Whanganui's port revitalisation project will highlight the values of Te Awa Tupua, Gerrard Albert, Te Pūwaha chairman, says.
Whanganui's Duncan Pavilion was packed at this week's public meeting on how Te Pūwaha, Whanganui's port revitalisation project, is progressing.
The Te Awa Tupua legislation recognises the relationship between the Whanganui River and Whanganui iwi and protects it through legal personhood.
Albert said the values in that legislation were community values.
Until recently iwi have been "a subset" in the region, but everyone was now saying the same thing, he said.
Albert worked for Horizons Regional Council for 10 years and knew how adversarial the resource consent process could be.
He said the Te Awa Tupua process now set in place would allow people to be involved in real time and while everyone would have their hand on the paddle that steers the waka, people would get a chance to have their say.
The Government's Provincial Development Unit (now Kānoa) almost decided against funding the port project when Covid-19 came along and "shovel-ready" projects were a priority.
"We had to fight them to save the project, or the investment in the project. We fought for that," he said.
Whanganui deputy mayor Jenny Duncan was happy to see so many different people gathered in the pavilion.
The project is a case of good things coming to those who wait, she said.
"It's going to work for our community and there are going to be a whole lot of things that will come out of it."
Project engineer Dougal Ross said the repaired moles would fix the river mouth in one place, narrow the flow and increase current to enable the river to scour silt out to sea.
Since the moles were built in the 1800s they have impounded sand to the north, creating a new 100ha of land with 300 homes.
North Mole repair will begin in November and take 12 months. The repair will stretch all the way back to Wharf 1, and the new surface will be 1m higher than previously to allow for sea level rise.
Its slope to the water's edge will be easier, and the work will be staged so that people can continue to use the area. There will be four fishing platforms instead of two, and consent for the work has been lodged.
Stage two will be repair of South Mole and rebuilding the Tanae Groyne. Stage 3 is upgrading South Spit features, including limiting the size of an embayment that let the river through in the 1940s and is now "too large".
Extras added to the North Mole area, such as a shower, toilets and a star compass, will not be covered by current funding.