Made of mus­cle

Boating NZ - - Contents - BY LAWRENCE SCHÄF­FLER

A barge cre­ated for a com­mu­nity.

More than just a new­ly­launched mus­sel barge, Kuku­tai rep­re­sents a suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween a de­signer, a builder and a com­mu­nity.

Auck­land-based Mcmullen & Wing, ac­claimed for its 50- year his­tory span­ning com­mer­cial ves­sels and award- win­ning yachts, in­clud­ing the vic­to­ri­ous 1995 Amer­ica’s Cup boat NZL32 ( Black Magic), joined forces with a Bay of Plenty iwi and a lo­cal mus­sel farming com­pany to build Kuku­tai.

Com­mis­sioned by Whakatōhea Mus­sels, New Zealand’s largest off­shore mus­sel farm, Kuku­tai was con­structed with help from lo­cal Opotiki youth.

The mus­sel farm is part of the Whakatōhea Maori Trust Board’s long-term vi­sion to cre­ate pros­per­ity and sus­tain­able em­ploy­ment for the re­gion and its peo­ple. As part of its part­ner­ship with Whakatōhea Mus­sels and the Whakatōhea Maori Trust Board, Mcmullen & Wing de­vel­oped a trainee pro­gramme to give Opotiki school leavers a path­way into a life-long ca­reer.

With a build-time of just over nine months, Kuku­tai’s stand­out fea­tures in­clude a high-sta­bil­ity plat­form de­signed for the ex­posed open ocean lo­ca­tion of the Opotiki mus­sel farm, com­fort­able in­te­rior con­di­tions for farm work­ers, and a range of eco-fo­cused fea­tures to min­imise en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and max­imise end prod­uct qual­ity.

Mcmullen & Wing CEO Michael Ea­glen says he wanted to help Whakatōhea Mus­sels’ in­vest­ment to de­liver for the Opotiki com­mu­nity be­yond sim­ply build­ing a great farming ves­sel.

“We wanted to play our part in max­imis­ing the so­cial re­turn of this project. We felt the best and most last­ing way that we could con­trib­ute was to es­tab­lish an em­ploy­ment pro­gramme that pro­vides young peo­ple from Opotiki with skills that would set them up for life.

“Our trainee pro­gramme gives th­ese young peo­ple a ca­reer path­way in a grow­ing in­dus­try where de­mand for skilled work­ers is strong. I ad­mire th­ese young em­ploy­ees for their courage and ded­i­ca­tion: leav­ing school and home, en­ter­ing the work­force in a new city, learn­ing new skills and work­ing hard ev­ery day. I’m very proud of all of them and see a bright fu­ture here for them.”

The three young work­ers, all be­tween the ages of 17 and 18, re­ceived train­ing in metal work and con­struc­tion skills which they were able to ap­ply di­rectly to the build­ing of the ves­sel, which it­self will di­rectly ben­e­fit their own com­mu­nity.

Whakatōhea Mus­sels chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Vi­taso­vich says em­ploy­ment op­tions for young peo­ple are lim­ited in Opotiki.

“We’re work­ing hard in the re­gion to grow op­por­tu­ni­ties for our peo­ple and we are thrilled Mcmullen and Wing have this vi­sion to use our project to help us ex­pand the op­tions even more broadly.” BNZ

BE­LOW Kuku­tai has been built to ser­vice the coun­try’s largest mus­sel farm.

LEFT Whakatōhea elder Josie Mortensen smashes the cham­pagne across the barge’s bow.

We wanted to play our part in max­imis­ing the so­cial re­turn of this project.

BOT­TOM Broad and sta­ble, she’s the ideal mus­sel barge.

BE­LOW Trainees from Opotiki were em­ployed to help build the barge.

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