The contract to build the second stage of the Bay of Islands Marina has been awarded to Total Marine Services, a New Zealand company with a branch in Opua. The $10 million project includes the land-based civil works associated with the expanded marina. Work will start in early September and is expected to take 18 months to complete.
An economic report commissioned by Far North Holdings from Auckland-based consultancy ME Economics indicates that the wider financial benefit to the region is in the order of $23m a year from Year Five, when the marina becomes fully operational. And research conducted by the Opua Business Association indicates that businesses in the town have forecast a 44 percent growth in turnover and an estimated 60 new positions as a result of the development.
Far North Holdings has reduced the number of new berths being built to accommodate an increase in the number of larger catamarans making the ocean crossing to New Zealand. The marina will now have 149 new berths, down from the 170 originally consented.
“We have deliberately designed our new facilities to cater for these larger boats,” said Andy Nock, CEO of Far North Holdings, which owns the marina. “Larger berths are not widely available in marinas around New Zealand so we’re aiming to catch as much of this growing market as possible.
“Our objective is to be flexible; having catamaran berths allows us to use them either for this purpose or to split them and use them for two mono-hull boats each. We will also now be able to offer whatever length of stay a boat owner wants, be it a day or a year.”
In addition to the new berths and marine-based infrastructure the expanded, new-look marina will feature a board-walk frontage and a landscaped recreational area. This will include seating, barbeques, a performance and entertainment stage and a play zone for children.
Far North Holdings’ Chairman Ross Blackman said the plan was to transform the land-based part of the marina from the “rather sterile, industrial place it is at the moment” into a venue that people will enjoy and bring their families to.
“We want to turn this place into one of the main centres for our community. That’s good for everyone; the people who live and work here, the people who want to berth here, and the businesses who’ve set themselves up here,” Mr Blackman said.
As part of the project Far North Holdings will be contributing to several development projects being promoted by the community. The Love Opua community development group has identified several new initiatives which are seen as important additions to the infrastructure of the town. The first project Far North Holdings hopes to start on is a fitness trail originally suggested by Opua School.
“This is a real example of co-ordinated planning by a diverse range of people and organisations in this terrific Opua community,” said Far North mayor John Carter. “Here we have a significant economic development project, the marina extension, being spearheaded by Far North Holdings and being tied into a communal vision of what the people of Opua want their town to become.”
Mr Nock expects to achieve an occupancy level of 40 percent of available berths within 12 months of the extension to the marina being completed.
“We will start taking reservations on the berths from 1 December 2016 but are only accepting bookings on half the berth number, just in case of any delays during the construction period caused by bad weather or similar unpredictable circumstances,” he said. “We’ve factored into our financial planning a pretty modest initial take-up reflecting this.
“Also, we’ve had to turn yachties away for so long due to lack of space; it will take time for the yachting community to realise that berth-space is no longer an issue in the Bay of Islands.”
Far North Holdings received seven bids for the contract; three for the marina component, three for the civil engineering works and Total Marine Services’ bid for both elements. An extensive, four-month due diligence period led to the final decision earlier this month (July).
“We reviewed each of the seven bids against four main criteria; quality, product specification, delivery and service,” Mr Nock said. “The new, expanded Bay of Islands Marina needs to be a cut above the average in order to attract new business in what is an extremely competitive market, and this starts with the build quality and the materials used.”
Total Marine Services demonstrated a good understanding of Far North Holdings’ vision for Bay of Islands Marina and wove this into its submissions, Mr Nock said. The company had put in a financially competitive bid, backed by the efficiencies involved in being able to undertake both the marine and civil engineering elements of the project.
Tim Yeates, a director of the Total Marine Group, said that winning the contracts to build the new marina extension and seawall would be a significant boost to the local economy. Up to 33 staff would be working on the project and nine of these positions were new jobs that would be filled by people from Opua. In addition, a number of local sub-contractors would be engaged to deliver specific aspects of the project.
Total Marine Services was committed to constructing the best marina facility in New Zealand and exceeding the expectations of FNHL, Mr Yeates said.
The start of work on the marina expansion will be marked by a community event and a celebration. Far North Holdings will announce details as soon as these have been confirmed.
About Far North Holdings Ltd:
Far North Holdings Limited (FNHL) is responsible for managing and operating the commercial activities of the Far North District Council. These include Port Opua, Bay of Islands Marina, Kaitaia and Bay of Islands Airports, Paihia Maritime Buildings and Paihia Wharf, Williams Road Car Park and the Kaitaia Education Campus.
Since 2005 all of FNHL’s trading surplus has either been distributed to the Far North District Council or reinvested in property and infrastructure within the Far North District. The Far North District Council estimates that without this financial contribution general rates would have been approximately four percent a year higher, each year, over this period.
FNHL’s mandate includes the support and development of economic activity in the Far North.
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