Kōpū Marine Servicing and Business Precinct was officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, and Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Development on June 21. 

The $15.3 million facility will provide a vital boost to the district’s marine servicing industry – likely to attract fleets from as far afield as Auckland, Whangārei, the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty for servicing or in-water maintenance.

The new facility will help the region achieve its goal to double the value of its aquaculture exports over the next 20 years to $180 million, the Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones told over 100 people gathered to launch the facility.

“Today we are here to celebrate a good news story,” Deputy Prime Minister Peters said. “This project is an example of what strategic government investment can do to support New Zealand’s regions to maximise their economic potential. The precinct is a piece of marine infrastructure that will support local industries, increase access to the Waikato’s natural resources and create enduring employment opportunities for the region. Currently 11% of aquaculture industry jobs in New Zealand are based in Thames-Coromandel. Activity generated here supports 800 jobs across New Zealand.” the Deputy PM said.

“Waikato has a vision to be world-class in sustainable and innovative aquaculture management, with a doubling of export growth by 2044,” Minister Shane Jones said. “This new precinct is an example of central and local government working together to support the regions to maximise their economic potential. We want to see a tremendous degree of growth and development in aquaculture. We made a commitment to upgrade the maritime infrastructure around the coastline of New Zealand. I look forward to working with you in the future in a very collaborative sense with the new $1.2 billion dollar Regional Infrastructure Fund with a focus on growing our economy. You’re pushing on an open door with good ideas.” The Regional Infrastructure Fund opens on 1 July.

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Waikato Regional Council Chair Pamela Storey described the facility as “game changing”. Contributing $565,000 of Waikato Regional Council funding towards the project reflects “a tangible commitment to stimulating growth in our region’s aquaculture sector, promoting regional economic development and addressing marine biosecurity risks. Now that it’s complete, I’m sure you will agree, the region has a wonderful facility.”

“This is just the beginning,” Mayor Len Salt said. “We’re looking forward to this opening the door and being the gateway to exciting new opportunities. This Kōpū area has enormous potential to service marine and other industries. My plea to government is when we see a project that’s worth doing let’s work together. Let’s put aside the politics and make sure that we are focused on our visions for our community.”

Benefits to the district 

The commercial part of the complex consists of:
• an 80-metre long commercial wharf and floating pontoon that enables in-water marine servicing and vessel loading
• an unsealed haul-out area
• an upgraded commercial slipway.

It’s estimated that the Kōpū Marine Precinct could bring economic returns of up to $58.5 million over the next 30 years. It brings fresh opportunities to the boat repair and maintenance, aquaculture, trade and transport industries.

It’s also expected to be the catalyst for up to 100 new jobs – in aquaculture, light engineering and secondary services.

Recreational fishing 

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For recreational fishers, the precinct offers a modern public boat ramp of outstanding quality with trailer parking for about 34 boats. It opens to the public on Saturday 22 June.

“We hear from boaties up and down the coast that they are very excited to use it,” says Thames Councillor Peter Revell, our Council’s elected representative on the Project Steering Group. Just like with most of our Council’s other boat ramps, you can either buy a one-off pass or a more cost-effective annual pass. Check out our website www.tcdc.govt.nz for all the details.

Project partnerships 

Most of the project cost was met through an $8.2 million grant from the government’s Crown Infrastructure Partners Fund and $4.05 million from the Three Waters Reform ‘better off’ funding from the Department of Internal Affairs. This was bolstered by $1.4 million from the Thames Community Board’s Thames Urban General-Purpose Reserve and further contributions from Waikato Regional Council’s Regional Fund and our Council’s roading budget for the access road at King Street.

From the start, it’s been a partnership of central and regional government supported by our Council, the Thames Community Board, and support from Thames Business Association, local businesses and the community.

It also has the backing of local iwi, Ngāti Maru who have acted as kaitiaki of the building process, ensuring the natural environment was protected. Ngāti Maru Runanga has provided artistic designs stencilled into the ramps, as well as two pou about to be unveiled at a separate dawn ceremony.

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The project has been managed by Urban Solutions with contractors Fulton Hogan, Land + Sea Civil, and Heron Group. Local sub-contractors have been extensively involved.

Investing further in aquaculture 

The investment in the Kōpū precinct is one of the key drivers set to facilitate a major growth in the aquaculture and marine servicing sectors in the Thames-Coromandel District.

Other planned investment includes the Te Ariki Tahi Sugar Loaf Wharf Development which will enable a significant expansion of mussel and fin fish farming in the Hauraki Gulf.

With the newly consented space in development across the Hauraki Gulf, investment in this enabling infrastructure is set to unlock billons in economic benefits, while supplying the world with sustainable protein.

www.tcdc.govt.nz/kopu