30 May 2017

Chathams wharf putting holes in boats - fisherman

7:22 am on 30 May 2017

A new wharf on remote Pitt Island in the Chathams has bashed holes in fishing boats, says a resident.

A photo posted on Facebook shows the storm in the Chatham Islands today.

Cyclone Pam damaged the Chatham Islands wharf in 2015. Photo: Marlon Thomas

It cost $4.7 million to build the wharf just before Cyclone Pam. Then afterwards it cost $1.8m to repair damage from the storm and to replace the wharf's steel fenders with wooden spring ones.

But, a fisherman, who didn't want to be named, said the steel-and-timber fenders put holes in boats, forcing himself and others to spend time and money getting their vessels repaired.

"It was just wrecking them, it really was, it was hopeless," he said. "It was a bit of cock up before."

He said it had been going on for a year.

A contractor has just finished replacing the fenders but another of the 30 or so locals on the island, Brent Mallinson, said one other problem remained.

"You'd have a lot more swell or wave action at the berthing place of where you're actually parking your boat than we had in the original wharf," said Mr Mallinson, a boat owner, who runs the Flowerpot Lodge on Pitt Island.

He put this down to the new wharf being a solid structure and not on piles anymore.

"So whether you call that a design issue or what, I don't know what you call it but it was certainly noticeable." He added in many ways the wharf was wonderful - bigger and stronger.

The chartered professional engineer, Gary Teear, responsible for the design said there was nothing wrong with his work.

"Initially the fender piles that were put in, they were counted as too high, so they were cut off," said Mr Teear.

"They then came back and said they were too low because their boats landed on top of the piles.

"So then they had to be extended again. This sort of rubbish, non-stop.

"It was just their demand for services in excess of what they were entitled to."

The $1.8m for alterations and cyclone repairs was split three ways between the government, the contractor and the Chatham Islands Enterprise Trust.

Mr Teear said the trust tried to engage other engineers to fault his work, but nothing came of it.

Last week's government Budget put aside $3.4m for a breakwater to protect the Pitt Island Wharf and for maintenance.

The Enterprise Trust's chief executive Brian Harris said he was not aware of any dispute with Mr Teear being pursued.

He said the repairs and alterations, plus the breakwater, would provide an open-water wharf that would last another 50 years even in the Chathams very rough seas.