A dredge has been blessed before setting to work to deepen the Tauranga Harbour shipping channel so it can take bigger ships.
A blessing ceremony was held this morning on the Mount Maunganui Wharf with representatives from local iwi before work begins, Port of Tauranga says.
Danish dredging company, Rohde Nielsen, will start the work next week and it will take until August 2016 to finish.
The shipping channel inside the harbour will be deepened to 14.5m from 12.9m and the channel outside the harbour will be deepened to 15.8m.
The first of the two trailer suction hopper dredges, Brage R, arrived earlier in the month.
The larger Balder R is expected later in the year.
The dredging work is the final part of an investment plan to make the port capable of handling bigger ships.
Chairman David Pilkington said when releasing annual results in September that the five-year $350 million capital investment programme would develop the infrastructure to support visits from 6,500 TEU(twenty-foot equivalent units) ships.
"The programme, which has included the development of freight marshalling facilities across New Zealand as well as significant port infrastructure investment, has delivered increases in freight to the port from outside of our traditional catchments," he said.
The port handled 851,106 TEUs in the 2015 financial year, up 12 percent on the prior year, while total cargo volumes increased two per cent to 20.2 million tonnes.
Trans-shipped containers, those transferred from one ship to another, increased by 17 percent to 203,417 TEUs at the Tauranga Container Terminal.NZN