The month of September saw a number of significant milestones achieved as the project moves through the validation stage closer to the possible build date for the Harbour structures. Opotiki District Council Chief Executive, Aileen Lawrie, said that there was still a lot of water to go under the bridge and a lot of work to get done, but recent milestones were keeping the end goal very much in sight.
“Last week we issued the RFP to the two shortlisted tenderers and it was a milestone well worth celebrating. It means, amongst other things, that detailed design can start on the harbour structures. By March, we will have two very comprehensive tenders in front of us for evaluation. We will select our contract partner based on that document and will be ready to start work shortly after that, subject to securing the balance of funding,” Ms Lawrie said.
In addition to this significant milestone, work is continuing on many other fronts including the recently completed stage 1 geotechnical investigations.
“It seems like just the other day we were welcoming the geotechnical contractors to the site with a really special blessing before works began. Those geotechnical results and many other pieces of information will now feed into a final design that will be the best match for our unique physical environment. So these things are stitching together,” Ms Lawrie said.
Another piece of work that is having a visible impact on the wider Opotiki community is the ‘Pathways to Work’ programme. This project is working to ensure that the local workforce has the opportunity to be ready for the jobs when they come online. Collaborative planning is underway with education providers and support agencies.
Barbara MacLennan, project manager for Pathways to Work, explained.
“Working backwards from the possible build date in 2018 means we can map out pathways that will help people prepare. As far as possible we are identifying specific skills, qualifications and experience that will be in demand and we are updating the information we first compiled as a baseline for this work in 2014.
“We have been working with schools, Iwi, polytechs, training providers and pastoral support providers to make sure education and training matches the end goals at the different stages of the project, including construction and the mussel related work. We have also been working closely with Te Pou Oranga and Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust that provide wraparound support to people keen to ready themselves to apply for roles when they become available. We also know we need to start considering part–time and night courses for those already in work but wanting to broaden their relevant skillsets.
“There is a long lead time into these sort of large-scale changes and the support we have from a wide range of groups and agencies is fantastic. There is a real excitement about the difference that this project will make at every level – from mussel processing to post-graduate research that could happen right here in town. That is why we are planning for these things now,” Ms MacLennan said.