A "mini Viaduct Basin" concept for Napier is emerging out of both need and vision for the future of the inner harbour, including a "Waka Hub" in the Iron Pot marina at Ahuriri.
The concept includes the mooring of ocean-going waka Te Matau a Maui being relocated to Ahuriri's Iron Pot as part of an inner harbour development plan being considered by Napier City Council.
But with a move at least 18 months away, fencing is likely to be erected around the current mooring in an arm of the inner harbour off West Quay and opposite the Napier Sailing Club boat ramp. The fencing would help prevent vandalism, and people climbing aboard or setting the 22-metre, twin-hulled waka adrift when it is unattended.
Recommendations supporting the interim move, the development plan and priorities around a vision for the next 30 years were endorsed at a meeting of the council's Future Napier Committee meeting on Thursday.
Following a council workshop, the replacement of the State Highway 50 (Bridge St) retaining wall with a new seawall and terraces and the removal of Jull Wharf and the finger pier within the Iron Pot, which is flanked by Nelson and Customs quays, were seen as the No 1 priority, to "activate" a plan for the Iron Pot redevelopment, including the waka hub.
The hub would include a terraced platform, landing and performance area extending out from Bridge St to a pontoon and mooring for the waka, which has voyaged more than 40,000 nautical miles in the Pacific since it was built in 2009, with local crew and new scholars of ancient navigational lore.
Also included in what is one of four focuses of the plan would be space for visiting waka, and a pavilion for educational and visitor purposes.
The second priority would be the rebuilding of two Meeanee Quay jetties, and the third would be installing stormwater improvement devices across the area, where stormwater is discharged into the inner harbour.
With the upgraded fishing-boat and pleasure-boat mooring in the Iron Pot, some of those who have been helping formulate the plan have visions of a "mini Viaduct Basin", with waka skipper and trainee navigator Te Kaha Hawaikirangi saying: "Yes it does have that feel about it."
The relocation of the waka is seen by the council as a natural part of the plan, a vision of how the inner harbour will look over the next 30 years, sparked by a need for inner harbour infrastructure "renewals."
An introduction says it provides the opportunity for a design-led approach to enhance land- and water-based recreation, public access and amenity, cultural connection and expression, tourism and economic potential, and water quality and biodiversity values.
Among the issues to be addressed are strengthening of the bridge, which is part of State Highway 50 and now carries the bulk of logging trucks and other heavy traffic to Napier Port, and remedying the impacts of a stormwater outlet flowing into the Iron Pot from beneath the Bridge St-Nelson Quay intersection.
Waka owner and guardian Atea a Rangi Educational Trust has been discussing options with the council for at least five years, including a submission in recent annual plan consultation over increasing fears for the security of the vessel.
Lead navigator Piripi Smith says fencing the waka to improve its security is not what its kaupapa is about, and he welcomes the long-term solution.
The Iron Pot location wasn't one the trust had thought of initially and he said: "If you look at it now, you'd think 'No way'. It's an eyesore.
"But we have had quite a bit of input, and they've taken it all on board."
The wider Inner Harbour Plan retains the West Quay Working Wharf, in conjunction with the bars and restaurants and the one-way vehicle traffic-calming and streetscaping established after a three-month trial early last year. It includes a cycleway, pōhutukawa and rata trees, and movable seating to enable service access.
There would also be enhancement of Te Karaka Reserve (formerly known generally as Perfume Point or East Pier), with concrete and hardwood seating units inserted into limestone revetment near the water's edge.
On the opposite, northern side, Meeanee Quay Reserve would also be improved with an extended shared path, picnic areas, fishing platforms and enhancement of the coastal edge.
The meeting was told by staff that once the approvals were given, the process would be set for work to possibly begin in 2024-2025.