An exciting milestone has been reached for the city with the official opening of Vessel Works, the first stage of the $11.4 million Tauranga Harbour Marine Precinct at Sulphur Point.
Last night stakeholders from local marine industry, representatives from Tauranga City and Bay of Plenty Regional Council, and local MPs celebrated the opening of the state-of-the-art marine servicing facility.
The precinct provides a base for boat building and refitting businesses in Tauranga and will be managed by Tauranga City Council under the Vessel Works brand.
The project is being funded by a $5m contribution from the regional council through its Regional Infrastructure Fund and a $6.4m contribution from Tauranga City Council.
Once completed the precinct would create about 130 fulltime equivalent jobs.
Mayor Greg Brownless said the "fantastic" new facility would be a one-stop shop for any vessel wanting to have work done right here in Tauranga.
"All around the precinct, there are businesses setting up their operations on lots that they have bought. This is a great example of our businesses co-investing in the future.
"We now have a pretty special offering for marine operators and boaties across the industry both locally and overseas. Now bring on the America's Cup," he said.
The first stage of the service hub included a 6300sq m hardstand, deepwater marina berths for large vessels and New Zealand's largest travel lift, capable of hauling a 350-tonne vessel out of the water for servicing.
NZ Marine Industry Association executive director Peter Busfield said the new facilities were a "win-win" not just for Tauranga but the marine industry across the country.
There had already been keen interest from overseas, including Australia, and plenty of opportunities for America's Cup syndicates to use the facilities, he said.
Don Mattson from Hutcheson Boatbuilders and Sean Kelly, who owns Pacific 7, had both lobbied for years for the establishment of the precinct.
Mattson and Kelly both say the new marine precinct would help to "put Tauranga on the map" as the place to come for any boat building and refit needs.