The developers of a major marina expansion in the Bay of Islands have promised tangata whenua they will protect and enhance the marine environment.
Council-owned company Far North Holdings has begun work on the project, after a blessing by Reverend Hirini Parata from Moerewa and Glenys Davis from Kawakawa.
The $13 million expansion will create more than 170 rental berths at the popular marina, and about 70 jobs.
But the unlawful taking of land at Opua has been a sore point with local hapū since the 1830s and they originally objected to the plan out of concern for the Taumarere River.
After Far North Holdings recognised their mana whenua and struck a partnership deal with the hapū last summer, they agreed to support it.
The marina expansion will take 15 months to complete, and it is forecast to pump an extra $23 million a year into the Far North economy.