By ROSALEEN MacBRAYNE
About $500,000 is needed to build New Zealand's first artificial surf reef at Mt Maunganui - but the man who developed the concept, Kerry Black, is confident it is "a goer".
A fundraising campaign will begin soon and once the target has been reached the 100m-long wave break could be a reality within a few months, says Dr Black, a member of a restructured trust behind the project.
The underwater reef, 250m off the main Mount beach near Tay St, was designed several years ago to be the first in the world.
Resource consent was granted in 1999, but a neighbouring timeshare resort, Sun Pacific Villas, scuppered planned construction at the 11th hour with a High Court legal challenge.
The court ruled in favour of the reef development last August.
Dr Black, who pioneered the technology with coastal oceanography and marine geology colleagues at Waikato University, is now managing director of Artificial Surf Reef .
The Hamilton company, a knowledge-based export industry, has about 15 projects on the go around the world.
While the volunteers battled to get the modest 100m-long Mt Maunganui reef off the ground, Australia's Gold Coast got in first with one nearly five times bigger.
Although the Surfers Paradise reef was still being finished, studies had shown it was already bringing $80 back to the community for every $1 invested, Dr Black said.
It also provided coastal protection and attracted marine life.
The Tauranga District Council has earmarked $150,000 for the Mount project and the Port of Tauranga has said it will donate 5000 cubic metres of sand.