The Eastland Community Trust made one of the biggest donations in helping to save the iconic Tolaga Bay Wharf committing $533,000 to the project in 2010. In 2009 the Wharf was upgraded to a Category 1 historic place by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
The Tolaga Bay Wharf holds a significant place in the history of Tolaga Bay and the greater region. The Wharf was instrumental in the development of the township during the pioneering farming days of the East Coast. Its construction was considered daring and groundbreaking in its day and today it remains the longest concrete wharf in an open marine environment in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Wharf was closed as a working wharf and the port deregistered in 1969. A report commissioned by the Gisborne District Council in 1997 declared the structure beyond economic restoration. The community didn’t accept this because the Wharf had become a popular tourist attraction and local community asset, largely because of its uniqueness. In 1999 the Tolaga Bay Save the Wharf Charitable Trust was set up to raise funds to restore the wharf before it was too late.
The fundraising project has been a widespread effort with engineering support from the Gisborne District Council, financial support from the New Zealand Lotteries Grant Board and financial donations from various individuals and organisations who believe in the project. There’s also been a strong commitment from the small Tolaga Bay population of around 850 people who have raised around $100,000. This is testament to how dearly the wharf is treasured by the local community.
The project aimed to restore the Wharf to a condition that will extend its life for at least 40 years and enhance the car parking, landscaping, safety and the entranceway to make it a world class tourist attraction. It will also ensure continued recreational pleasure and economic benefits flow to existing and new generations of beneficiaries for years to come.