Kaikoura could become international research hub

Kaikoura’s South Bay Harbour is home to tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and marine...
Kaikoura’s South Bay Harbour is home to tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and marine research and education. Photo: File
Kaikoura has the potential to become an international hub for marine research and education - if it can get the funding.

A business case has been produced for the future development of Kaikoura’s South Bay Harbour, thanks to funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

The Kaikoura District Council approved the business case at a council meeting on Wednesday, July 27, and will now seek more funding to take it to the next stage.

Councillors hailed the business case as a ‘‘game changer’’ for the town, which already hosts marine researchers from the University of Canterbury and other agencies.

The South Bay Harbour has multiple uses, including tourism, and commercial and recreational fishing.

‘‘In the business case there’s the potential linkage with research and educational facilities and to tie in with any potential development in that space and that could be phenomenal for Kaikoura,’’ chief executive Will Doughty said.

‘‘We are very fortunate with our marine life and we are known for being a hot spot in the southern hemisphere.’’

He said the University of Canterbury was keen to make a long term commitment to Kaikoura, if suitable facilities were available.

‘‘We need to be looking broader than that and maybe looking to other overseas universities as well.’’

The business case proposed building a much bigger harbour to support the growth in the fishing and tourism sectors.

‘‘A lot of sectors use it and it gets busier and busier, so there is the potential for issues around marine safety.

‘‘So we need to make sure we have a plan and layout which supports the different users.’’

Mayoral candidate Ted Howard, who has a background in commercial fishing, raised concerns about the impact of the proposed location of the commercial fishing harbour in a southerly wind.

Kaikoura Marine Development Project manager Chris Sturgeon said the issue had not been raised in stakeholder meetings with commercial fishing operators, but it could be addressed during the feasibility study.

Te Runanga o Kaikoura had been supportive of the project and was keen to be part of the next stage, especially around ensuring mahinga kai was protected, Mr Sturgeon said.

Mr Doughty said the business case would now be presented to the Government and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum.

Will Doughty.
Will Doughty.
The project would take a number of years to come into fruition and would require significant investment, he said.

At least $4 million would be needed to produce a feasibility study and detailed design, while the over all development expected to cost between $78 and $95 million.

‘‘It’s been quite a robust process and we’ve had input from key stakeholders and from a number of community sessions,’’ Mr Doughty said.

‘‘But this is just the first step and now we need to go out and secure the funding to take it to the next stage. The hard work starts now.’’

-By David Hill
Local Democracy Reporter

■ Public interest journalism funded through New Zealand on Air.

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