The official opening of the Weymouth boat ramp by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff earlier this year was the end of a decade-long campaign for Manurewa Local Board member Ken Penney.
During campaigning for election to the board in 2010, he was asked as a prospective first-time member if he would commit to supporting an upgrade of the ramp.
“After I was elected, I set out to do exactly that. It’s taken around a decade for the upgrade to be completed.
“About midway through I said we’d have a pig on a spit to celebrate at the opening of the ramp when the work was done and I’m happy to say we delivered on that.”
Manurewa Local Board chair Joseph Allan says the upgraded ramp will allow boaties and other residents to access the Manukau Harbour for recreation and leisure.
“The harbour is a priority in the Manurewa Local Board Plan and the ramp is a gateway to it. We are very proud to see the work completed.”
Both acknowledged Auckland Council staff involved in completing the project, and the board formally acknowledged Mr Penney’s role at its February meeting.
“Ken was tireless in his work to improve the ramp, advocating on behalf of the Weymouth community and ramp users for a decade,” Mr Allan says.
“He worked to see this project through to completion across four terms as a board member and through many changes in staff and council departments.”
Waiohua mana whenua, Weymouth Boating Club, Weymouth Yacht Club, Te Pou Herenga Waka Ama Club, Coastguard Papakura and Weymouth Sea Scouts were all also acknowledged for their parts in completing the upgrade.
The official opening took on something of a party atmosphere with members of the waka ama club dividing themselves between waka so that passengers could be taken on to the harbour.
Having provided access to the harbour for decades, the gravel-based ramp was found to be degrading over time and the board developed a plan to rebuild and future-proof it.
Council staff worked with the board and contractors, adopting a two-stage approach, financing it through Auckland Council’s Coastal Regional Programme because of the ramps’ significance and regional benefits.
The first stage, restoring the gravel ramp, was completed early in 2020 and the second stage centred on enhancing access, often challenging because of approach point restrictions, gravel washout and wastewater infrastructure.
Funding was sourced from the council’s Maritime Recreation Fund, a historic former Manukau City Council fund for enhancing coastal marine areas.
Because of the ecological sensitivity of the area, the design was widely workshopped while stage one was being built, with resource consent completed in February last year, only for work to be derailed by COVID-19.
After also repairing wastewater infrastructure in the area, the ramp was finished when work was able to resume late last year.