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Whitianga: Plans to restore old Ferry Landing Wharf

Plans to restore old Ferry Landing Wharf

The Whitianga Ferry Landing Historic Wharf is one of the oldest working stone wharves in the Southern Hemisphere.

Through a Council and community partnership our plan is to restore the existing stone wharf by recovering old stone blocks from the sea floor beside the wharf. These blocks will be used to rebuild the original stone steps and sections of a missing wall. Divers have sighted the stones, which are at a depth of 2-4m of water. Old concrete pumps bases will be removed and bollards will be installed. A new derrick and pavers will be rebuilt, along with landscaping.

The project is in partnership with the our Council, Historic Places Trust, iwi, Institute of Engineers and the Mercury Bay community.

Why we're doing it
The Wharf is classified as a Grade One structure by Historic Places Trust and is in need of restoration and we want to preserve an iconic historical building.

The project will raise the historical heritage profile of Mercury Bay during the kauri logging period. It is also culturally significant to Mercury Bay iwi Ngati Hei, whose ancestors helped build the wharf.

Due to its historic significance it will be a tourist destination and help promote Whitianga and the wider Mercury Bay as a tourist destination.

"Restoring the Ferry Landing wharf is part of our focus in improving and maintaining our coastal and harbour areas," says Council Mercury Bay Area Manager Sam Marshall. "Improving infrastructure like boat ramps, wharves and coastal protection work only gives people more reasons to come and want to visit.

"We have a very committed group who have come together as a working group," says Mercury Bay Community Board Chairperson Paul Kelly. "These are people who are passionate about preserving and showcasing our historical heritage and also helps to showcase Mercury Bay for its uniqueness."

"We welcome any help that people may want to offer in terms of support for this project." says Mr Kelly.

Who's Involved
Along with initial consultation a working party has been formed which includes:
• Ngati Hei iwi.
• Historic Places Trust
• Institute of Engineers (John La Roche and Mike Lancaster)
• Heritage archaeologist Brenda Sewell
• Local residents Toby Morcom and Alison Henry along with retired engineer Bob Nicholls
• Mercury Bay Community Board Chair Paul Kelly
• Thames-Coromandel District council staff - Mercury Bay Area Manager Sam Marshall, Project Engineer Steve Bremner.
• Waikato Regional Council
• Department of Conservation
• Mercury Bay Ferries

Community involvement and help is always gratefully received. If you want to be part of the project please email our Mercury Bay Community Coordinator cathy.klouwens@tcdc.govt.nz

Historical Background
The Ferry Landing Historic Wharf is a Council owned asset and represents significant cultural and heritage qualities. Located on the Cooks Beach side of the harbour it's used daily by the ferry service transporting people to and from Whitianga/Ferry Landing.

The wharf was central to supporting kauri logging activities in this era and part of the original 1837 stone wharf still remains. It was added to in 1864 to expand flat land for the timber mill which operated there as the Auckland Sawmill company from 1863-1881. The wharf has been modified over the years with a raised concrete foundation, petrol bowsers and timber derrick and steps for ferry access. The earliest part of the stone wharf still exists as freestone blocks at the northern end. Later additions are more regular shaped blocks.

The wharf was constructed as part of Gordon Browne's timber and spar camp and the local iwi (Ngati Hei) provided labour to construct the wharf. There's a historic pa within close proximity of the wharf. Associated with the development of the timber industry in New Zealand, a sawmill operated from 1863 -1881 when it was transferred to the other side of the river. This sawmill was the first in Mercury Bay to supply the Auckland market with timber and was the main reason for founding Whitianga township.

The Historic Places Trust has rated this site as Category A - the highest grade. The NZ Institute of Professional Engineers has also supporters of the refit of the wharf as it's one of, if not the oldest surviving structures in the country. What's more it's still, being used for its original purpose.

The intention is to restore the stonework, renew the pavements, recreate the ferry signal, derrick and marine bollards and remove the old petrol pump bases. Landscaping will also be introduced.

As this is a partnership project with our Council, iwi Historic Places Trust, and the wider community, funding is being sourced through a variety of ways, including applying for a Lotteries Commission grant. As part of the eligibility criteria our Council has to fund 1/3 share of the project, which we have committed to by proposing $256,000 in the draft 2014/2015 Annual Plan.

To find out more go to www.tcdc.govt.nz/oldferrylanding


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