Private trust may take over dilapidated wharf

Ulva Island Jetty. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Ulva Island Jetty. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The next step has been taken in transferring the lone wharf on Ulva Island into private hands.

The wharf at Post Office Cove on Ulva Island is on its last legs and was scheduled to be mothballed at the end of next month, although it may get a lifeline.

Ulva Island is a small island about 3.5km long, lying within Paterson Inlet, and close to the Oban settlement.

A proposal had been made by the Hunter Family Trust — which owns the land the wharf is situated on — to take over the ownership of the wharf while leaving it open for both public and commercial use.

The Stewart Island Community Board met yesterday to discuss its options and it recommended to the Southland District Council it enters into negotiations with the trust to take up ownership of the wharf.

Existing council conditions would remain, significant repairs would be worked through with commercial users, and the trust would take over risk for the structure.

Cr Jon Spraggon said, when contacted after the meeting, that the board had to be realistic and had to look at the long term.

To improve the wharf would cost $1.5 million. It had gained funding of $600,000 from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund and about $300,000 from the Stewart Island visitor levy.

But that still left a significant shortfall.

"We have to consider that we have a permanent population of 400 people, we are in a tough financial climate these days and we have had a good offer to keep it open," he said.

Should the family trust take over the wharf, it would come to an agreement with commercial users, should it seek to repair the wharf. If the board and council decide to build another wharf on the island the deal would be off.

Cr Spraggon described the wharf in its present condition as "a shocker."

It was closed to larger vessels in its present condition which had led to more smaller vessels using the wharf this summer, he said.

Cr Spraggon said many of the wharves were in poor condition on Stewart Island.

The board had also requested the closure of the wharf be changed from the end of next month to the end of June — a three month extension to cater for people coming to the island in autumn.

Ultimately it would be up to the Southland District Council to decide on the fate of the wharf as the matter went to council on March 6.

About 20 people attended the meeting, which Cr Spraggon said showed people were interested in the future of the wharf.