A first stab at work to repair Whanganui's South Mole will begin this summer, Horizons Regional Council river manager Ramon Strong says.

The first step will be to fortify its base.

In preparation for that Horizons staff are planning technical aspects, sourcing rock to use and getting resource consent.

Maintenance of the mole has been deferred for a number of years, Strong said. But it and other structures are needed to keep the Whanganui River in its current alignment, which in turn is essential for keeping Whanganui's port functioning, and revitalising it.

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In 2017 Whanganui District and Horizons Regional councils agreed that Horizons was best placed to manage alignment in the lower reaches of the river. Accordingly, Horizons made funding provision in its Long Term Plan.

It budgeted $4.9 million to be spent over 30 years, with most of the spending in the first 10 years. Whanganui District Council is to provide 25 per cent of what's needed to repair the North and South moles, over that time.

The money Horizons will spend will be collected as rates - 20 per cent from the river and drainage rate across the whole Horizons Region and 80 per cent from Whanganui ratepayers, as an addition to their river management rate.

To get the work happening faster, the two councils are also lobbying Government for more money - to "bring the structures back to a more acceptable standard".

During the last election campaign the Labour Party promised $3 million to repair the North and South moles.