Te Pūwaha - Whanganui's Port Revitalisation

In partnership with Kānoa logo

Port operations at Wharf 1

Port Operations - Wharf 1

Aerial view of Whanganui Port

Port area

Hardstand & Vessel Hoist

Concept – Whanganui District Council Hardstand & Vessel Hoist Runway with Q-West building

Concept – Whanganui District Council Hardstand & Vessel Hoist Runway with Q-West building

Te Pūwaha refers to the gateway, or river mouth. It is also the name of the Whanganui port revitalisation project.

Te Pūwaha is a partnership involving Whanganui Iwi and five other groups invested in the project: Whanganui District Council, Horizons Regional Council, Q-West Boat Builders, Whanganui District Employment Training Trust and central government.

The total investment in Te Pūwaha is over $50 million, with infrastructure works carried out over three tranches or phases.

Te Puwaha chair Gerrard Albert said Te Pūwaha has made a commitment to ensure that the project is inclusive, and the wider community is involved in the plans for the port, in line with the legal status of the Whanganui River as Te Awa Tupua. "The status of the river as Te Awa Tupua implores us to work more collaboratively and to keep the wellbeing of the people and the river at the heart of the project" he said.

Whanganui community representative Jock Lee said Te Pūwaha is adopting processes that ensures community engagement adds to the overall value of the project.

“Alongside the hapū engagement already in train, input will be sought from the Castlecliff community on the potential uses and benefits of the North Mole upgrade, before work begins on the hardstand and other aspects,” he said. This, together with other planned engagements will help to inform the community on the Te Pūwaha project and encourage feedback.

The values, referred to as Tupua te Kawa, guide all decision making in respect of the Whanganui River. Tupua te Kawa is the natural law and value system of Te Awa Tupua. The values embedded in Tupua te Kawa can broadly be described as:

  • The metaphysical and indivisible nature of the Whanganui River
  • The intrinsic and inalienable place of hapū and iwi as the River
  • Community empowerment via collective obligation to work collaboratively for the River’s benefit

The Tupua te Kawa provides the foundation to bring about the alignment of the parties and to better coordinate how the Te Pūwaha Project provides for iwi, youth, and local community groups. These values are essential to the success of the project.

Kānoa – Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit support

Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (Kānoa - RDU) was established in 2018 within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to support delivery of government funding to enhance economic development opportunities in regional New Zealand.

In July 2020 the Regional Economic Development Minister at the time, Hon. Shane Jones announced $26.75 million of Government funding administered by the Provincial Development Unit for the port, which forms part of a total $50 million investment across the five funding partners.

This funding was allocated as follows:

$12.5 million equity investment
Whanganui District Council Port infrastructure project  to upgrade 400m of wharves, develop marine infrastructure and improve dredging capabilities to enhance the local boat building and marine industry  
$7.5 million grant  Horizons Regional Council Lower River Infrastructure project to repair moles and other river training structures that control the alignment of the Lower Whanganui River
$5.25 million loan
Q-West Boat Builders to establish a purpose-built facility and 300 tonne vessel hoist for new builds, repairs, and maintenance services within the port
$1.5 million Te Ara Mahi funding
 Port Employment Precinct (WDETT)
to establish a port employment precinct which will connect local people with jobs created by the port redevelopment and facilitate on-the-job and classroom-based training

Public Events

There are greater opportunities for community engagement over the proposed work than ever before under a Te Awa Tupua model. The emphasis for community engagement is all at the front end of the process rather than at the back end in a resource consents led model.

We have hosted a series of community events to share the project plans, answer your queries and listen to your aspirations for the project. We would like to acknowledge the following groups who have shared their aspirations for the port with us:

  • Tregenna St Residents
  • Boardriders
  • Progress Castlecliff / Castlecliff Coast Care
  • Fishing Adjunct

If you have any ideas or queries please email us portproject@whanganui.govt.nz

Public meeting, Castlecliff – 10 August 2021

The Project

The revitalisation will enable better utilisation of the traditional Whanganui port area and new Marine Precinct for boat servicing. It will improve the aesthetic appearance of the area, making it attractive to current and new users, creating jobs and training opportunities for local people.

It includes significant physical work to remediate and refurbish the two historic wharves which were built in the early 1900s. It also includes new infrastructure for launching boats and undertaking maintenance, dredging tools, building repairs and deconstruction of derelict structures.

Upon completion Whanganui will have a purpose-built marine precinct including 2,000 square metres of vessel maintenance hardstand, a 300 tonne mobile boat hoist, staged dredging of the port basin to support around 400 metres of rebuilt wharves, along with new vessel building facilities for Q-West boat builders.

To protect these developments and critical inner city infrastructure from flooding, both moles and other river training structures will be repaired, by Horizons Regional Council, to control the alignment of the river. An onsite employment precinct will also be established to provide specialist training and upskilling, connecting local people to local jobs.

As well as making the river entrance safer for vessels entering and departing, the project also takes into consideration protection of the health, well-being and function of the Whanganui River.

The entrance to Whanganui River is considered challenging by boaties and sea captains. There are several ways that the swell can be reduced or mitigated by dissipating waves. The funding announced by the Provincial Development Unit includes a co-funded project to reinstate the man-made structure on the southern side of the river, known as the Tanae Bank. This feature helps to calm the water, which will benefit the boat ramp and public areas as well as the new proposed marine works.

Options for managing the channel which provides vessel access to the wharves will include dredging, which will manage the ongoing deposition of sediment within the lower river areas.

The boat ramp and associated car parking will be retained so that small vessels can access the river and the Tasman Sea. Whanganui District Council will consider longer term upgrades to the parking areas in future Long-Term Plans.

As well as being a working port, this is an important waterfront space that is valued by the Whanganui community. The Mountains to Sea Cycleway will detour around the redeveloped port. The construction of the cycleway will promote local recreation, and tourism based ventures.

Whanganui District Council Port infrastructure project

The historic wharves that comprise Whanganui Port are neglected and urgently need restoration. Without this work, the existing port operations and the businesses that occupy the area are at risk.

The Whanganui District Council Infrastructure Project includes:

  • upgrading 424m of wharves
    • Wharf 2 - 200m of wharf to be upgraded to enable commercial marine activities to safely operate
    • Wharf 3 - 224m of wharf to be upgraded
  • development of marine infrastructure
  • provision of a hardstand and runway suitable for a 300 tonne vessel hoist to enable boats to be lifted in and out of the water
  • improving dredging capabilities to enhance the local boat building and marine industry
  • salvaging historic materials from the port precinct to be repurposed or restored where possible

Update: Victory Shed Demolition – December 2021

The asbestos at the Victory Shed roof was removed by local company Action Drainage, sub-contractors to Jurgens, during September and October and the area received WorkSafe clearance before demolition continued. The roof was carefully removed manually, one sheet at a time, as the wharf could not carry the weight of any machinery. After manual removal each asbestos sheet was wrapped for safe transit and then taken for disposal at Bonny Glen Landfill.

An issue with the underfloor area of the shed itself contributed to the decision to demolish the shed as part of Te Pūwaha port revitalisation project. It’s important that any subfloor can safely bear the weight placed on it. At the Victory Shed, the scouring under the concrete slab floor has over time eroded three quarters of the land beneath the shed’s surface area. This meant the shed no longer has any weight bearing capacity and is therefore considered too dangerous to use.

As part of Te Pūwaha work to rebuild and revitalise the port, demolition materials will be salvaged, safely stored and considered by project partners, including iwi, for future reuse where possible, in alignment with mouri ora, mouri tangata, mouri awa.

At the Victory Shed site, concrete walls will be broken down and the concrete crushed for reuse as part of the site rehabilitation throughout the project. This has some environmental benefits as it reduces the amount of material going to landfill. Where possible aspects of the building that reflect its history will also be salvaged. This includes the barn-style doors and runners, and if possible the name of the shed, which sits in plaster on the side of the building. Not all the demolition materials from the Victory Shed can be reused. The asbestos roof has been disposed of and the metal frame under the roof has deteriorated over time and will also be disposed of. 

An archaeologist has worked with Te Pūwaha project partners Whanganui District Council and Te Mata Pūau (hapū collective representatives) to examine the site and prepare a full archaeological report. Although the area is a pre-1900 site, there have been no archaeological finds at the Victory shed site to date. The Victory shed itself has had a rich history. Before demolition began a photographic record was created to preserve the Victory shed’s iconic contribution to Whanganui’s local history.

The whole area of the wharves and the land behind the wharves is considered to be very dangerous. The wharves are not safe for more than pedestrian traffic and this means that access to the area from land or sea is not currently safe.

There are warning signs at the wharves and the demolition site advising people not to access the wharves, not to attempt to enter the construction site, and not to swim in the area also as this can be very dangerous. 

At the Victory Shed site, Te Pūwaha project partners Whanganui District Council and members of Te Mata Pūau are working closely with site contractors, including local demolition company Jurgens, to keep everyone on site safe. This includes inspecting the site each day for any new hazards before work begins.

Hazards include sink holes appearing weekly at the site, and the weight-bearing ability of the land. Each time work is undertaken at the site using machinery, of any weight, the land the machinery will operate on needs to be remediated or bolstered so that is safe to work on. 

The Victory shed demolition is currently on track to be completed by Christmas. The area that is being cleared at the site will receive full land remediation so that it can house future tenanted buildings and facilities within the new Marine precinct being developed by Q-West as part of Te Pūwaha port revitalisation. 

Even more significant than the specific work being done, is the way in which project partners are working together. Project partners Whanganui District Council and Te Mata Pūau manage contractors together and in accordance with Tupua te Kawa - the set of values drawn from Te Awa Tupua. These guide all decision making in respect of the Whanganui River and ensure the wellbeing of the river is central to the work.

On site this way of working sees experienced local demolition company Jurgens, the main contractor for the demolition of the shed, working under a collaborative project partner model. They regularly meet with and report to the council and representatives from Te Mata Pūau. It’s anticipated that over time working in this exemplary way help ensure a safe demolition for the workers and the public, and contribute to local contractors building their own knowledge of working within the Te Awa Tupua framework. 

Project Opportunities

The revitalisation of Whanganui's port, located at the mouth of the Whanganui River, is important for economic development locally and to future-proof Whanganui as it continues to grow in population and attract more people who expect modern facilities and protection of unique natural surroundings, such as the historic river port.

The project has the potential to create a significant number of new jobs for the region, and to support the existing jobs provided by the marine industry businesses operating around the Port. Associated training of workers will ensure that local people can make the most of these opportunities.

It is envisaged that a cluster of marine-related businesses, including aquaculture processing, will feature within the revitalised port space. The businesses will utilise new infrastructure for lifting boats, and other purpose-built spaces and equipment. It will be one of very few options on the North Island’s West Coast, which is a favoured ground for commercial fishing, but with lack of infrastructure has been relatively inaccessible for many operators.

Private investment from those involved in freight and distribution will be actively sought. With its strategic location at the mouth of the Whanganui River, the Whanganui port is strategically positioned to become a multimodal freight transport hub, distributing goods to markets around New Zealand. Bulk coastal freight will enhance rail and sea alternatives to road haulage taking pressure off the roads and consequently the natural environment.

The new marine infrastructure will not only support current marine services and freight services, but will encourage potential tenants in similar industries as well as from the seafood harvesting and processing sector to invest in Whanganui.

Email us for more information or register your interest, either as a business or individual.

Port Employment Precinct

Te Ara Mahi funding managed by the Provincial Development Unit enables Whanganui District Employment Training Trust to establish a Port Employment Precinct to facilitate training development and job opportunities associated with the port revitalisation project. The Port Employment Precinct Whanganui connects our community with training and jobs at the port, and supports businesses looking to train or find skilled staff.

For more information, visit www.port.org.nz


Te Pūwaha is a collaborative partnership between Whanganui hapū and iwi and the four other groups invested in the development of Whanganui's port. These are Whanganui District Council, Horizons Regional Council, Q-West Boat Builders and the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust.

These partners will be working to secure the Whanganui port as a community asset for the next 50 years and beyond.

Te Pūwaha will empower the community to work for the benefit of our awa, while also improving our collective wellbeing, creating economic and recreational opportunities for our people.

The governance model, founded on the legal status of the Whanganui River as Te Awa Tupua, will ensure that respecting the port’s history, heritage and authenticity are at the forefront of every decision as the project moves ahead.

Te Pūwaha Governance Group has been enhanced to include community leaders such as Jock Lee, Kahureremoa Aki, and representatives from local hapū through Te Mata Pūau – a collective of hapū representatives, including Kahurangi Simon, Raukura Waitai and Chris Shenton, that has been set up to drive the project alongside Whanganui community representatives.


In 2016, a draft masterplan for the 100-year-old Whanganui port was developed. The public had input and a special framework was developed for the community to review.

The vision for the revitalised port was stated in the plan as “where creativity, commerce, education and recreation are woven together to create an authentic and memorable destination that builds on the maritime traditions, economic vitality and sense of place of Whanganui and its river.”



Tod Street, Castlecliff 4501  View Map

Google Map