The Waipa Delta is leaving Hamilton for the city of the Sky Tower.
Mark Goudie, owner of the replica paddle-steamer, announced this morning he was moving the floating restaurant to the City of Sails. "The Waipa Delta is definitely heading for Auckland," Mr Goudie said.
Mr Goudie's announcement marks an end to a long-running saga of attempts to keep the boat in Hamilton.
The Waipa Delta would now be based in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour, Mr Goudie said.
Auckland Mayor John Banks said there was "always a place in Auckland for the entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and great ideas ... but I don't get any pleasure out of seeing a good man and his business leaving Hamilton, because I'm a big supporter of Hamilton."
Mr Goudie said he had effectively made the decision to leave Hamilton in early 2008, after pulling out of the resource consent process for the boat's Memorial Park pontoons.
"It was merely the encouragement of other people which made me waiver on that decision," Mr Goudie said.
Mr Goudie had been in negotiations with Hamilton City Council to keep the boat in the city, where it has been operating for nearly 25 years.
Talks centred around a slipway for the boat's two-yearly inspections and facilities at Memorial Park, where it is moored. The council's final attempt to keep the boat in the city was the offer of a $300,000 investment in a new slipway at Horotiu, which the Waipa Delta and other boats could have used.
However, Mr Goudie conceded he had been quietly "hoping that the council wouldn't do what I had asked (it) to do, and what I'd agreed would make me stay".
Asked if that meant the negotiations with the council had effectively been a waste of time, Mr Goudie said that was "definitely not the case".
"At the end of the day, as the report said, if they did what was recommended, I'd have agreed to stay. What I'd like to do now is start working with the council to encourage them to do something at Memorial Park as an interim measure," he said.
Mr Goudie said though it was "very hard to walk away", the decision was best for him and the business itself. He and his wife Sandra would continue living in Hamilton.
Mr Goudie said he appreciated the efforts made by the Hamilton City Council to keep the boat in the city, but had reached a point where he felt his investment would be "better placed" in Auckland.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Simcock said there was a sense of inevitability about Mr Goudie's decision, which was a disappointment.
"My sense is this was always his intention it doesn't feel it's a logical response to what we've made possible, which was building the slipway."
He said while the boat's departure was "a loss to the city" and that it had been an "image the city valued", he had also noted "some feedback that it (the Delta) needed some tidying up".
Mr Goudie was confident the business would be successful in Auckland, and said he hoped to be operating from the Auckland Maritime Museum in Westhaven.
However, he gave a clear indication that he wanted to stay in business in the city, and said he was looking at prospects to operate another, smaller, cruising vessel on the river through summer.
Mr Simcock said the council would continue to examine options for commercial operations on the river.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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