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CentrePort to invest $63m in strengthening waterfront land after quake

Work at CentrePort to stabilise the container cranes, with a bespoke platform within the wharf.

CentrePort has set aside $63 million to strengthen its land on Wellington's waterfront after November's 7.8 magnitude quake caused significant damage.

The company, owned by Wellington and Manawatu ratepayers, is now consulting international experts to help figure out what the work will be.

To date, CentrePort has spent $28m securing 125m of the 585m wharf, which included 644 gravel columns being set in the ground to reduce any liquefaction from future earthquakes and provide resilience to the temporary works.

Chief executive Derek Nind​ said they were now looking at how to do that across the entire port.

READ MORE:
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"We try not to talk about rebuild, we talk about regeneration. And what do I mean by that? What I mean is if we go to rebuild, we'll get what we had, which was 20th century assets and 20th century thinking.

CentrePort chief executive Derek Nind.

"What we need is 21st century assets for the next 50 to 100 years, and we need to regenerate the port."

Total material damage claims as a result of the quake was estimated to be $350m for the port and in excess of $106m for its commercial properties.

To date, CentrePort has received $173.7m of insurance income, but that figure was expected to rise.

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On Tuesday, insurers agreed Statistics House should be demolished, as the Kaikōura earthquake caused the partial collapse of two floors.

"We got hit, but we've been working hard on getting the business back up and running," Nind said.

"[There's been] lots of juggling, but the thing is we are making really, really good progress."

On Tuesday, insurers agreed Statistics House, which is on port land and owned by the port, should be demolished, as the Kaikōura earthquake caused the partial collapse of two floors. Nind hoped most of the work could be done during the Christmas holidays.

Meanwhile, the future of BNZ Harbour Quays, which is three times the size of Statistics House, remains uncertain.

Engineers were still assessing the building to determine how much damage there was, Nind said.

BNZ Harbour Quays has been revalued to $73m, based on its repaired state, which is down from $98m prior to the quake.

CentrePort chairman Lachie Johnstone said they were not sure whether they would rebuild on the land.

"Out of any challenge, comes opportunity and we've got an opportunity to reset, because of the significance of the earthquake, and that's going to be part of that resetting process."

In addition, understanding how much land was needed for the port, what the impact of commercial property would be, and "whether we want to be in it or out of it" would all be considered, he said.

"But absolutely no decisions have been made yet. It's just too early to make those decisions."

CentrePort's underlying profit, after tax and before earthquake-related income, was $8.6m for the year ending June 2017. This was down $4.7m from the previous year.

The board was pleased by the financial results and the progress the company had made to recover from last year's earthquake, Johnstone said.

"In these early stages, each month we learn a lot more than we knew the prior month.

"And every time we get something like the Stats building we can put a tick behind that. We have certainty," he said.

"And there are so many pieces in the puzzle, every time we get an extra tick, there is one less to be uncertain about."

Nind said overall, the past year had been "like a rollercoaster." "It's been an emotional journey. It's amazing what we are able to do, what the guys have been able to do … [but] there's been learnings as well."

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