Far North Holdings Ltd officially opened the company’s new ferry passenger services building on the Paihia Wharf today.
The $1.73 million project provides 410 square metres of purpose-designed accommodation to enhance facilities for passengers travelling to and from Paihia and Russell by water and to provide for the operational needs of maritime operators servicing the visitor industry.
Far North Mayor Yvonne Sharp, who officially opened the building today, says the new building is an illustration of the company’s commitment to invest in the community and to provide the amenities which will provide opportunities for continuing growth in tourism in the Far North.
The council-owned trading company has already made invested over $7 million in community assets and these contributions have helped to offset costs which would otherwise fall on the community, she says.
“If it had not been for Far North Holdings Ltd, rates would have increased by about a further 4% a year. Just as significantly, many of the projects carried out by the company would not have happened if the financial responsibility rested solely with the ratepayers,” Mayor Sharp says.
The new building and associated facilities replace the former Charter Pier pontoon. Additional facilities include a waiting area, toilets and a coffee kiosk for the travelling public. The project forms part of the first stage of the Paihia Foreshore Redevelopment Plan and includes the upgrade to the aquarium building carried out earlier this year.
The balance of the re-development plan, currently the subject of a Resource Consent application, seeks to provide a safe boat haven and improved operating environment at Paihia for the increasing number of both private and commercial vessels using the area. The plan also provides for the re-establishment of the beach between the wharf and the area known locally as “the Bluff” to improve public access to the foreshore and marine environment.
Further work scheduled to complete the wharf building project includes new pontoons, the refurbishment of existing pontoons in the wharf area and landscaping of the garden area around the information kiosk. A sewerage pump-out facility has been provided for commercial operators which will be expanded to provide for general boating use at a later date.
Company Chairman Malcolm Nicolson says the focus is on enhancing the infrastructure required by the tourism industry to maintain Paihia’s place as a premium visitor destination, to improve the foreshore environment, and to generally enhance the Bay of Islands visitor experience.
“We also have an ongoing committed to sound environmental management of coastal marine areas in which the company operates- as illustrated by the new sewage pump-out facilities for commercial operators,” he says.
Mr Nicolson says the company is hoping to create a photographic montage and historical record of changes to the Paihia waterfront area which will be displayed in the new waterfront building.
“We would invite the community to participate by providing any photos or relevant information which can be used in this display. The company would like this to be an educational record of the cultural and historical development of the town.
“I would encourage anyone with material or information which could assist in the creation of this display to contact the company. All assistance will be gratefully received,” he says.