Consultation Findings on the Chatham Islands – Wharf Facilities Study

The consultants working for the Chatham Island Enterprise Trust, Chatham Islands Council and the Department of Internal Affairs for the Chatham Islands- Wharf Facilities Study received a fantastic turnout for meetings and corresponding response forms on the project.

The project team received the majority of feedback while on the Islands between 9 to 15 December. The schedule of appointments and meeting with key stakeholders, community and government organisations and individuals proved very engaging. The formal response forms received to-date has also supported the feedback while on the Island.

While response forms have only been initially evaluated, what can be ascertained from the feedback is invaluable to ensure that engineering options are generally consistent with the feedback. This highlights the importance of the individual feedback obtained through the response forms. The organisations involved in the project would like to thank all those who gave their time and effort during the consultation process.

The following is a general list of consultation findings:

  • The existing facilities at Waitangi and Flower Pot are not to a standard nor operated in a manner that is satisfactory to either users, operators, or the standards expected of industries where products are being transported. Also there are some health and safety matters that need to be addressed through re-development opportunities.
  • The Pitt Island feedback was consistent with the desire to consolidate investment at Flower Pot, where the existing Island had focused its operations in terms of movement of goods, services and stock on and off the Island. Those who attended consultation on Pit Island, indicated that Simeons, Glory Bay and Paramatta were alternative sites that did not hold merit in development due to the existing expectation of transporting stock. Also the feedback obtained from the community at Pitt Island advised of the inadequacies of the existing barge in terms of size and type.
  • Almost all feedback has identified that the most logical sites to be developed are Waitangi and Flower Pot, in terms of investing in assets that are going to provide the necessary certainty to sustain the interested business sectors. It should be noted that some people consulted indicated that Port Hutt was a viable site in terms of a safe haven and berthing potential (with development). However those people also recognised the issues of distance to Waitangi from Port Hutt and the associated cost of upgrading the existing infrastructure, additional transport distance and the fuel storage assets being located at Waitangi.
  • Developments are needed at Waitangi and Flower Pot to provide certainty of berthing in nearly all weather conditions. The scale of those developments range physically, environmentally and economically. The necessity of developments is critical for a safe haven, providing reliability and efficiency of berthing and to complement government and international (e.g. MAF’s AWAC and the EU) standards.
  • The Waitangi wharf options put forward in the consultation brochure was a good starting point for discussions, however Option 1 (establish a breakwater) was not supported in the form shown, however another form of breakwater was supported by some. A variety of designs have been received mostly providing a breakwater along the northwest face of the wharf.
  • The level of detail in the potential wharf developments and designs through consultation was extensive. This is attributed to the method of consultation, the response form and how reliant Islander’s are on the wharf for their health, wellbeing and businesses. This also supports those findings of the social enquiries. The designs generally included:
    • Develop a reclamation (hard stand area over the marine environment) between the fishermen’s wharf and towards Waitangi. That reclamation will have berthing facilities for a larger vessel and also for small fishing boats.
    • Redeveloping the existing Waitangi wharf, with removal of the stock wharf and replace the decking.
    • Establish a form of breakwater adjoining the wharf, either with precast concrete panels or large (protective) rock on the northwest side of the existing wharf.
    • Relocate the Waitangi moorings to the south, complementary to those berthing facilities potentially for fishing boats. The breakwater is to ensure certainty of berthing and a safe haven and unimpeded agriculture and fishing operations.
    • Re-establish the breakwater and wharf at Flowerpot.

The feedback received recognised that for the Chatham Islands to progress economically and socially and move to a thriving economy, the wharf facility improvements are necessary. In accepting that the economy is in “survival mode” at present, the wharf facilities associated with the supporting infrastructure is possibly one of the best methods to obtain a step-change to the economy, even if those improvements do not provide an instant solution.

While the designs listed above have been suggested by the feedback, the project team is working through the practicality of such designs and what is technically, economically and environmentally appropriate, whilst still meeting the objectives of the project.

Consultation feedback has consistently highlighted three main drivers, namely the sustainability of the agriculture and fishing industry and the importance of meeting health and safety requirements for all wharf operations. Agriculture and fishing sectors are the main economic contributors, with both industries reliant on the wharf facilities and their effective and safe operations. Complementary to these drivers is that the wharf developments should support the Island moving into a thriving economy where socially and culturally the population can thrive, succeed generations and address some of the recognised hardship.

A number of leaders in the community have identified that this wharf facilities study and any eventual development is only one of a number of projects that will enable economic growth on the Island. Some of the suggested projects including electricity generation and airport projects have been recognised. However, they do not form part of the current project scope, but will be briefly outlined in the final report, as complementary projects.

The project report is to be prepared by early February 2012 and when accepted by the organisations involved in the project, a further media release will summarise the findings.