Harbour rebuilt in half the time
Twelve months ago, marine operators stared in disbelief at the carnage the earthquake wrecked on Kaikoura’s South Bay.
The violent 7.8-magnitude quake, which struck just after midnight on November 14, lifted the seabed in and around the harbour more than a metre.
As Whale Watch boats floundered at their moorings, tourism operators, commercial and recreational fishermen and Coastguard Kaiko¯ura were left high and dry.
Whale Watch general manager Kauahi Ngapora said he never thought the coastline would lift as it did. ‘‘I hoped beyond hope the water level would return - but it never did.’’
Lynette Buurman, who co-owns Encounter Kaiko¯ura together with Dennis Buurman and Ian Bradshaw, said they thought something was going on with the tides.
‘‘It was such a major event it took a while for the scale of what happened to be realised.’’
In February, work started on removing a massive amount of material to restore the seabed to pre-quake levels.
The Government initially funded $5 million for the harbour rebuild, but it soon became clear it was not enough, and Whale Watch, Encounter Kaiko¯ura and the Kaiko¯ura District Council stepped up with the $1m shortfall.
The project was set to take a year, however operators were desperate to get their businesses back up and running.
Coastguard Kaiko¯ura’s slipway opened in July.
North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) marina rebuild project manager Stu Haynes said the harbour rebuild had been ‘‘bloody challenging’’ to construct while trying to keep operations open for stakeholders, but they managed to deliver a 15-month construction project in nine months.
‘‘In the ideal world you would put a gate across it and tell everyone to get out, and leave it alone for six months but businesses need to earn revenue and keep their business afloat.
‘‘We rearranged the programme around everyone to suit, and staged it in sections so the different operators were able to keep running.’’
Ngapora said the last year had been a period of survival, adaptation, challenge and hard work, and it was not over yet.
Business almost stopped overnight until the Inland Rd opened and a ‘‘trickle’’ of tourists filtered in.
It took 49 days for the commercial whale watching business to get to sea with one boat, and one tour a day.
Tours could be carried out only at high tide, which limited operations drastically. Like everyone else who used the harbour, they had to navigate new tidal levels and build temporary infrastructure until excavations were completed.
Whale Watch had a 60 per cent fall in visitor numbers and was operating at 20 per cent of its capability. Ngapora expected it would be another 18 months before business returned to pre-quake levels, but bookings were strong, he said.
‘‘Together our team have navigated some very dark moments and we’ve made it to this point, and we will fully recover this business.’’
Encounter Kaiko¯ura owners agreed it was an incredible feat to have the project finished in a year.
‘‘I expect a project of this magnitude, with the planning, consent process and implementation would normally take three years,’’ Bradshaw said.
‘‘After the earthquake I couldn’t see the problems being resolved in the immediate future - it looked almost like a Herculean task.
‘‘To do it all in 12 months is an outstanding feat.’’
Dennis Buurman said adding a tender jetty for visiting cruise ships was great as it had always been an issue not having somewhere for cruise ship passengers to disembark.
‘‘I guess you get over the pain. Now we can look back and all the heartache dissipates when you look at what it is now.’’
Arrests after league win
Police arrested 53 people in Otahuhu, south Auckland, after celebrations turned ugly following Tonga’s Rugby League World Cup win over the Kiwis on Saturday. Senior Sergeant Clive Wood said people ‘‘let off fireworks near a petrol station, threw missiles at police, obstructed roads and footpaths and behaved in a very disorderly manner’’ in Otahuhu’s main shopping area from 9pm. At one stage, an ambulance was prevented from getting to a medical emergency, he said. More than 50 police officers were redeployed from other duties to control the situation. One policeman said there were also concerns with so many children on the streets late at night, and with people hanging out of moving cars. One young boy was seen jumping up and down on a van roof, and many people were wandering between the traffic. Otahuhu’s roads were clogged with cars waving the red Tongan flag out of their windows and honking horns. Tonga was behind 16-2 at halftime against the Kiwis in Hamilton, but scored a flurry of tries to take the lead in the second half, winning 28-22.
A child drowned after he fell off a wharf in Devonport, on Auckland’s North Shore, about 3pm on Saturday. The 5-year-old boy was rescued by the Coastguard shortly after falling into the water but could not be revived, a police spokesperson said. Two people went into the water to try to rescue the boy.
Police have launched a homicide investigation after a young mother was killed in south Auckland. Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum said officers were called to a house in Manurewa about 1am on Sunday. They found the body of a woman aged in her 20s inside the house. A neighbour said the family that lived in the house was Fijian-Indian and were ‘‘friendly and very nice people’’. The neighbour said the deceased woman was a mother with a young daughter, aged 3 or 4 years old.
The rebuilt South Bay Marina has a jetty for Encounter Kaiko¯ura boats, a new tender jetty for visiting cruise ships and four berths for Whale Watch boats, as well as an extended boat ramp.