Barge port proposal for Te Araroa

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Te Araroa is an isolated community on the East Coast with limited employment pathways.  Te Rimu Trust are wanting to change that by building a barge port, but not all locals are in favour.

It is hoped the barge and wharf will develop the economy on the East Coast.

Deputy Chair of Te Rimu Trust, Hepa Akuhata-Brown says, “The economic depression up there in the northern East Coast ... we're trying to open up the potential there, that's the reason why we've put this proposal forward, Te Rimu is facilitating the opportunity to put a port in on its own property.”

But not everyone is behind the plan, with local Caddie Kamizona saying the trust isn't communicating with transparency.

“They say there's jobs, but they haven't said where's there's jobs, how many people around here need to operate a skipper's ticket [licence] to go drive this barge.”

Kamizona lives a stone’s throw away from the Karakatūwhero River where the Te Rimu Trust proposes to build the barge port facility to export logs.

“Our roads here, they're like the footpaths to our kids, they go to this river, Karakatūwhero River, to swim, they ride their horses past, they ride their bikes past and now they're going to be confronted by more logging trucks,” says Kamizona.

Te Rimu Trust says the plan has the potential to open further opportunities from Ruatōria to Pōtaka.

“There's a lot of unused land there that has the potential for horticulture and of course you've got the moana with the aquaculture and tourism so having a port there is the key that will unlock the economic potential for that area,” says Akuhata-Brown.

The next stage for the trust is to complete engineering, environmental and social impact reports.

“The technology is out there where you can have industry and look after the environment at the same time so we'll be looking at all of that,” says Akuhata-Brown.

Te Rimu Trust is awaiting word from the government on whether the next stage of feasibility research will be approved.