On Tuesday morning, Whakatōhea and Tuhoe Kaumātua led a hikoi from Snell Road to the planned harbour entrance for a karakia and cultural briefing for contractors before preparatory works start on Ōpōtiki’s Harbour development.

Ōpōtiki District Council Chief Executive, Aileen Lawrie, said that it was a special morning to acknowledge the significance of the location and the project.

“As we walked from Snell Road, we stopped to pay our respects at Te Roto Urupa and carried on to the area that will become the worksite for a karakia. There was also a wider induction for the many staff and contractors who will be out on the site regularly – the history and significance of the location, expectations and cultural safety.

“The speakers discussed the importance of the site culturally and environmentally, and the enduring partnerships between council, iwi and community. The karakia was about the safety of everyone working on the project and the induction reminded us to approach hurdles and challenges with sensitivity and partnership,” Ms Lawrie said.

Preparatory works are underway from this week on construction of the work site and access road, stockpiling of materials and finalising designs and plans. Contractors represented at the karakia included HEB, Tonkin+Taylor, Waiōtahi Contractors and Horizon Energy. And there were also representatives from the Department of Conservation, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, and several consultants. Works will continue on the construction of the twin training walls at the mouth of the Waioeka River until 2022.

Further events are planned in the coming months as the project ramps up. This will include the various funding partners and key supporters of the project over the years and opportunities to involve the wider Ōpōtiki community.