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Major Milestone Reached In Ōpōtiki Harbour Development Project

A major milestone has been reached in the Ōpōtiki Harbour Development Project.


On Monday morning, water started flowing for the first time between the new seawalls which extend 450m out to sea.


It's the start of the process of moving the river mouth from its current location near the Waiotahi Drifts subdivision to its new location between the constructed seawalls further east.


It comes after physical construction led by HEB Construction first started in September 2020.


A blessing was held on the site at dawn on Monday morning, before work started to lower the final strip of sand down to the low tide mark to allow the water to pass through.


The natural passing of the water has deepened the channel and the remaining sand will be progressively excavated this week. The team will then complete further dredging and excavating, which will create the new river mouth between the groynes.


Project Director, John Galbraith said that the process had gone smoothly and as expected.


“It was a special milestone for the whole team as water starting to flow between the seawalls and it marks a very significant moment for the community," Galbraith says.


"There is still a lot of work to do on site, particularly to use that large stockpile of sand to start closing up the current river mouth, and the project in full won’t be completed until early 2024. At that point, there will be access out to the end of the seawalls and the surrounding areas,"


“However, we expect that the first boats will be passing between the seawalls as soon as next month. We look forward to having more to share on that moment shortly,"


“From a safety point of view, I’d ask that people continue to keep well clear of the whole area. The Harbourmaster has closed Pakihikura to all boats and there is no access to open water (except Coastguard) for at least a couple of weeks. Thanks to boaties and everyone else for their patience,” Galbraith says.


Ōpōtiki Mayor, David Moore, said that it was a significant milestone, part of the transformation of the district.


“Our river mouth has historically migrated back and forwards eastward and westward along that strip of coastline. One hundred years ago, Ōpōtiki was a bustling port town with a strong and growing economy built around good river access. While many factors marked a change in fortunes for the district, certainly a shift in the river and a loss of access for larger vessels was part of that,"


“With the historic Whakatōhea Treaty settlement in May, it feels like a turning point for us here – rebuilding our economy from the sea again,” Moore says.


Image: Ōpōtiki District Council.


Public Interest Journalism funded through New Zealand On Air.

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