People trickled into Whanganui's Duncan Pavilion to find out more about Te Pūwaha, the port revitalisation project, during an open day yesterday.
The event included a series of public talks last night.
The project is led by a governance group made up of Whanganui iwi, Whanganui District and Horizons Regional Councils. Also in the mix is Whanganui business Q-West Boat Builders, which will move into a new building at the port's central wharf, with supporting industries alongside.
The next cab off the rank is to repair the river mouth's North Mole.
A draft concept plan for added car parking and amenities there was revealed last week. The enlarged car park area will be raised to restore the "cliff" in Castlecliff, with paths down to the sandy beach.
Horizons Regional Council is undertaking the mole repair, and project engineer Dougal Ross has received tenders for the 30,000 tonnes of rock that will be needed.
Ross will get advice on which tender to choose from Te Mata Puau, a group of people mandated to represent local hapū, with Hayden Turoa as their link to the project. Nani Waitai, Chris Shenton, Kahurangi Simon, Gavin Brooks and Jen Tamakehu are members of that group.
Their advice will be in line with the values of Te Awa Tupua, as set out in its 2017 legislation.
The mole repair is to be finished by the end of 2022.
Repairs to South Mole, due to start in November 2022, are not yet designed but will include the restoration of the Tanae groyne, which will protect boats in the port from the worst waves, and a South Spit embayment.
"The whole idea of the moles is to constrain the river and speed it up, so that it will scour out the bottom and maintain the channel depth," Ross said.
Meanwhile, Port Employment Precinct operations manager Craig Garner is working from The Backhouse in Taupo Quay. He's employed full-time by the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust (WDETT) to prepare people for jobs at the port.
The jobs could be in marine engineering, welding or electricity, and people not in education or training can be assisted to get and keep labouring jobs.
New Zealand's Marine Industry Training Organisation has pledged to help, and Garner is working mainly with secondary school students in Years 11, 12 and 13.
The project is expected to create more than 250 jobs within three years, after Q-West Boat Builders gets work refurbishing boats as well as building them.
It's impossible to predict exactly what the jobs will be, Garner said.
"The reality is, there's an unknown aspect. We're getting people ready for jobs that may evolve in the future."
Jock Lee and Kahureremoa Aki are the community representatives on Te Pūwaha. Lee has a background in governance, environment and marine business, and his role has been leading community engagement.
"I pride myself on being the architect of these processes, rather than the builder," Lee said.
The first phase of the project was to establish a structure and process that fits the Te Awa Tupua legislation. After that the community engagement had to fit with kawa (Māori protocols).
He's had a lot of experience with port developments and the Wellington waterfront, and believes the project is heading in the right direction.
"What works is co-design, and from there you are establishing relationships that are going to persist right through the project," he said.