Te Araroa community call for end to barge plan as new designs released

5:40 pm on 22 September 2021

New concept designs for a controversial barging facility on the East Cape have been released as the community repeats its call for the proposal to be put to bed.

Hinerupe Marae trustee Kararaina Ngatai-Melbourne

Hinerupe Marae trustee Kararaina Ngatai-Melbourne is leading the objections to the barge proposal. Photo: LDR / Alice Angeloni

The Te Araroa Barge Working Group, set up to address concerns about the barge proposal and "determine a way forward", has released the designs and launched a new website and Facebook page.

Marine engineering firm Worley, engaged by the group, has recommended moving the facility

500 metres east of the Karakatuwhero River mouth and adding a maritime research centre, small boat ramp, waka ama launch area and search and rescue base.

It follows a hikoi of about 200 whānau in August, who marched in "total opposition" to a barge facility at Te Araroa and in the wider Matakaoa rohe.

Hikoi opposing a barge facility at Te Araroa and the wider Matakaoa area

The hikoi that took place last month. Photo: Supplied / Te Karere

The working group says the facility, which would enable logs and other products to be barged rather than trucked to coastal ports, would give the region the "much-needed hand-up" and help unlock tourism, aquaculture and agriculture potential.

Hinerupe Marae trustee Kararaina Ngatai-Melbourne said whānau did not just oppose the building of the facility in their rohe but also wanted to see an end to the proposal as resolved at a Te Whānau a Hinerupe hui in July.

The new proposed site was in hāpu Te Whānau a Hinerupe waters, as defined by the Ngā Rohe Moana o Ngā Hāpu o Ngāti Porou, and as the gift from her older sister Te Aopare, she said.

"The working party is represented largely by people who do not live here. Our two local whānau that are on there are representing us, not the barge [facility]."

Members of the community have continuously opposed the proposal since it was first put forward by Māori landowners Te Rimu Trust in 2015.

The proposed barge facility would require opening a navigation channel through the beach barrier to a safe harbour basin dredged to four metres deep in the lagoon behind the beach.

The navigation channel would be protected by two breakwaters extending offshore.

The harbour would be designed to take self-propelled barges of about 80m long and each barge could carry about 4500 tonnes of logs - or about 90 truck and trailer loads.

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The revised proposal. Photo: Supplied /

Facility would create jobs, reduce welfare dependency - advocate

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Tiwana Tibble Photo: Supplied

In a statement released last week, working group secretary Tiwana Tibble said the government was prepared to put in up to $45 million if they could get "sufficient support" from the community and a favourable environmental report.

"This northern part of the East Coast district is one of the most economically and socially deprived in the country, with a median annual income of $18,500 and a third of people in fulltime work.

"Having this logistics hub - the barge facility and adjacent airstrip - will create and sustain jobs, reduce deprivation, reduce benefit dependency, lift the socioeconomic level and improve community health and wellbeing.

"It could make our roads safer, with fewer log trucks on the highway to Gisborne and reduced carbon emissions . . . and it could save lives."

Tibble said jobs would be created in the facility's construction, operation and support services, and would lead to improved use of Māori assets and further regional housing development.

The statement said there was a "strong show of support" for the facility at a Te Whānau a Kahu-led hui in June 2021.

Ngatai-Melbourne and others in attendance disputed this.

A barge hui was scheduled today at Tutua Marae for kaumatua over 65 years.

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