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Wharf could become busy public precinct

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 22/11/2013

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The campaign to make Onehunga wharf open to the public has received a boost.

Mayor Len Brown is broadly supportive of seeing the wharf regenerated in a similar fashion to the Wynyard Quarter area.

An AUT University study commissioned by the Manukau Harbour Forum is under way. It is looking at the feasibility of transforming the wharf into a happening public space.

The wharf's owner Ports of Auckland is also evaluating its use and will report back by the end of this year.

Advocates for opening it up say the wharf has the potential to unlock the harbour for recreational and transport users and could be a bustling area.

It is currently used by the Sandford fishing fleet and is a depot for Holcim Cement.

Manukau Harbour Restoration Society spokeswoman Bronwen Turner sees it becoming a transport hub linking the Franklin area with Auckland, a busy fishing port complete with fish market and cafes and an access point for recreational boaties.

"We think it is time for the use to evolve," she says. "There's just so much stuff that could happen on this wharf."

Mr Brown says turning Onehunga Wharf into a space the public could access would be "stunning".

"There's no doubt that the port itself is under utilised.

"I'd be pretty interested in the outcome of some studies in terms of more active public use in the wharf."

He says there has always been a real challenge in operating the Manukau Onehunga port as a viable shipping port because of access issues through the heads and through the harbour.

And with the Onehunga foreshore restoration well under way that edge of the community is changing rapidly.

"Where we are spending something like $30 million on the foreshore redevelopment it's opening up all sorts of possibilities and potential for better accessing by our community of the harbour."

He was more circumspect on the idea of a ferry link between Waiuku and Onehunga. "There was a ferry service operating until about four or five years ago but it just did not prove viable.

"The good community of Waiuku are very keen on it but clearly the business case would need to be strongly reflected on.

"We would need a private company to put it up and they would need a lot of capital to back themselves."

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