When local resident and Prendos Chartered Quantity Surveyor Sabina Jereb was approached by the Governors Bay Jetty Restoration Trust, she was more than happy to join forces with other volunteers – providing pro bono work to help restore a much-loved jetty to its former glory.
Auckland has its Sky Tower, Christchurch its Cathedral … and Governors Bay has its jetty. Unfortunately, since Sabina moved to the small Canterbury settlement in 2014, she says she’s never had the chance to walk along the iconic local landmark.
“Sadly, in the aftermath of the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, the jetty was deemed unsafe and was closed to the public. Although I’ve never ventured out onto it, I’m well aware of the affection it holds in the hearts of locals and how important its restoration is – not only to the Governors Bay community but to the greater Christchurch region. I can only imagine the feeling of watching the sun rise from the end of the jetty, hills in the background. It’s time to bring it back to life.”
Originally built in 1874, the jetty has been a popular local attraction for many years. The original structure measured 20 metres and was built to ferry passengers and goods to and from the nearby port of Lyttelton, and on to the markets of Christchurch. Over the years, the jetty was extended to its current length of roughly 300 metres in order to combat accessibility issues caused by sedimentation around the upper harbour.
Once Governors Bay was accessible by road, the jetty became somewhat redundant for transportation purposes, but continued to grow in popularity for recreational use. When the Council decided not to repair the jetty, the community rallied together and came up with an action plan to save it.
In 2015, the Governors Bay Jetty Restoration Trust was formed. Its Board of Trustees brings together a range of professional skills including law, charity management, engineering, surveying, logistics and communications. Following negotiations with Christchurch City Council, an agreement was reached whereby the Trust would purchase the jetty for $1, raise funds and manage the restoration project. Once completed, the restored jetty would be sold back to the council for the original purchase price.
“After the Trust was formed,” Sabina explains, “it obtained professional advice on the jetty restoration design and presented various options and costs to the community, before a final design was agreed upon. The result is a major project that involves the removal of much of the existing jetty, with the exception of six historic bents, and will see approximately 130 new piles drilled into the seabed.”
Thanks to careful planning, initial maintenance costs will be minimal, and by raising the deck height, predicted changes in sea levels due to climate change will be allowed for. Sabina says the project’s planning phase is now well underway.
“Building consent has been granted and the Trust is successfully raising funds for the restoration through grants, donations and fundraising activities, such as the ‘sponsor a plank’ campaign, calendars, T-shirts and even a jetty board game! Reclaimed wood from the jetty will be repurposed, sold or made into furniture to raise further funds. The Christchurch City Council has also committed over $900k towards the project.”
The Trust has been fortunate to receive the support of many volunteers, some of whom – including Sabina – are experts providing free professional services.
“As a Quantity Surveyor, I am delighted to provide cost consultancy advice throughout the project as required.”
Work is now in progress to create a schedule of materials to send to potential suppliers and contractors. Engineers at Lyttelton Port Company, experts in building and maintaining wharfs, will share their knowledge during the procurement phase to ensure the restoration is cost effective and durable, while staying true to the Trust’s philosophy of building the jetty like-for-like.
The next step is the preparation phase, which will involve sourcing materials, negotiations with the appointed contractor and logistical planning for transport, material storage and volunteer works. As Sabina explains, the plan is to use as much locally-sourced wood for the superstructure as possible.
“It was initially envisaged that all additional timber required for the rebuild would need to be imported from Australia. Fortunately, the Trust managed to source timber locally from a eucalyptus forest on the outskirts of the nearby town of Little River.”
Around thirty 40-metre high trees were harvested, which was considered an important milestone for the Trust as it showed the start of the project was not far away. The timber was transported to a North Canterbury sawmill facility for milling and will be used to replace jetty stringers, railings and planks. Piles and pile caps will most likely still be made from Australian hardwood.
See Trustee, Stu Bould, explaining the benefits of using local hardwood timber:
“In addition to the financial savings made by not having to transport all materials from Australia, rebuilding the jetty from locally grown trees is a real environmental win,” says Sabina. “Furthermore, the forest was thinned to harvest the wood, so most of the trees are still there and growing stronger. The Trust also plans to replant trees, so they can be used by future generations on other jetty restoration projects throughout the Banks Peninsula.”
Providing enough funds can be raised, the approved design allows for a floating pontoon at the end of the jetty, extending the structure by an additional 20 metres.
A ramp leading from the pontoon to the end platform of the jetty will offer easy 24-hour water access for kayaks etc, and cleats will be incorporated to allow boats to be tied up. At the land end entrance of the jetty there are plans for landscaped gardens and a picnic area, which will be a really positive addition.
“If sufficient funds are in place, construction could begin as early as October this year,” says Sabina. “The project is a perfect example of a community coming together to build a recreational attraction for all, through forming collaborations and partnerships in pursuit of a mutual goal. I’m proud to have been given the opportunity to join forces with other volunteers towards the restoration of such an iconic landmark.”
Fundraising efforts are ongoing. If every plank gets sponsored, the jetty will be saved. To support this unique restoration project please head to www.savethejetty.org/how-you-can-help