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Ferry Landing Wharf restoration work begins

20 April 2015

Divers will be working around the Ferry Landing old stone wharf for several days this week recovering old stone blocks from the sea floor.

The work is the first stage in our restoration project of the Wharf, which is one of the oldest working stone wharves in the Southern Hemisphere and is also classified as a Grade One structure by Historic Places Trust.

Guy Banhidii and his team of divers from Dive Revive based out of Whenaukite, will be carrying out the recovery work. This will see stones lost from the original wall recovered from the seafloor. They wlll then be used to rebuild the wharf's original stone steps, along with sections of missing wall.

"These are the original stones from the wharf that have eroded off and fallen into the sea," says Mercury Bay Area Manager Sam Marshall.

The stones, estimated to weigh between 100 and 1000kgs can be seen in good visibility, several metres under the water, beside the wharf and out further into the channel.

A crane will be on-site and a section of the wharf will be cordoned off around where the divers are working. Divers will be wearing helmets with communications on them which allows them to be in constant contact with the dive tender.

"The divers aren't going deep and it's not dangerous conditions," says Mr Banhidi. "The comms allows us to let the divers know when the ferry is coming and going. We have already worked out a plan with the Ferry operator, as the service will be going during our work."

"People are welcome to come and watch, but won't be able to get anywhere near our operation," he says.

The diving work should take up to three days and when that's complete, a stonemason and archaeologist will be analysing the stones to see how many can be used to rebuild the wharf and whether other stone needs to be sourced.

The actual restoration of stonework on the wharf will take place later in the year.

Last December the Lotteries Environment and Heritage Fund approved $187,645 towards the Stage One of the restoration work, while our Council had contributed $279,000.