Call to restore Aramoana wharf

Restoration urged: John Davis, of the Aramoana League, is urging the Dunedin City Council to...
Restoration urged: John Davis, of the Aramoana League, is urging the Dunedin City Council to restore the Aramoana Wharf, or Pilot's Wharf, for use in recreation and tourism. Photo by Brenda Harwood
It may be hard to get to and in need of repair, but Pilot's Wharf at the Aramoana spit could be a boon for tourism, supporters say.

However, the future of the historic wooden jetty is in jeopardy, with a Dunedin City Council-commissioned engineer's report saying the structure has reached the end of its useful life.

Aramoana League secretary John Davis has been crusading for the retention of Pilot's Wharf at Aramoana for years, including submitting to the council's Long Term Plan process.

Disappointed by the view of council staff that the wharf is unsuitable for public use, he is hoping to galvanise public support for the structure. He has also called on the Chalmers Community Board for help.

"Pilot's Wharf is unloved, it has had no maintenance for many years, but it is still usable," Mr Davis said.

"It could still be used for recreation, and with some thought it could be useful for tourism," he said.

This could include using Pilot's Wharf as part of the harbour cycleway, using it as an access point to ferry cyclists across to the Otago Peninsula side, thereby completing the loop.

"At the moment, the wharf is mainly only accessible on foot, but cyclists could manage that," Mr Davis said.

Mr Davis' campaign for the retention of Pilot's Wharf is supported by MV Monarch owner John Milburn, who feels the wharf is an asset for the harbour.

"It's a beautiful harbour - anything we can do to encourage and assist with people's access to the harbour has to be good," Mr Milburn said.

"There is an enormous amount of money being spent on both sides of the harbour on the cycleway, so why not provide a link?

"Admittedly, the wharf needs a lot of work, but it is an existing structure - so why not use it?

" he said.

Both Mr Davis and Mr Milburn felt that having a jetty structure relatively close to the harbour mouth could also be useful for maritime safety.

"To knock down a wharf that could be useful for present and future generations would be short-sighted," Mr Milburn said.

Pilot's Wharf at Aramoana was built around the turn of the 20th century by the Otago Harbour Board and extended in the 1960s.

As part of port and local government reform in the late 1980s, the ownership of the wharf was transferred to Dunedin City Council.

However, the council had only accepted that it owned the wharf about a year ago, Mr Davis said.

In the interim, there had been no maintenance done on the wharf, he said.

Recently, the council had commissioned an engineer's report on Pilot's Wharf, which had shown its structure and piles had reached the "end of their useful life", DCC parks and reserves manager Lisa Wheeler said.

"If council were of a mind to do something with it [the wharf], they would have to replace it," Mrs Wheeler said.

She would present the report to the Chalmers Community Board at its next meeting and said any feedback from the board would need to go back to the DCC's community development committee for consideration.

Councillor Andrew Noone, who is the DCC's representative on the Chalmers Community Board, said the issue of Pilot's Wharf was "a work in progress".

He could see the potential of having a harbour connection and agreed the wharf was in a "strategic location" but felt there would be funding issues.

One issue to consider would be the potential difficulty of re-establishing a wharf in the area in the future, if Pilot's Wharf was removed.

"If we were to retain a structure, we would need to think about how we would fund it," Cr Noone said.

This could possibly include part-funding from the community.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said there was "no budget" at present for restoring the wharf.

"There would have to be a very good economic development case made for council to spend the kind of money that would be required," Mr Cull said.


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