Interislander’s plan to move to Kings Wharf

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Radio NZ news item, 2 September 2020

We were really disappointed to learn of KiwiRail’s desire to relocate its Interislander service to Kings Wharf, despite the Future Ports Forum recommending that KiwiRail and Bluebridge both operate from a new terminal at Kaiwharawhara. The Future Ports Forum is made up of The Wellington City Council, Wellington Regional Council, Centreport, NZTA, Bluebridge, and until recently, KiwiRail.

KiwiRail’s move to Kings Wharf would support its proposed new rail ferry fleet. The new ships, at approximately 50,000 tonnes, will be nearly three times the size of the existing ship Aratere, and more than twice the size of Kaitaki and Kaiarahi.

We oppose the proposal for KiwiRail’s new ferries to operate from the central city, and support the proposal that both ferry services operate from a single location at Kaiwharawhara. On the evidence, this is the best option and makes most makes sense for all parties.

KiwiRail says that Kings Wharf is the best site, but that doesn’t take account of the needs to the community, and raises significant environmental and safety concerns. This is a proposal for significant change to the inner harbour

  • The plan will result in the permanent loss of more harbour space to industrial uses.
  • The Kings Wharf site has significant earthquake risks, just like Kaiwharawhara, and was significantly damaged in the Kaikoura quake
  • We have significant concerns about the safety of operating the new ships in such a confined space. The ships are significantly bigger than anything operating in the inner harbour at present.
  • Safety could only be managed at the cost of recreational users, including sailors, rowers, kayakers, standup paddle boarders, pleasure craft, waka ama, and swimmers
  • We may no longer we able to start and finish yacht races, in the inner harbour, and the Wellington Youth Sailing Trust may no longer be able to train in the inner harbour.

We have a good relationship with the Wellington City Council, Wellington Regional City Council, and Centreport, and thank them for keeping us informed of developments. We have happily co-existed with Bluebridge (which operates ships smaller than KiwiRail’s proposed new ships) for many years.

However, the time has come for KiwiRail to consult the community before advancing its Kings Wharf proposal any further. We and other stakeholders expect engagement and proper consideration of our concerns.

In addition to speaking publicly about this issue, the Club will also be writing to KiwiRail and the Government to ensure that our concerns are understood at the highest levels.

Please contact Commodore Pedro Morgan on 021 476 514 if you have any questions.

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