6 Wharf Napier Port – HEB Construction

“The project is going very well and we’re running ahead of schedule,”

Daniel Chisnall - HEB Project Manager

Since the late 1970’s HEB Construction, now part of the international VINCI Group, has been designing and building essential New Zealand infrastructure including marine works, roads and bridges, land development and water/waste-water management plants.
Daniel Chisnall is one of HEB’s project managers and has been with the company 13 years. He’s leading the development of Napier Port’s major new facility – 6 Wharf, a project HEB Construction was awarded in November 2019.
Due to be completed at the end of 2022, the new wharf will significantly reduce congestion at the port and will enable larger ships to be accommodated, extend the port’s container vessel holding capacity and give the port the flexibility to berth ships 24 hours a day.
“The project is going very well and we’re running ahead of schedule,” Daniel says.
The 6 Wharf development is the direct result of decades of increasing demand for port facilities. Authorities recognised that, if demand continues as it historically has been, then space for 50% more containers, 94% more cruise ships and 64% more bulk cargo would be needed.
As with many large projects HEB Construction takes on, the company engaged in an ECI (Early Contractor Involvement) process.
Not only is 6 Wharf creating necessary new capacity above the water-line, but it also involves a significant dredging programme to create a new turning area for ships.
In this instance, Heron Construction has been sub-contracted for the below-water dredging work which is scheduled to be completed in the second half of this year.
The whole of the dredging works is made up of over 1.3 million cubic metres of material. As part of the revetment excavation process, existing armour rock has been taken off-shore to create a new reef that will provide ongoing future benefits to the local community.
The impact to the region and in particular to the Hawke’s Bay export sector of building this new wharf at Napier Port cannot be overestimated. The port is the largest in the Central North Island and has increasingly been experiencing two challenges.
First, with the limited wharf space more and more ships are having to wait to be berthed and processed and second, the existing infrastructure does not allow for today’s larger container ships to be adequately handled. Given the region’s strong reliance on export markets to fuel the local economy, 6 Wharf is of major importance to all stakeholders.
The new wharf will be of sufficient size to dock container vessels up to 340 metres long and cruise ships measuring over 360 metres.
With such a large project comes important planning and consultation. Mana whenua, the Dept of Conservation and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council all had significant input into the planning phase.
Culturally important sites, such as Pania Reef and caring for bird-life have been a priority along with careful management to reduce wharf construction noise and minimising impact on sea-vessels using the port have all been factored in
Beyond substantially increasing capacity and future-proofing the wharf for 30 years to come, there have been some really wonderful outcomes in the wharf’s development.
New Zealand’s first on-port sanctuary to protect the kororā (little blue penguin) has been developed. The space is free from humans, dogs and cats and offers the 90+ breeding pairs a safe place to nest.
An unexpected challenge for Daniel and the team working on 6 Wharf, came in the form of natural gas seams in the area where piling was planned.
While piling has been able to continue in the design locations, it has required development of critical Health and Safety protocols that have to be strictly followed. The gas seam is over 30m below ground level and appears to be the result of ancient wood and shell fossils that have been dated by University of Waikato as over 9,300 years old.
Through Covid lockdown, work on 6 Wharf stopped during Level 4, however when staff returned to work, systems were in place to meet safe distancing and hygiene standards so work carried on well.
While there are plenty of demands that go with project managing work of this nature, Daniel says he has always enjoyed working with HEB.
“I was employed by one of the original owner’s of HEB and what appealed to me was they were very much a family values-based company. They are also very versatile in outlook and look after their people.”
Demand for its services continues to grow, particularly in the marine sector.
Daniel says its the problem-solving, helping staff develop and seeing a project grow from paper plans to reality that are extremely satisfying.
“We get involved in projects of real significance to New Zealand and to local communities and economies. They bring lasting benefits and help regions grow.
This is what engages me in the projects we take on and our staff and sub-contractors alike are great to work with.”
© Waterford Press Ltd 2021

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