OF the eight Lytton High School students who visited Eastland Port this month, two had whanau members employed in forestry and Port infrastructure manager Martin Bayley reckons that’s about right.

“More than one-in-four households in the Gisborne region has a person whose job is dependent on forestry and, each year, the industry injects $262 million into the local economy,” he told the visiting group of year-12 economics students.

“That is only going to increase with log volumes coming off the port set to rise from nearly three million tonnes to more than five. It is our job to make sure the port can cope with that.”

The students were visiting as part of their exploration of the economic impact of the forestry industry on Gisborne.

“Coming on site gives an extra dimension to their studies,” says Lytton economics teacher Hagan Logue. “Not only does it contribute to their academic understanding, but they also get an insight into a major industry right on their doorstep.”

If the students thought they were getting out of the classroom however, Mr Bayley had news for them . . . he took them through a presentation about the port’s proposed twin berth expansion.

Then it was high-vis vests and hard hats on for a tour of the southern logyard, a drive over the seawall and a close-up view as tonnes of logs were loaded on the visiting bulk cargo vessel African Owl.

While the students were interested in the big economic picture of the Port’s expansion plans, the little details caught their attention, too. How the port planned to reclaim land without disrupting the six nearby recognised surf breaks, for example. Or the work being done by mechanical engineering students to develop an in-harbour habitat for rock lobster..

“There is lots of work to do here and not just with the planned  twin berth expansion, but also on developments around coastal shipping and establishing a special tender berth to cater for cruise ships,” Martin Bayley said.

“What is important is that we have an open door and clear lines of communication. How we interact with the community is key to our success.”

What they learned:

  • With a predicted wall of wood due to come out of the Gisborne region, Eastland Port needs to up its capability from 2.9 million tonnes of logs to more than five. It is consulting on plans to do so with a new twin berth development, making its wharves stronger and longer so two 200m long ships can be loaded at the same time.
  • As well, the Port is intent on securing new coastal shipping routes (which could include container trade), offering regional resilience in case of serious earthquake or major weather event.
  • And in addition to projects like rebuilding the slipway and breakwater, it plans to construct a tender berth to cater for the increasing number of visiting cruise ships.