Mooted for some time, discussions and planning have recently become more serious regarding the rebuilding of the Mangawhai Wharf, which once ran over 100 metres into the channel from a point adjacent to the boat ramp at the Mangawhai Tavern.
A cross-community group, coordinated by the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society, is now evaluating this community-wide initiative, which will create a tangible link to the history of the district and provide a valuable asset for waterbased activities.
The original wharf was built around 1890 and was used mostly by flat-bottomed schooners to ship goods in and out, until the war years curtailed its use and it was never operational again. The wharf eventually fell into disrepair and was deconstructed in 1950. The society has procured plans, specifications and information about the wharf's original construction and intends to rebuild as closely as possible to the original, taking certain aesthetics into consideration – no native timbers, marine grade fittings, lighting and safety features and a larger pontoon with easier access than the original. There will also be navigation and safety lighting, as well as a life buoy ring and ladders.
The wharf will measure 102 metres long, minus the original rail line with a three metre width walkway for easy access to the 12m by 11m section at the end. This end section will include a 7m by 6m shed to provide shelter and reflect the design and original use of the old wharf. No commercial activities are foreseen, apart from fundraising activities for the wharf itself, with the possible exception of a water taxi operation. The wharf will be useable by boats up to 7m in length according to the tidal range.
Expert reports have been commissioned regarding the seabed, environmental, landscape and visual impacts. These will form part of any future resource consent application. Engineered drawings have also been completed covering the design, position, dimensions, basic materials and lighting for the project.
Spokesman for ‘Project Wharf’ Colin Leach told The Focus, “We are essentially restoring an historical feature of the harbour by replicating the original wharf. People will appreciate this is still in its early stages and numbers, costs and reports will be openly available to the public for discussion, evaluation and feedback starting with an information bureau set up at the annual gala at the Domain on 2 January and at the Museum on Anniversary Weekend.”
The cost of the project is yet to ascertained. Funding will be sourced from the wider Mangawhai community and grants. The initial input has been a $20,000 grant from the KDC via the MELA fund for a feasibility study into the rebuild. The cost of the rebuild will have no impact on rates. It is envisaged work could begin in late 2018. The construction will be owned and managed by a single purpose charitable trust which will ensure the wharf is maintained for future generations. “As we appreciate that a number of interested parties will be involved in the consent process and decision-making, we must first seek the consent and feedback from the community to undertake a project that we believe will re-generate some of Mangawhai’s history and be a worthwhile addition to community facilities,” said Colin Leach.
Historical information including a model and story board on the old wharf is on permanent display at the Mangawhai Museum.