Te Whiti – Napier Port’s 6 Wharf ready for the biggest ships

For Beca’s team of specialists from many disciplines who worked on the design of Napier Port’s 6 Wharf, the ~$175 million project has been a success story in collaboration, innovation, and keeping a watchful eye out for the resident kororā (little blue penguins).
6 Wharf was opened with a karakia at dawn on 22 July and will be known as Te Whiti, meaning to transfer, or the place where cargo is transferred from Hawke’s Bay to the world. Measuring 350m in length, it has been designed to increase capacity at the Napier Port by accommodating larger container and bulk cargo ships and improve availability across all of Napier Port’s five other wharves. In addition, it will host the biggest cruise ships currently in operation, which will help support economic growth and increased tourism in the region. It has also provided a success story in sustainability – with the establishment of a thriving “penguin motel” and two new artificial reefs using limestone from the dismantled revetment seawall.


For Beca’s John Youdale, the project proved ideal for bringing together a diverse team from across Australia and New Zealand to produce an efficient and cost-effective wharf design.

Working on a fast-track project such as 6 Wharf is always a challenge. The high seismicity of the area, the exposure of the wharf to long period waves, and the lack of hard rock in the area were some of the key issues,” says John. “Working collaboratively with Napier Port and the contractor resulted in innovations such as the use of concrete blocks for slope armouring and Cutter Soil Mixing (CSM) for seismic stability of the slope in a large area. Delivering the project ahead of programme and under budget further demonstrates that having the right team in the waka can produce exceptional results.”

Collaboration was key to implementing innovative design and achieving construction efficiencies during the ECI process – Beca worked with Napier Port and the contractor, HEB Construction, to adopt unique design elements to mitigate the impact of future rising sea levels and the risk of liquefaction in the event of a large earthquake. Examples of that innovation were the use of ~4,300 precast cuboidal blocks for the revetment slope armour, and the application of CSM to form a lattice structure to provide seismic resistance in the weak soils.

The suspended reinforced concrete wharf deck is supported by 400 reinforced concrete piles.  Napier Port worked with Cavotec, who supplied the latest in automated mooring technology that will improve safety and speed in cargo operations. Beca provided all structural, marine and geotechnical works design. During the construction phase, Beca provided full time construction monitoring and Engineer to the Contract services.

For Napier Port, sustainability was a key consideration in the construction of 6 Wharf. While not part of Beca’s scope, a true success story involved the establishment of a penguin sanctuary for approximately 70 pairs of kororā (little blue penguins) nesting in the construction site area. With the help of a conservation dog, the penguins were located and relocated to the sanctuary before the area was excavated. More than 185 birds were microchipped, and cameras in two of the nesting boxes now provide a live-stream channel on YouTube– known as “Keeping Up With the Kororā” to allow the public to watch the chicks as they grow. In the first year, two penguins fledged in the motel, increasing to 13 in the second year, and an even larger number expected this year. More than 178 pairs have now been identified nesting in the port, both in the sanctuary and other areas outside the construction zone. The interest in the penguins in the community has grown significantly, with waterfront property owners reporting penguins nesting on their properties.

Some key statistics of 6 Wharf project include:
  • 390m in length, 35 m wide
  • 13m berth depth with provision to dredge to 14.5m in the future
  • 400 concrete piles
  • 10 MoorMaster mooring system units
  • 1.2 million cubic metres of material dredged over two yearS
More information about 6 Wharf can be found at this link 6 Wharf - Napier Port, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. And catch up with the Kororā here. Kororā Sanctuary - Napier Port, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
See also July 2022