Regional | Te Pūwaha

Horizons Regional Council puts $400,000 into community-led Whanganui port project

The upgrade of Whanganui’s North Mole will receive $400,000 from Horizons Regional Council.

It is earmarked for soft scaping, including foredune and back dune reconstruction, plants, sand ladders and dune protection.

The project, part of port redevelopment Te Pūwaha and led by community and hapū-led collective Ngā Ringaringa Waewae, secured more than $876,275 in central government funding last year for hard structures at the mole and surrounding area.

Ngā Ringaringa Waewae spokesman Jamie Waugh said it was great to see Horizons follow through on the commitments made to the Castlecliff community.

“The contribution, together with contributions from Whanganui District Council, MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) and private and charitable funders will ensure enhanced biodiversity, improved environmental outcomes and climate resilience in balance with an improved amenity for the public.

“We are also grateful for hapū's leadership and generosity in helping community and councils understand how the voice of the environment can be amplified for the benefit of all.”

Horizons’ funding will sit alongside a further $1.05m allocated in Whanganui District Council’s long-term plan and $300,000 committed by the district council from the Government’s Better Off Funding.

Horizons chairwoman Rachel Keedwell said Horizons-led projects within Te Pūwaha created an impact on Te Awa Tupua - the 2017 Whanganui River legislation.

Horizons’ contributions to Te Pūwaha include strengthening the North Mole and revetment, upgrading erosion control structures along the South Spit and reinstating the Tanae Groyne.

“As a council and project partner, we want to own our impact and provide solutions that enhance the wellbeing of the Whanganui River,” Keedwell said.

“By offering funding towards this, we have the opportunity to give back more than we take and leave the awa in a healthier state, which in turn has a positive impact on our wider community.”

Horizons has also agreed to initial funding of $250,000 for 2024/25, with further funding of $250,000 in 2025/26 and $100,000 per year until 2034 to go through future annual planning processes.

That is conditional on it being part of a joint fund with the district council, along with the Better Off funding already provided for the hard structures.

“The specific mechanics and methodology are yet to be discussed with hapū and our project partners,” Keedwell said.

“As a first step, we wanted to formalise our commitment from Horizons so that we can come together as a collective with a resource available to contribute towards enhancing the health and wellbeing of the awa.”

She said the proposed methodology was to establish a governance approach where representatives of both councils, the community and hapū collectively decided how the money should be spent.

Te Pūwaha project chairwoman Kahureremoa Aki said the project continued to be “an incredible journey”.

“It is great to see that Horizons as a council is making these types of decisions.

“Our project has a number of interdependent aspects and the North and South moles need to be highlighted as critical aspects of this project.

“We have always sought to create abundance through this project, and this reconfirmation of commitment by the council to Te Awa Tupua means this can be achieved above and beyond these interdependent aspects.”

Keedwell said the first year of funding ($250,000) and the North Mole works had been allocated from within Horizons’ Te Pūwaha budget.

More funding would be needed to deliver all components of Te Pūwaha committed to by Horizons, she said.

“We acknowledge this and remain committed to all upcoming components of this project, including the Tanae Groyne, South Spit and South Mole.

“Horizons are progressing with the design and planning process for each component which will provide us with budget forecasts for these areas of work, and therefore determine whether additional funding is required for our agreed project outcomes.”

Te Pūwaha brings together Horizons, Whanganui District Council, Q West Boat Builders and the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust, and is being delivered in partnership with hapū collective Te Mata Pūau.

- Whanganui Chronicle