The Christmas spirit has reached the Mahurangi River Restoration Trust this year in waves – $1.5 million has been donated towards the project already.
Since the dredge took its first scoop of mud in August, a kilometre of work has been completed.
The total cost of the project is $5 million and will see the digging of a 15-metre wide channel to provide all tide access up the river for boats such as the Jane Gifford.
Donors that can be named are Auckland Council, Pub Charity, Warkworth Community Shop, Warkworth Garden Club, Warkworth Lions Club, Lions Club of the Kowhai Coast and Warkworth Rotary.
Mahurangi River Restoration Trust campaign manager Kathryn Ashworth says a number of individuals and businesses have also donated.
“It’s really great to see so many people getting behind the project financially because they can see its potential,” Kathryn says.
The project is expected to be finished in three years, with five kilometres left to dredge.
“Currently, we can only shift one dredge load per day because it can only be done at high tide – so progress may seem slow at the moment.”
Mahurangi River Restoration Trust advisory board member Steve Burrett says once work is completed it will open up opportunities for the town, with some parties showing interest already.
“We’ve worked out the Jane Gifford could easily take 17,500 people on trips a year and we will restore the steam boat Kapanui so it can also run day trips,” Steve says.
“Up to 50 boats used to come up the river when it was deeper and that sort of activity would bring huge economic value to Warkworth.”
He says a few commercial operations have already expressed an interest in using the river once dredging is complete.