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Dredging work completed at Avatiu harbour

Tuesday 12 July 2022 | Written by Sian Solomon | Published in Local, National

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Dredging work completed at Avatiu harbour
An excavator dredges up the Avatiu Marina over the weekend. Photo: MARK TE KANI/22071126

Essential dredging work at Avatiu Marina has been completed over the weekend, to ensure the safe docking of the country’s new police patrol vessel from Australia, Te Kukupa II.

Excavating work at the harbour was originally scheduled to start on July 2 to remove a number of boulders that were found over a month ago and establish a proper depth of water, but was postponed until Saturday, July 9.

According to the Ports Authority, Triad Pacific Petroleum Ltd, who was contracted to complete the project, operated heavy machinery and trucks on the Avatiu Marina lighter berth hardstand area using it for the temporary storage of excavated material.

Areas of the Marina were then blocked off as needed, with members of the public asked to keep out of those areas for their safety, and to follow directions of personnel on-site.

“The dredging works started and (was) completed on Saturday, 9 July,” said Nooroa (Bim) Tou, who is the chief executive officer for the Cook Islands Ports Authority. “All boulders were successfully removed.”

“The port does maintenance dredging as the need arises,” he added. “For this particular dredging (it was) for the removal of the boulders, to ensure the depth (of water) meets the safety requirement before the new and larger patrol boat arrives later this month.”

Boulders are safely and securely lifted out of the harbour. Photo: MARK TE KANI/22071127

Earlier this year, a number of mystery boulders were found in Avatiu Harbour posing a risk to the docking of Te Kukupa II, which is expected to arrive in Rarotonga on July 20.

Cook Islands News understands that Police Maritime Surveillance Advisor Lieutenant Commander Mark Te Kani and Police Commissioner James Keenan prepared a request for the boulders to be removed.

It was reported that around 15 boulders were lying within the berth pocket of where the patrol boat normally docks.

Back in May, a spokesman for the Cook Islands Police Service said: “It’s important that the police request be taken up as a priority, so the intention is to consult with the government (and) the appropriate agencies involved such as the Ports Authority, CIIC, and perhaps the PM, due to the importance of protecting the valuable asset the patrol boat.”

“So far, the assessments reveal this to be an uncomplicated job, which should only require an excavator on the wharf to bring the boulders up.”