Port growth everyone's business: boat builder

By Laurel Stowell

1 comment
Contractors set steelwork in place as Whanganui's No 1 Wharf is repaired. PHOTO/ FILE
Contractors set steelwork in place as Whanganui's No 1 Wharf is repaired. PHOTO/ FILE

New developments at Whanganui's port must not be linked only with himself, Myles Fothergill says.

"I don't want this to be seen as a Myles show or a Q-West show," he told about 80 people at the Whanganui District Council Holdings annual report presentation on Thursday night.

Mr Fothergill was a late addition to the speaking list. He was out of hospital, after having suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident.

The port development is a public/private partnership, he said. He will invest some $4 million, with other money from Government, Holdings and council.

"I'm not looking for a handout. Never have. I will put my money where my mouth is."

It was Mr Fothergill's wish to keep Q-West Boat Building here that got a Government contribution of $500,000 and the late addition of Whanganui's port to focus areas in Accelerate25, the Manawatu Whanganui Growth Study's action plan.

He told Whanganui's council something would have to be done if his business was to stay in town. It's costing him $50,000 just to prepare the slipway near his current premises for the launch of a new ferry in November.

Marine consultant Philip Wardale said his boatbuilding business will be moved to the centre of the revamped port, and become its "anchor tenant".

Government's $500,000 is being spent on a master plan around that. The plan needs to be ready before Christmas, to get the best chance of more funding.

On the seaward side of the new boatbuilding premises site is No 1 Wharf, with its $1.9 million repair complete and suitable for use by a 100m ferry or the coastal freighter Anatoki.

To landward will be the recreational zone of the port, with a slipway and boat storage. It would be the sensible place for a small marina, too. Further upriver is a commercial zone, across what is now the Q-West site.

Mr Fothergill said the port development will have wide benefits.

"The really big thing we all need to understand is growing Whanganui, and an increase of property values in Castlecliff."

When questions were taken, one woman in the audience made a statement instead.

"If you can turn Castlecliff around, you will turn Whanganui around. Thanks to Myles it looks like this is happening," she said.

Among the questioners was Mariana Waitai, who commented that iwi engagement with the port had been talked of, but appeared to be just starting.

Holdings board member Annette Main said Ken Mair was now an a member of the port group, and Pahia Turia had input too.

"This money from Government wouldn't have come if there wasn't an iwi involvement."

Iwi have a long standing relationship with port lands, she said. Ms Waitai said some of those lands were under treaty claim.

"People have to realise that we are here. We aren't going away."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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