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Dunedin City Council recreation planning and facilities manager Jendi Paterson said the
first part of the work involved separating the main portion of the wharf structure and walkway from the beach.
''We are doing this to ensure there is every chance the walkway can be salvaged as per the wishes of the [Aramoana Pilot Wharf Restoration Charitable Trust].''
Once the first stage was complete, the main wharf structure would be removed, she said.
Engineers would test the piles to determine which ones were in a ''safe condition'' and could remain; any piles considered unsafe would be removed.
The walkway piles would be tested to determine the extent of the deterioration and engineers would provide advice about the safety of leaving the walkway in place.
All salvageable material would be stored by the council until the trust required it, she said.
The work was starting today because the structure was in a ''very dangerous condition and at high risk of collapse at any time''.
''The demolition work is therefore beginning as soon as possible in the interests of public health and safety.''
The Department of Conservation had authorised the removal of one pile and connecting structural timbers on the Aramoana Ecological Area to eliminate the risk the wharf posed to visitors.
Trust member Tracey Densem said the wharf demolition was ''devastating''.
The wharf had heritage value and should be repaired in its present location, she said.
She was ''disappointed and surprised'' the council decided on demolition.
At a council meeting on Monday, council staff agreed to work with the trust on the wharf restoration.
The ''hasty'' council staff told the trust members about the planned demolition on Tuesday.
''It's an unrealistic timeline for the trust to work to - it's hardly an example of a positive council-community partnership.''
The trust wanted to work with the demolition crew, so new piles could be installed when any old piles were removed to make the restoration process easier and cheaper rather than starting from scratch.
''I don't know what we are going to be left with ... where do we go from here,'' Mrs Densem said.