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Focus Paihia presents MOTU ITI, aka the PAIHIA SWIMMING PONTOON, now in place for your swimming pleasure. Located in the middle of Taiputuputu Pahi Beach, almost opposite St Paul’s Church. It is wonderful to see it proving to be so popular after the splendid effort put in by the Focus Paihia Pontoon Phantoms! Though this project was funded by Focus Paihia (Thank you FP!)  it would not have been possible without the team of volunteers behind it and the local businesses that provided materials at and below cost. What would ordinarily have cost close to $25,000 came in under $11,000. Amaze-balls!

TIFFANY HOLLAND and BLAKE CAMERON where the drivers of this project. It was a 3 day build hampered by the odd shower and by Tiff unfortunately underestimating the number of bolts! Aside from that it was smooth sailing for the extremely able bodied crew that put it all together. There are thank you’s to be made…

Thanks to TIFF for the research, securing the funding and the resource consent, sourcing pontoon materials, labour & logistics and for chipping in with the lads. Thanks to BLAKE, a major contributor with the resource consent. He also sourced all of the new mooring materials and managed the mooring construction. Blake also worked on the pontoon build and installed the new mooring too! It’s safe to say he was involved in all aspects. Thank you Blake –  Tiff says she could not have done this project without you.

There are many more involved… these things take a village! Thank you to RACHEL FUSSELL for her help with the resource consent and to PAUL MAXWELL (NORTHLAND REGIONAL COUNCIL) for making it a clear and prompt process. Thank you to RICHARD DE ROSA (FLYING KIWI PARASAIL) for storing the pontoon pods and delivering them to the build site. Huge thanks to the BAY OF ISLANDS YACHT CLUB  – ROBIN SMITH, DARRYL HONEY and RUSSELL CARLYON – for free use of the club’s slipway and cradle, to build the pontoon. It was tricky timing with Waitangi week in full swing! Thanks to RUSS for operating the slip way for the launch and for helping out with the pontoon construction too. Also to ROBIN HOLLAND for all of his support, especially for the early morning dash to cover the deck in tarps before the rain hit – so the staining was not delayed.

The bulk of the labour was provided by members of our (now famous) Focus Paihia Hard Core Crew – GRANT HARNISH, GREG JONES and BRUCE GORDON. These guys are legends! ‘Man of the Match’ goes to GREG JONES who put in more time than anyone. Also a special mention for Greg’s wife SUZI JONES who manned the fort (OUTRIGGER MOTEL) enabling Greg to build this beauty for us all to enjoy! The hard core team were also supported at different times by ADAM EVERS, TROY O’DONOGHUE and TONY CODLIN (TOTAL ENGINEERING). Thank you guys! TONY also built and supplied the mooring connections for the pontoon, free of charge. Some serious chunks of stainless there!  And thanks to JAN WARD for providing delicious food for the troops.

pontoon building team


Thanks to ROGER GIRVEN for the mooring construction – for welding up the shackles and cutting that super heavy chain. Thank you to CHRIS GAILBRAITH and FAR NORTH HOLDINGS who supplied the steel mooring block at no charge. Also to ROB GALLEY (NORTHLAND SPARS & RIGGING)  for help with the splicing of the mooring ropes and for supplying and making the pontoon rope handles – ideal for hanging onto while you wait for your turn on the ladder.

And speaking of the ladder… What a beauty! Master craftsmanship from ROGER COSTELLO at FELL ENGINEERING. Huge thanks to PETER MORRISON and the team at FELL, who supplied the ladder at well below cost. Bespoke design and all! We love it!

Thank you to the NORTHLAND REGIONAL COUNCIL HARBOURMASTERS OFFICE, OPUA for assisting with construction of the mooring tackle. Also the Harbourmaster’s vessel WAIKARE and crew, PETER THOMAS and BLAKE CAMERON for placing the mooring, free of charge and extra special thanks to JIM LYLE, THE HARBOURMASTER,  for supporting the pontoon project.

And last but never the least, huge thanks to ANDY VANASCHE and the team at BAY OF ISLANDS ITM who supplied all timber and hardware at cost. Their willingness to support and accommodate Focus projects is just magic! Especially with the endless questions and visits from Tiff! Thank you all for the great service guys!

And so she was completed and launched on a mid tide, under sunny skies, on Waitangi Day Eve. JOHN KEY stopped by (ok so he was passing by) and there was even a navy guard of honour (ok so it may have been for JK). The PM was delighted to see our community effort, and posed for a brilliant photo bombed shot. With a heartfelt maori blessing from VERN WITEHIRA (thank you VERN) and splash of champagne on the bow everyone held their breath as the MOTU ITI rolled into the water – the water sitting perfectly, halfway down the pods. It was a huge relief to have got the displacement factor right!

She was then towed into position and with a quick swim for Blake, to secure her to the mooring, MOTU ITI was in action. Project volunteers and family members swam out from the beach for the inaugural jump – locals almost pipped to the post by a super keen tourist already swimming out!

Remember that the water can be shallow at times, please always check first before jumping or diving. Happy Swimming Paihia! Bombs away! Click HERE to see a video clip of the INAUGURAL JUMP.

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