Gisborne’s marina is getting a facelift with better accessibility for cruise passengers and a tailored berth for waka hauora Tairāwhiti.

The upgrade, which started on Monday [14 May] in front of wharf three, will see floating pontoons added to the marina, as well as improved moorings and gangways, and extra berths for fishing and pleasure boats.

Eastland Port general manager Andrew Gaddum says the upgrade is particularly good news for tourists arriving in Gisborne on tenders, the small boats that transport cruise ship passengers ashore.

“The region’s rich culture, history and remoteness have made Gisborne a popular port of call for the cruise industry. We have 18 ships booked in this coming season but until now our marina infrastructure hasn’t been ideal.”

Mr Gaddum says it’s been a somewhat cumbersome operation to disembark and embark passengers, particularly wheelchair-bound and elderly visitors. “Last season passengers had to negotiate a gangway and a barge in order to get on and off shore. Our lack of adequate infrastructure may have taken away from passengers’ overall experience and time ashore.”

After months of planning the new berthing area in front of The Wine Centre allows two tenders to embark or disembark passengers at the same time. In addition, a number of shoreside improvements will be made to streamline the transfer of passengers and safely accommodate wheelchairs.

Right beside the tendering area will be a bespoke berth for the waka hauora Tairāwhiti ensuring it’s easily accessible for crew and visitors. The floating classroom will play a pivotal role in the celebration of Polynesian, Pacific, and Māori voyaging and the Te Hā commemorations next year.

The marina currently has five piers and 67 berths. One of the piers will receive a major overhaul, and berth numbers will increase to 74. In time people will be able to apply for a licence to occupy a new berth through a public tender process.

Mr Gaddum says much of the new berth infrastructure has been made in Auckland out of concrete and timber and will be bolted into place once it arrives. A barge, also being assembled here, will be used in the construction process.

Mr Gaddum says the improvements will significantly enhance the harbour. “It will contribute to the distinctive character and function of this working harbour in a prime tourism location.”

Eastland Port owns most of the area around the inner harbour. It expects the upgrade to take around 12 weeks to complete. In time the entire inner harbour will be enhanced through landscaping as part of Gisborne District Council’s Tairāwhiti Navigations project.

DOCK BLESSED: The site of a new mooring for the waka hourua Tairawhiti was blessed in a ceremony that involved members of the Tairawhiti Voyaging Trust, Ngati Oneone and Eastland Port, (from left) voyaging trust CEO Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp, kaumatua Temple Isaacs, Ngati Oneone kaumatua Barney Tupara, kuia Olive Isaacs, Ngati Oneone historian Nick Tupara, Eastland Port general manager Andrew Gaddum and chairman of the voyaging trust Owen Lloyd. Credit The Gisborne Herald.