Ahuriri was irreversibly changed in 1931, when the earthquake drained the lagoon and tidal flats of water, reducing the once 1550ha lagoon to almost 12 per cent of its original size.
Now, the council also hopes to change the estuary just as dramatically, with the new aspirational Ahuriri Estuary and Coastal Edge Masterplan providing a 19-step blueprint to bring environmentalism and vibrancy back to the area.
Napier City Council's Director City Strategy, Richard Munneke , said the plan would mean the estuary could become a treasure for all of Hawke's Bay.
"It puts the estuary, which is a jewel, into the spotlight," Munneke said.
"We wanted to do the plan in an aspirational way, which recognises it's got issues around water quality and things like that, but that you could also really enhance the recreation, and all sorts of other opportunities," Munneke said.
The plan has 19 projects in total, with the first 12 in the council's Long Term Plan.
They include developing an upgrade to Pandora Rd and Meeanee Quay, upgrading Humber St reserve and extending the Hawke's Bay Trials pathway along Meeanee Quay to Westshore Point.
Munneke said in the short term the most noticeable change would be the upgrade of Humber Reserve, which is due to start next year.
"There will be some good things happening around the Humber St area," Munneke said.
The space would be designed to facilitate sporting events, especially water sports.
Extra parking, a wharewaka to hold waka and other water craft, and a coastal ecology themed playground were all on the table in terms of creating a premium recreation area.
Another short term initiative is the stormwater upgrade.
"There's a lot of work being done on the stormwaters and starting to create wetlands," Munneke said.
The aim is to prevent heavy metals from storm run-off ending up the estuary, by creating a stormwater 'polishing' wetlands.
Munneke said while people may not notice the stormwater upgrade as much as the recreation areas, it was an important foundation for the council to get right.
"You won't see anything but it will be happening."
The area has had problems in the past with stormwater combining with sewage, incidents Munneke says are rare, but still important to avoid.
"Even though it's extremely diluted, we don't want to have sewage in the estuary," Munneke said.
"So there are solutions being looked at around that too."
Munneke said he was particularly excited about creating a regional park around Lagoon Farm.
"I guess my analogy is that every great city has a really great park and I'd like to see that become Napier's, or even Hawke's Bay's great park."
Munneke said the council was thankful for the public support for the project, and the submissions they had received during the consultation phase.
They had received 33 written submissions, and 27 through the council website.
300 people attended public meetings, and a series of nine posts on Facebook reached 128 350 users through likes, comments and shares.
"We've been very, very encouraged by the level of support from the community about the plan."
"If we can do this plan, it'll be such a great thing."
Hawke's Bay Regional Council's Group Manager Asset Management Chris Dolley said HBRC supported the plan, which invested significantly in addressing water quality issues in the area.
"The plans for the stormwater system is a step change in addressing water quality issues in that area which the regional council is 100% supportive of."
"We are looking forward to seeing more detail of the plan."
HBRC marine scientist Anna Madarasz-Smith said the plan accounts for a range of values.
"Napier City Council's plan looks at Ahuriri Estuary, with a different angle on how it plans to move water through the city, to account for a range of values we hold for the estuary overall, not only recreational but also ecological."
With the first of the projects due to kick off next year, the plan, if completed in its entirety, is not expected to be finished until 2041.
The plan was created by Napier City Council in consultation with Mana Ahuriri, Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the Department of Conservation.
First 11 projects, included in NCC's long term plan: *Ahuriri Masterplan Stormwater Study. Estimated Timeframe, 2023-2025. Estimated Cost, $306k.
*Stormwater Treatment Wetland. Estimated Timeframe, 2023-2025.Estimated Cost, $2.625m.
*Improvements to Direct Outfalls. Estimated Timeframe, 2020-2021. Estimated Cost, $1.253m.
*Upper Catchment Stormwater Quality Improvements. Estimated Timeframe, 2021-2023. Estimated Cost, $1.080m.
*Pandora Catchment Stormwater Quality System. Estimated Timeframe, 2019-2021. Estimated Cost, $1.248m.
*Pandora Rd Upgrade. Estimated Timeframe, 2026-2028. Estimated Cost, $1.186m.
*Meeanee Quay Upgrade. Estimated Timeframe, 2022-2027. Estimated Cost, $2.950m.
*Thames/Severn Sts Stormwater Management (from road). Estimated Timeframe, 2020-2021. Estimated Cost, $541k.
*West Quay North. Estimated Timeframe, 2019-2021. Estimated Cost, $829k.
*West Quay Carpark. Estimated Timeframe 2020-2022. Estimated Cost, $2.645m.
*Bridge St Improvements. Estimated Timeframe, 2025 - 2028. Estimated Cost, $5.148m