Opotiki District Council has started the formal procurement process with a call for Statements of Interest and Ability (SIA) for design and construction of the Opotiki Harbour.

The harbour project will see the building of a year-round navigable harbour entrance to allow marine produce to be processed locally, and to unlock wider potential for other marine industries.

Opotiki mayor John Forbes, who chairs the Harbour Development Project Board, says the project is an exciting strategy to revitalise the economy of the eastern Bay of Plenty through the development of aquaculture, related industries and jobs.

"Key to this project is a collaborative approach between central, regional and local government, iwi, business and local stakeholders. Government departments, Whakatōhea and the regional and district council are working very closely with industry to get through the initial stages.

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"There are many strands of work underway in the background and this is a significant concrete step in the procurement process," Mr Forbes said.

Conceptual image of Opotiki Harbour Development
Conceptual image of Opotiki Harbour Development

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Primary Industries are working with other organisations on the project after the Government announced in October it would provide up to $3 million to finalise geotechnical investigations and design options for the new harbour entrance as part of the Bay of Plenty Regional Economic Action Plan.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has also committed $20 million to the harbour project through the Regional Infrastructure Fund. Regional Council Chair, Doug Leeder said that the benefits of the harbour would be felt throughout the region.

"The redevelopment will bring in $41-55 million per year in additional wealth and generate up to 220 new, sustainable, long term and skilled jobs. One of the key criteria in this SIA is ensuring we find an industry partner who understands the importance of local jobs and how we achieve the social as well as economic goals," Mr Leeder said.

Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board Chief Executive, Dickie Farrar, reflected the views of the Chair.

Opotiki Harbour.
Opotiki Harbour.

"We may need to bring some people home to Opotiki to have the right people with the right skills to make this happen. The project team is making good progress on a workforce development programme that will ensure we are training people now for future jobs and building the steps for roles we need when construction, processing and associated industries pick up pace. We have reflected this need for local jobs in the SIA process and hope to work closely with a future industry partner to make sure this local work happens," Ms Farrar said.

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The SIA opened on Monday 22 February 2016 and will close in March.

John Galbraith, Project Manager for the Opotiki Harbour Transformation Project, explained that the process was a significant undertaking to narrow down the best industry player to partner with Opotiki District Council into the construction phase of the harbour project.

"We need the design, construction plan and associated costings that will come out of this process as a key part of the Better Business Case to go to central government next year for consideration."

"The process will see us working very closely with an industry partner to produce a design and a plan that validates the work to date and meets government requirements for additional funding of up to $26 million," Mr Galbraith said.

Initial indications were that interest in the process was very high.

"Earlier this month, we let the industry know, informally, that this SIA was coming and the feedback we got was very encouraging. There has been a very enthusiastic response from design and construction companies but also from side industries who are interested in how they can become involved in the project. Together, this is adding to local anticipation as the project gets real traction," Mr Galbraith said.