After decades of hard work and campaigning, Ōpōtiki's long-neglected harbour is getting a much-needed upgrade. The town's harbour is receiving a $79.4 million boost, courtesy of the Provincial Growth Fund.

"You spend so much time working to create a new economic development that will have such powerful social outcomes for our district," Ōpōtiki mayor Lyn Riesterer said.

"I'm just sorry we were actually in Auckland when the announcement was made, because there were huge announcements down the street of Ōpōtiki and there was a bit of dancing in the street.

"I think it was confirmation that all the hard work that's gone into it has come to fruition. And we've breathed a collective sigh, at last. We're very excited and we do need to celebrate this as a community - because it has impacts for the entire district."

Aileen Lawrie, chief executive of Ōpōtiki District Council. Photo / Nathan Morton
Aileen Lawrie, chief executive of Ōpōtiki District Council. Photo / Nathan Morton

Plans for the project are displayed in the council chambers. The wharf will be redeveloped, along with several extra water farms put in place. These farms are vital to the local economy.

"It's a fundamental part of the strategy for the district," Ōpōtiki District Council chief executive Aileen Lawrie said.

"You can see that the district is very mountainous and 75 per cent of it is not usable and non-rateable. So the future of this district is actually the offshore sea-space area."

With the improvements now formally given the green light, the town is already looking forward to additional benefits of the investment.

"It's a huge injection of confidence. What we're trying to do is create a lot of social outcomes - positive social outcomes - and you can't do that with such a huge amount of infrastructure that's needed.

"Everybody has been focused on trying to better our district, to provide jobs and all the things that follow on. If we can lift our median income then people can afford to buy houses. We've got to get all this infrastructure in place and we've got to help our people move forward and know they've got jobs."

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