Extra $70,000 for the Waimarie

By John Maslin john maslin@wanganuichronicle co nz

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MV Waimarie on the Whanganui River
MV Waimarie on the Whanganui River

Keeping Whanganui's historic paddle steamer the Waimarie shipshape doesn't come cheap and the five-yearly survey of the boat will cost the Riverboat Restoration and Navigation Trust $170,000.

The trust has raised $100,000 but needs the remaining $70,000 before June 30 and, if the survey is not done by then, the Waimarie will not be allowed back on the water.

The trust has lodged applications with other funders but this week asked Whanganui District Council for a one-off grant of $70,000 if it can't raise the money other ways.

This week, the council unanimously agreed to the request.

Trust member Richard Sheppard told Tuesday's council meeting that the floods last June had left the survey plans "in tatters".

The trust had looked at other options, such as cranes, but those costs were exorbitant, so it now plans to slip the Waimarie near Kowhai Park.

"Whether the council decides to cover that $70,000 really comes down to how much the council and community value the Waimarie," Mr Sheppard said.

Use of the paddle steamer continues to grow. From October last year to March, more than 4900 passengers sailed on the boat.

Of those, 64 per cent were visitors from around New Zealand and 19 per cent from overseas.

Mayor Annette Main said it would be "crazy" for the council to give up on what had become an icon for the city, and especially considering the financial commitment the council had put into the project over the years.

Councillor Rob Vinsen said the importance of the Waimarie was the way the vessel helped promote Whanganui to national and international visitors.

The council also agreed to increase its annual grant (2016-17) to the Waimarie Operating Trust by $20,000 to $60,000.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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