Har­bour re­built in half the time

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - PIPPA BROWN

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.

Boy drowns

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.

Homi­cide in­quiry

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.

PHOTO: PIPPA BROWN/STUFF

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.

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