While the words ‘marine education centre’ may conjure up a substantial structure such as the Sir Peter Blake Centre at Long Bay, the centre being built at Gulf Harbour is taking a different approach.
A Coastal-Marine Research Group, based at Massey University, has signed an agreement to use a new Marine Education Centre, at Hobbs Wharf.
Provision of the centre was one of the conditions imposed by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) when granting consent to Top Harbour, the multi-million dollar company owned by Chinese interests, which is developing Fairway Bay.
But rather than being built next to the wharf, as was first mooted, the centre is being built on a 30-tonne floating block of concrete which is lined inside with polystyrene.
Top Harbour’s development consultant Michael Webb-Speight describes the floating solution as “highly attractive and very relevant to its intended purpose”.
Under the conditions set-down by the OIO, it was envisaged that the centre would be a free facility for community use. The Coastguard, in particular, was cited as a group that could use the centre for training and storage.
Mr Webb-Speight says that the small building is consistent with the ‘coastal living’ theme of the development.
“It’s a facility that is quite exciting for the Massey research group,” he says.
Group director Dr Karen Stockin says the ability to tow the centre to research sites in the Hauraki Gulf makes it a bit of a novelty.
“Even with it in situ means we can offer students more of a field trip experience,” she says.
The group is involved in a range of research from marine mammals to marine birds, reptiles, fish, invertebrates and algae. Mr Webb-Speight would like to see a study done on the Mediterranean fanworm, which he says is a huge problem for boaties.