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Source: New Zealand Government

Today Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash turned the sod for the new Whakatāne Commercial Boat Harbour, cut the ribbon for the revitalised Whakatāne Wharf, and inspected work underway to develop the old Whakatāne Army Hall into a visitor centre, all of which are part of the $36.8 million Government-funded Whakatāne Regeneration Programme.

“The Whakatāne Regeneration Programme aims to reinvigorate the Central Business District, re-establish connections to the riverfront and provide the necessary infrastructure to support development for local marine and tourism economies,” Stuart Nash said.

“This project is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when central government, local government and iwi work together, and I’m really proud of how it’s already transforming Whakatāne into the world-class small-town destination it deserves to be.”

The new boat harbour, named Te Rāhui Herenga Waka Whakatāne, will provide commercial boat operators with access to better facilities and more berths, with flow-on economic benefits for the community. It received $19.6 million in funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

“The new boat harbour is the cornerstone of Whakatāne’s economic recovery plan, helping to deliver social, economic, and environmental restoration. By breaking ground here today, we’re not just helping make space for more boats, we’re looking to the region’s future, supporting potential marine farming, boat building, and tourism.

“The boat harbour will cement Whakatāne as a hub of marine industry employment. I’m pleased that the fast-track consenting process has meant work has been able to start quickly, so that the community will be able to see the benefits sooner.” 

Minister Nash was also present with Mayor Judy Turner and Chief Executive of Whakatāne District Council, Steph O’Sullivan, to cut the ribbon marking the completion of remediation work at Whakatāne Wharf – the first stage, and a major milestone, in the greater Riverfront Revitalisation Project, which has received $9.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund.

“At over 100 years old, it’s not surprising that the Whakatāne Wharf needed some attention. Now that the remediation and strengthening work is completed, it’s already clear to see how this section of the wharf offers a greatly improved experience for residents and visitors.”

Minister Nash also visited the Kāinga transformation underway at the site of the Whakatāne Army Hall, where the old hall has been demolished in preparation for a new visitor centre to be built by Ngāti Awa, and which has received $7.6 million in funding from the Government’s NZ Upgrade Programme. 

“It’s terrific to see progress on the promenade and town centre underway, and I look forward to visiting again when the riverfront revitalisation is fully completed. When our Government invests in projects like this it’s because we know what a beautiful, functional, fit-for-purpose CBD means for residents and for the tourists you welcome here,” Stuart Nash said.