Divers and tugboat due in Ōpōtiki on Thursday to assess damaged barge in harbour

A team of divers and a salvage tugboat are due in Ōpōtiki to help assess the damaged barge at the centre of Tuesday's dramatic helicopter rescue.

Four HEB Construction staff aboard had to be airlifted off the vessel on Tuesday night after its moorings broke in rough seas.

All four staff were uninjured, but shaken according to HEB bosses.

The 50-metre long barge was being used to dredge Ōpōtiki's new harbour, which officially opened ten days ago, when it ran aground.

Coastguard Ōpōtiki president Ron Jones told Newshub volunteers were asked to help.

"Four experienced volunteers onboard Ōpōtiki Rescue arrived on the scene shortly after. Volunteers attempted to support the vessel, but in the rough conditions, the barge ran aground on the groin wall," Jones said.

Divers and tugboat due in Ōpōtiki on Thursday to assess damaged barge in harbour
Photo credit: Supplied

"Due to the conditions, Coastguard Ōpōtiki couldn't get close enough to get the people onboard off so contacted Motu Helicopters to assist.

"As the helicopter also couldn't land its skids on the barge, Coastguard supplied its scoop net to assist retrieving the four people, which was approved by police. Motu Helicopters then transported all back to the sea wall safely." 

Dramatic footage showed a helicopter rescuing four people from the sinking barge just before 6pm Tuesday at Ōpōtiki's new $100 million harbour development.

Local man Zane Nash witnessed it all unfold. He told Newshub the barge was being heavily pushed around by rough waves.

Ōpōtiki's Harbour transformation project manager John Galbraith told Newshub there is some damage to the rear of the barge, where it has taken on a lot of water, but it's not in any danger of breaking up at this point.  

Galbraith said while there is a digger bolted to the deck of the barge there is no danger of a fuel leak.   

Ōpōtiki has experienced wild weather over the past few days with the area hammered by heavy rain and gale-force winds.  

A police spokesperson told Newshub no one was injured and the rescue effort involved police, a helicopter and Coastguard. 

The new harbour, off State Highway 2 and Snells Road in Ōpōtiki, officially opened only 10 days ago as an "all-weather, all tides access" harbour.