Mangawhai wharf project on knife-edge

Posted at 11:57am Monday 16 Nov, 2020 | By James Addis editor@localmatters.co.nz

An artist’s impression of the wharf in former times.
An artist's impression of the wharf in former times.

A charitable trust hoping to rebuild a historic wharf in Mangawhai has secured a $600,000 boost from the Government's “shovel-ready” infrastructure fund, but faces an agonising wait for the outcome of a resource consent hearing next week to see if the project can proceed.

The Mangawhai Historic Wharf Charitable Trust wants to replace the wharf that formerly lay at the end of Moir Street.

The original wharf was built in the 1880s and became a focal point for shipping logs and kauri gum, and for passengers boarding boats bound for Auckland.   

The wharf fell into disrepair after World War II and was dismantled in the 1950s.

The trust believes a reconstructed wharf will provide the community with a focal point for water activities, a platform for families to fish and picnic and a key attraction for Mangawhai's growing number of visitors.

The trust successfully raised $80,000 through an online fundraising campaign to fund an application for a resource consent for the wharf from Northland Regional Council.

The consent hearings concluded late last month and commissioners are expected to release their final decision on the consent around November 23.  

Those objecting to the consent application include the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Fairy Tern Charitable Trust, who argue that a reconstructed wharf poses a threat to the critically endangered fairy tern, which use the harbour during critical phases of their life cycle  

Mangawhai Historic Wharf Charitable Trust chair Colin Leach says there are particularly strong objections to a proposed pontoon and gangway that would be attached to the wharf to facilitate boat access and fishing.

In a bid to give the wharf project a greater chance of succeeding, the pontoon was dropped from the application.

If the application succeeds, Mr Leach says the wharf will only need a further $150,000, in addition to the pledged Government money, to complete it. Given the wide community support for the project, and the fact that the shortfall can be made up of volunteer labour or materials, he anticipates this will be relatively easy to find.   

Meanwhile, Heritage New Zealand has added its support to the wharf project.

Northland manager Bill Edwards says although the wharf will not be a heritage structure, “it will help restore Mangawhai's long standing connection with the sea, which is very much part of its history”.


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