$15 million commercial wharf opens in Thames

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Resources Minister Shane Jones at the official opening of the Kopu Business and Marine Precinct in Thames. Photo: NZME.

A $15 million commercial wharf and floating pontoon in Thames, designed to boost the region’s aquaculture industry, is open for business.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Resources Minister Shane Jones were on hand to officially open the Kopu Business and Marine Precinct on Friday.

It’s been more than a decade since the concept for a new marina in the town was born.

Peters said the project was an example of what strategic government investment could do to support regions to maximise their potential.

The infrastructure would support local industries, increase access to the Waikato’s natural resources and create enduring employment opportunities for the region, he said.

“It allows an expanded, unsealed haul-out area, upgraded commercial reinforced slipway, and public recreational boat ramp and trailer parking area that will deliver enhanced marine productivity for Thames-Coromandel by improving access to the Hauraki Gulf.”

Currently 11 per cent of aquaculture industry jobs in New Zealand were based in Thames-Coromandel and related activity in the district generated 800 jobs across the country.

The Kopu Business and Marine Precinct would work alongside the Sugar Wharf redevelopment, which received $19.85m of equity investment through the Provincial Growth Fund to redevelop the wharf to cater for increased consented marine areas and growing mussel production, he said.

“The Sugarloaf Wharf redevelopment has faced delays due to consenting challenges, that I understand the team are working very hard to overcome.

“Once delivered, both of these projects will help to ensure that infrastructure is an enabler of growth, not something that holds regions back.”

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Thames-Coromandel mayor Len Salt prepare for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo: NZME.

The project has been 10 years in the making after a survey of Kopu business operators in 2013 identified infrastructure and service needs for the business park upgrade and gateway concept.

The survey resulted in a concept plan analysis summary which was submitted by the Thames Community Board to the Proposed District Plan in favour of the concept plan.

The 80m-long structure was designed to enable in-water marine servicing and vessel loading.

The new facility included an unsealed haul-out area, an upgraded commercial slipway, a public boat ramp and a trailer parking area.

Thames-Coromandel mayor Len Salt said there had been many challenges and now was the time to put aside politics and focus on the big picture.

“I know there was robust debate around this.”

Salt said it was about celebrating all the people who did all the work.

“I do not take credit; this will still be here in up to 80 years’ time, up to 100 new jobs and $58.5 million for the economy.

“That is what is exciting.

“We are looking forward to this being the gateway to new opportunities.”

The Kopu Business and Marine Precinct under construction in September 2023. Photo: NZME.

The project cost was met through a $8.2m grant from the Government’s Crown Infrastructure Partners Fund bolstered with central, regional, district and community funds.

Another $4.05m came from the Three Waters Reform Better Off funding from the Department of Internal Affairs, and $1.4 from the Thames Community Board’s Thames Urban General-Purpose Reserve.

The 80m-long structure has been designed to enable in-water marine servicing and vessel loading. Photo: NZME.

A further $565,000 was granted from the Waikato Regional Council’s Regional Fund while the Thames Community Board had underwritten the contingency shortfall with external funding sought for the remaining $565,000.

The project was originally costed at $10m and initially received an $8.2m grant from a Government infrastructure fund in 2020 - part of the $50 billion Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

The cost would have blown out further if major contracts weren’t signed before July 27, 2022, which mitigated the financial pressures brought on by inflation, supply-chain issues and a tight labour market.

The fund aimed to provide opportunities to redeploy regional skills and training through so-called “shovel-ready” projects.

Project timeline

2024 - Kopu Marine Servicing and Business Precinct opened.

2020 - $8.2m approved by the Government for the development of a marine and business precinct in Kopu.

2018 - A feasibility study for Kopu was completed and an application to the central government Provincial Growth Fund for a business case to progress the project was approved.

2015 - Kopu Doing Business Better programme was launched. A working group was established with representation from our TCDC staff, NZTA, Waikato Regional Council, iwi and the Kopu Landowners Association. In conjunction with BECA, a professional services consultancy, a draft Kopu development concept plan was produced. The draft Kopu development concept plan was submitted to the council’s Proposed District Plan.

2014 - With input from the working group, BECA produced a draft Kopu development concept plan - Stage 1 report was presented to Kopu businesses on in March 2014 for their comment and submission to the Proposed District Plan. Thames Community Board submitted to the Proposed District Plan in favour of the concept plan. This concept plan was intended to be a development framework which would form an additional layer of detail to the Kopu to Thames Structure Plan.

2013 - A survey of Kopu business operators was conducted which helped identify infrastructure and service needs and ideas for the Kopu business park upgrade and gateway concept. The survey resulted in the Kopu Concept Plan Analysis Summary.

1 comment

So, Winston

Posted on 25-06-2024 12:16 | By DaveTheCynic

Had nothing to do with the project until it was finished?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment.