Kaipara's maritime history has taken a major step forward with the opening of Dargaville's $650,000 wharf pontoon.
A formal blessing by Te Uri o Hau kaumatua Rex Nathan signalled the start of a new phase for the harbour's history.
The town's wharf is now useable after the addition of the floating pontoon and gangway linking it to the wharf in the Northern Wairoa River in Dargaville.
The pontoon rises and falls with the big Northern Wairoa River tidal variations at the wharf - restoring it as the Kaipara Harbour's major northern link.
"The pontoon is the first of a significant number of renaissance projects for Dargaville," Dr Jason Smith, Kaipara Mayor said.
About 50 people turned out to the blessing including local iwi, hapū, construction staff and community.
It forms a pivotal link from Helensville, Auckland on Kaipara Harbour's southern shores through to Tāne Mahuta, New Zealand's largest kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest and north to Hokianga Harbour.
Nathan said the new pontoon rekindled opportunity for the travel on the river his people had traditionally done. Kaipara hapū would travel between marae and beyond with the Northern Wairoa River and Kaipara harbour their main transport route.
He said two taniwha, Popopoko and Rangiriri, lived in the river and traditionally protected those who travelled its waters.
Kaipara Harbour is the biggest of its type in New Zealand at 950 square kilometres, its 3200km shoreline the longest in the Southern Hemisphere.
"I'm looking forward to all the great things that are going to happen, now we have the pontoon" Smith said.
"This will be of benefit to Dargaville and Helensville. Aucklanders will be able to come and experience Dargaville.
"All we need now is an entrepreneur to start a boat up from Auckland north to here," Smith said at the pontoon's official blessing.
Two years' work has gone into the pontoon's final arrival.
The pontoon and gangway were built in Auckland and installed with a floating crane.
The pontoon is part of the Kaipara Harbour Wharves project, aimed at reviving its modern maritime history.
The crane will return to Kaipara Harbour early next year, to start work on a second floating pontoon, this time at Pahi, which is one of three developments for the harbour with the Kaipara Harbour wharves project. The third will be a new wharf at Pouto.
The floating crane will now be dismantled and taken in five truckloads to Auckland's Half Moon Bay Marina for extension of that boating facility.
Smith said the pontoon would make it easier for the community to access the harbour.
It would be of particular value for 'manu bombing' into the water from the wharf.
Bombing was a Kaipara Harbour thing that also happened at Pahi.
He said the Kaipara Harbour Wharves project was one of three aspects in the Kaipara Kickstart programme that also included major roading and developing local food crop business through Kaipara Kai.
Dargaville's Isobel Pook was among community members at the blessing. She is part of a well-known Kaipara Harbour maritime family that started with Kahu and Edward Pook who had 17 children.
She said it was good to see the new pontoon. But she wanted to see that it was used properly, safely and as intended.