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May June 2020 Marina World

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The magazine for the marina industry


CRISIS MANAGEMENT Glass half full for NZ marina operators Yachting and maritime pastimes have a history of thriving in times of hardship. Many of New Zealand’s yacht clubs and sailing classes came out of the depression and post-WW2 years. They were founded in the days where there were fewer travel and lifestyle opportunities and, for this same reason, the marine and marina industries in New Zealand could be part of the country’s economic recovery today. On the eve of the move to the relative freedom of Level 2 [12 th May], and even after seven weeks of strict lockdown, there is a lot of reason for optimism for the marine and marina industries, say operators of the country’s marinas at a meeting of the New Zealand Marina Operators Association (NZMOA) Executive. “Right now we are focused on measures to eliminate COVID, to get out of lockdown as quickly as possible,” says Andrew Welsh, general manager at Wellington’s Chaffers Marina. “We all need to play the game to get out of it quickly.” Assuming that New Zealand’s lockdown is successful, what will the ‘new normal’ look like for the marina industry and those it supports, including its customers, commercial tenants, marine suppliers, marina contractors and its staff? Andrew Wilkes is owner-operator of the stainless steel engineering firm Dixon Manufacturing. He has noticed that while no marina related projects have been cancelled (some have been postponed) there is a pulling back on other projects that has put strain on small-medium sized businesses like his. This includes some cancelled boat builds and the cancellation of the annual Hutchwilco Boat Show in May. Wilkes says it’s too early to tell what the industry will look like, but he expects we will have a clearer picture in the next two months. Generally, however, Wilkes – even as a business owner – sees reason to be positive. For one thing, many New Zealanders who cannot travel overseas will have more opportunity to use their boats, and with that they will need to maintain, upgrade and provision them, spending money with New Zealand businesses in the process. The reduced price of fuel is helpful to those who own powerboats too. This is also the mindset of Tom Warren, director of Heron Construction, which specialises in building marinas all around the country. Left: Port Opua, Bay of Islands Marina, is located in a stunning natural environment where boating is a very popular pastime. Below: Picton, one of the Marlborough Sounds Marinas, is a busy boating hub. Warren also sits on the board of New Zealand Marine. “People will still enjoy getting out on the ocean, it is part of the New Zealand psyche. I believe the marine sector will be vibrant,” he notes. Two months ago, many of New Zealand’s marinas had redevelopment or expansion projects planned or underway, to accommodate more boats, commercial buildings, and to improve environmental outcomes. While Warren foresees slow down in some waterfront infrastructure projects - the Marlborough region, for example, is now rethinking some of its programmes - he confirms there is a long term shortage of marina berths in the country and demand remains high. Marina consultant Phil Wardale is on the cusp of starting two new waterfront projects with support from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund. He concedes there are unknowns. “We are now going into one of the biggest recessions the world has seen. We know it’s there but we won’t feel it for a little while,” he observes. “There are people who were doing well who now don’t have businesses. As an industry, we need to ensure that we choose to support New Zealand businesses and New Zealand people however we can, and that our projects are designed to do this.” Chris Galbraith is general manager of Far North Holdings and chair of NZMOA. From his position in the Bay of Islands, he believes that despite stresses in the economy, the industry is fortunate to have a passionate group of New Zealanders who love boating. “Even in a depression or recession, we can get out on our boats,” he says, “and spend money on them.” 34 - May/June 2020

CRISIS MANAGEMENT Accommodating nearly 2,000 boats, Westhaven Marina in central Auckland is a focal point of the capital. By nature, boating is also the ideal pastime for isolating from a virus. You can isolate with your ‘bubble’ on your own vessel, and with blessing to go ahead in early 2021, the 36 th America’s Cup will be another boost. Galbraith asserts that the marina industry is in a position to support other maritime industries and it should do so. “There will be challenges but we are here to keep going and to keep the dream alive,” he concludes. UPDATE – 2 nd June A survey of the New Zealand marina industry, analysed as this issue of Marina World was being finalised, shows the industry emerged from lockdown in a strong, confident position. Members of the NZMOA were asked to indicate how their metrics or perceptions had changed as a result of COVID-19. 75% of respondents say their confidence in the industry for the next six months has improved, and 81% believe that as a result of the pandemic, marina projects, including extensions, refurbishments and improvements, will continue as planned. 68% of these believe that there will be more projects planned as a result of lockdown, possibly as part of economic stimulus packages from government and councils. 19% believe marina projects will slow down as a result of the pandemic. Generally, operations report that use of their boat ramp and marina facilities has increased: 50% report use of marina facilities is up, and 44% report use of boat ramp facilities is up. 25% report a decrease in use of marina facilities. The survey was completed at the end of May when weather conditions were favourable for boating. Most operations report that customers are continuing to pay their invoices as usual. MARTINI MARINAS PONTILI GALLEGGIANTI / FLOATING PONTOONS - May/June 2020 35

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