, for future generations,” he says. 

“We are excited about what this means for the future of the region,” says Mayor of Whakatāne, Judy Turner. “The idea of a fit for purpose sustainable facility for berthing vessels has been considered for some time because it enables the region to be home to a commercial marine hub that will create long term job opportunities in the maritime and tourism sectors, and provide critical infrastructure that many marine businesses in the town require to support their ongoing businesses in Whakatāne.”

“Now we have resource consent approval we want people to continue to learn more about the necessity for such a project in Whakatāne and why Council has leveraged the Harbour Endowment Portfolio to co-fund the development alongside central government.”

“Construction and operation of the Boat Harbour will need locals to get involved with it, as the project is going to need people to operate the boats, to fix boats, to work in the boatyard, on the docks, in the marine training centre, to make and supply ice, to help run the fuel station, and to work in any food and beverage businesses that open up. We anticipate it will lead to hundreds of associated jobs in the coming years.”

The Project Director for the Boat Harbour Phil Wardale said the region was supported by the Fast Track consenting process which provided certainty of timing for the consenting process. “We thank all submitters who answered the call from the EPA to provide their views on the project,” says. “Many contributed their knowledge of the area, which has helped us to refine the project design to ensure it will perform to a very high level, particularly in relation to environmental matters regarding local water quality and ecology.”

The consent is issued with a robust package of over 100 consent conditions, which includes a framework of consent delivery that has the project setting up a Project Reference Group, a Tangata Whenua Liaison Group, and a Community Liaison Group, all of which will be established over the next six weeks in order to meet before the end of July. The community can read more about membership of these various groups on our website.

Background Information:

Te Rahui Herenga Waka Whakatāne 2021 Limited Partnership is a partnership between Te Rāhui Lands Trust; Whakatāne District Council; Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited; and the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, via Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit.

The project will create the equivalent of at least 30 full time jobs during its construction, and longer term is expected to create upwards of 600 of new jobs and flow-on economic benefits for Whakatāne.  

The Crown via Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment is providing $19.6m of funding towards the project. A further $9.8m is funded by Whakatāne District Council through the Harbour Endowment Fund.

Subject to construction timelines, the first boats could move in early in 2025.