Forestry is a regional success story and as a result Eastland Port needs moderate expansion to keep up, says General Manager Andrew Gaddum.
“We can handle 2.9 million tonnes of wood per year but with a predicted 5 million tonnes of wood coming by 2024, we need to make some changes.”
Eastland Port is sharing its twin berth development plans with the community in advance of applying for the Gisborne District Council consents it will need to future-proof the port.
“We want individuals and groups to have plenty of time to see what the plans involve and give us ideas to consider.”
Mr Gaddum says the biggest issues facing the port are a lack of wharf length, and space for logs and other cargo. The only way to move more wood off the port faster is to load two large ships at once.
“We need to make the wharves stronger and longer so two 200m long ships can be loaded at the same time.”
“Finding space is a real challenge. We’ve looked at many options and we’ve become more efficient by doing things like doubling our ship loading rates and stacking wood more efficiently. But it’s not enough. We think the only reasonable answer is a small amount of land reclamation. At this stage we believe that might be around 1.5ha in behind wharf 8 and the seawall.”
Once two ships can berth at wharf 8 simultaneously, we will need extra area to load from, and more space to store the logs ready for export, says Mr Gaddum.
Mr Gaddum says “Eastland Port is crucial to the region’s infrastructure and along with the forestry industry is helping power the local community.”
Powering our community
“Forestry production injects $262 million* into the area and that’s only going to increase. The port has a duty to ensure it is fit-for-purpose.”
“More than one in four households in this region has a person whose job is dependent on forestry**. Be it a faller, truck driver, diesel mechanic, shop owner, contractor, accountant – thousands benefit from forestry, and everyone else benefits from the money that they spend.”
Mr Gaddum says investment makes financial sense. It gives Gisborne a community-owned asset that will help secure new coastal shipping routes (which could include container trade), and offers regional resilience should we suffer a serious earthquake or weather event. A refurbished port will also accommodate new international trade and exports, and expand the level of service it can offer to cruise ships.
“The port is a good barometer of this region’s economic health.”
Balancing the responsibilities
Mr Gaddum says the challenge now is balancing the responsibility it has helping ensure regional economic growth, alongside concerns other people may have.
Eastland Port recognises Ngāti Oneone as tangata whenua and kaitiaki over the area occupied by the port. The port is surrounded by residential neighbours and businesses, and it’s nestled next to one of New Zealand’s most historically significant sites, soon to take centre stage during the 2019 first encounters commemorations.
“We find ourselves right at the heart of those commemorations and for exactly the same reasons as everyone else: the maritime traditions of so many of our ancestors unfolded right here in this safe harbour.”
The area the port now operates in was integral to Gisborne’s settlement. “It’s special to the region, to New Zealand, and when any group wants to make changes that brings with it a huge responsibility.”
Mr Gaddum acknowledges port development may be beyond some people’s comfort levels. “People have the right to expect the economic benefits of any industry be balanced with the need to protect our environment.”
The port is looking at how it can enhance the marine habitat available to species such as rock lobster. “There is opportunity to create further artificial habitat as part of our developments”, says Mr Gaddum.
The port continues to look for ways to reduce its environmental footprint with the recent addition of the upper log yard rain garden helping remove sediment and slow down storm water before it flows into the port’s filter plant and then into Kopuawhakapata Stream.
Applications to council
Eastland Port plans to make its first application for resource consent to rebuild wharf 6, strengthen a portion of the river training wall, and reshape the slipway, in July. The second application next year will be to extend wharf 8, required reclamation, breakwater repairs, and dredging.
A number of Eastland Port structures involved in the redevelopment require refurbishment regardless of the second berth development.
“The port is a regionally significant transport asset for this district and so to do nothing is not an option. We need to make capital improvements to ensure the port continues to provide the services we all need now and into the future.”
Eastland Port is part of regional infrastructure company Eastland Group which is 100 percent owned by Eastland Community Trust (ECT). Eastland Group Chief Executive Matt Todd says Eastland Port generates about 50% of Eastland Group’s earnings and therefore is a substantial contributor to the annual distributions paid by Eastland Group to ECT.
That profit directly benefits the community in the form of grants distribution to projects like the HB Williams Memorial Library, Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust, and Life Education Trust; and joint ventures such as the new wood processing plant proposed with Wood Engineering Technology Ltd (WET).
“Investing in vital infrastructure is key to creating more good jobs and continuing economic growth. In the long run improvements like the one planned at the port will boost productivity, support business growth, create jobs, and improve opportunities for all of the region’s residents,” says Mr Todd.
For more information visit www.twinberth.nz
Image: Aerial shot of Eastland Port showing the first (black) and second (white) applications to Gisborne District Council for resource consent.
*NZIER report to New Zealand Forest Growers Association and New Zealand Farm Foresters Association, March 2017.
**Economic impact assessment of the forestry industry in the Gisborne Tairāwhiti region, Institute for Business Research, University of Waikato, October 2013.