A proposed $3.7 million upgrade of boat facilities in Kerikeri Inlet will improve Northlanders' access to the water, Far North Mayor John Carter says.
The project, if it goes ahead as planned at Rangitane, will include a double-width boat ramp and launching pontoon, 16 trailer parks, 12 car parks and an upgrade of the existing wharf.
The new parking area and ramp will be built on a reclamation of just over 7000sq m, of which about 3400sq m will be sealed.
Local hapū Ngāti Rēhia backs the proposal, saying it will improve access to the Bay of Islands — which has become increasingly difficult because of a coastal property boom locking away large swathes of the coast.
Locals are believed to strongly support an upgrade of the run-down wharf, but some oppose the reclamation or say narrow Rangitane Rd isn't suitable for big vehicles towing boat trailers. Others worry about the effects of increased traffic on the area's kiwi population.
The Rangitane Residents Association is holding a public meeting at Rangitane Reserve from 2-5pm on Sunday, which will be attended by a number of councillors.
The aim is to gather feedback on a proposed community plan but the reclamation is likely to a hot topic.
The association holds a potential trump card because it owns the consent for the wharf upgrade.
Ngāti Rēhia spokeswoman Nora Rameka said the Rangitane development would complement improved boat access being built at Windsor Landing/Rangitoto on the south side of the inlet.
''We welcomed that project and view the Rangitane upgrade in the same way. Over the years, development around Kerikeri has reduced opportunities for people to access the moana. We support projects that help reverse that trend and make it easier and safer for all people get out on the water."
According to the Far North District Council, Rangitane's boat ramp is steep and difficult to use and the community-owned jetty has fallen into disrepair.
A lack of boat trailer parking means vehicles and trailers are often parked haphazardly along the road shoulder, putting drivers and pedestrians in danger.
Carter said the council, with government help, was planning to upgrade marine facilities in the Bay of Islands, Hokianga, Pukenui and Unahi.
"This is great news for all Far North residents, but particularly those in Kerikeri where population growth has put real pressure on marine facilities."
Consultation with iwi, community groups and other affected parties was ongoing, he said.
The Rangitane project is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which has committed $2.5m through its Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund, and the council, which has allocated $1.2m. Council-owned company Far North Holdings will manage the project.
* The original version of this story stated the total cost was $4.2 million. That figure was supplied in error by the Far North District Council.