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Vision to support Whanganui ferry investigation

March 27th, 2017

Vision Motueka will act as the main support group and conduit for information at the southern end of the proposed Whanganui to Motueka ferry service, at least until the completion of the feasibility studies.

The proposal, the brainchild of Neville Johnson of Midwest Ferries based in Whanganui, envisages a roll-on, roll-off ferry service from Whanganui to Port Motueka carrying heavy trucks, campervans, cars and passengers.

It was presented to Motueka residents in December last year and drew mainly positive responses (see our earlier story).

Since that date, the Kaikoura earthquakes have emphasised the need for an alternative interisland ferry service in case of problems with the Picton to Wellington service.

Neville was in Motueka last week and met with Vision Motueka's Board of Trustees to discuss how the local group could help facilitate the early stages of the project.

This present stage involves the conduct of a professional Feasibility Study by transport and tourism consultants, to be followed by the development of an environmental impact report.

Midwest Ferries is working to an April 24th deadline to produce its business plan by May after the company was asked to back-up its proposal with a professional appraisal by those behind the project.

Neville said the company needed to raise $100,000 to fund the business plan and had already raised $42,000. This money is being used to pay for the consultant services and their operating expenses.

In order to achieve this, Midwest Ferries has set up a funding trust, of which Gail Jewell, a Vision Motueka trustee, is also a trustee.

They are asking for community support through donations to fund the studies, under an agreement whereby if the ferry service ultimately eventuates, shares representing the value of the donations will be allocated to the donors.

If there is insufficient interest to fund the feasibility study and user and ecological impact report, donations will be refunded.

Vision Motueka will help to promote these donations. Vision will also conduct an online survey in the next few weeks to gauge the interest, ideas and concerns of Motueka people about the proposal.

Vision Motueka chairman David Armstrong says they do not necessarily support the whole concept without further information, but do want the idea to be investigated and well-publicised and all information about its progress and findings to be available to all residents.

"It sounds like a great positive idea for economic development in the Motueka area, but the full facts need to be known, including any possible significant environmental impacts and the mitigation, so we residents can have informed opinions."

Neville says the feasibility studies will be needed to confirm the viability of the project, and will be used to attract investors and owners for the ferry venture and business plan.

For more information about business expects of the project, read this article in the New Zealand Herald.

If you wish to make a donation to help this project move forward, please contact Gail Jewell at 027 437 2030.

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