The Arutanga Harbour Project is progressing well, with the scope of the project expanded and already benefiting the Aitutaki community in more ways than one. The Arutanga Harbour Project is part of the wider Te Papa Tau o Araura.
Te Papa Tau o Araura is a comprehensive long-term strategy for Aitutaki’s growth and development. It describes the kind of place Aitutakians have said they want and outlines what is needed to achieve this. It sets the strategic direction that will enable the Island’s communities to work together in a resourceful and self-sufficient way to protect, manage and develop their environment – both land and water.
The Arutanga Harbour Project is driven by the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), and in collaboration with the Cook Islands Ports Authority (CIPA) and the Aitutaki Island Government, the central aim of the Arutanga Harbour Project is to improve the safety and usability of the harbour and port. This will allow continuous flow of cargo to the island and safe passage for the barge, small interisland ships, yachts, and cruise ship tenders.
Project manager Romani Katoa says the shallow waters of the Arutanga Harbour and channel entry, together with the limited land area available to safely and securely handle cargo, pose a number of risks to lifeline services and port operations.
“Accordingly, the ultimate goal of the Arutanga Harbour Project is to improve the standard of the harbour to safeguard the wellbeing of the Aitutaki community,” he says. The project will involve dredging the harbour channel to a depth of five metres and a width of 15 metres, stretching along the channel’s entire 980 metre length from the entry point to Aitutaki Port.
The project brief has been expanded due to a considerably larger volume of material that is now needed to be dredged. Originally the predicted volume of material was 75,000m3 – it is now estimated to be 130,000m3.
Mr Katoa says this is “a good problem”, as now there is much more dredged material, which can be used for community projects and households. “With the increase in volume, it has pushed out when we were expecting to close out this phase one of the project, originally planned with 75,000m3 at the end of 2022,” he says. “We now expect to finish this phase at the end of June 2023.”
CIIC Chief Executive Officer Allan Jensen says one positive has been the ability for some of the dredged material to be provided to Aitutaki Airport.
The airport requires material for the Aitutaki Airport Runway Strip Land Reclaim Project. This has been identified as something which needed to be remedied over the past few years. Mr Nikau Tangaroa, Chief Executive of the Airport Authority says “as it stands the Aitutaki runway strip width is technically in contravention of the Civil Aviation guidelines and the width requirement of 75m each side of the centreline. Currently some areas of the runway strip towards the seaside have reduced to 40-50m in width, due to coastal erosion in recent years. The dredge material from the Arutanga project will remedy this situation.”
Mr Jensen says this is a good example of one infrastructure project being able to benefit another infrastructure project and the nation’s core infrastructure assets working collaboratively. Mr Jensen also remarked that many Aitutaki households have also benefited from truckloads of material being delivered. Households through the Aitutaki Island Government, have been asked to complete a request form at the CIIC project office if they require material to be delivered. “Good feedback has been received from the Aitutaki community regarding the project, the community is happy with the additional space around the port area, beautification to date of the area, with many people fishing and being able to access dredged material for their households,” he says.
Completed works done in phase 1 to date include dredging and reclaim works to the Southern Basin Area, Northern Pier and main entry into the harbour and reclaiming of the Northern Passage Basin Area. Over half of the dredging works of the Main Passage have been completed and about a third of the 30,000m3 material needed at the Aitutaki Airport has been transported.
Works to be done to complete phase 1 include completing dredging works of the Main Passage, and continued cartage of material to the community and households. Nikaupara coastal areas works for the new proposed Reureu/Nikaupara Road and Arutanga Field improvements will also be carried out.
Upon completion of phase 1, which is anticipated at the end of June 2023, CIIC with the Ports Authority and the Aitutaki Island Government, and subject to capital budget appropriation in the 2023/24 year, will continue with phase 2. Phase 2 includes the installation of sheet piling, hardstand, culverts and broader improvements around the harbour area.
CIIC, along with the Ports Authority, and the Aitutaki Island Government, look forward to progressing this project for the people of Araura enua and the wider nation.