Wanganui Harbour Board
The establishing Act (see above) allowed for a Board consisting of 9 members, 3 ex-officio and 6 elective. The Board’s main function was to develop and improve the river for maritime transport. The newly established Board took over control of the River Bridge and wharves from the Borough Council. The Board was given the powers to appoint staff, pass bylaws, raise funds (through a sinking fund), and issue debentures (Wanganui Bridge and Wharf Act 1872). Income was also generated from tonnage dues from incoming vessels, a river and harbour improvement rate, and profits from lands invested in the Board; also from bridge toll rentals. It seems that the fortunes of the Harbour Board closely reflected the economic conditions of the Wanganui region. There is some evidence of prosperity during the 1920s and World War II. The depression period of the 1930s and the postwar era indicated a significant decline. From the 1950s the Board suffered from competition with other ports and reduced its activities to those of navigation and river protection. While there was ongoing interest in the development of Wanganui port facilities, this seemed to fail because of technical difficulties. The Board held its final meeting on 28 June 1988, after which it was disestablished as part of the major restructuring of local authorities. Its assets and functions were inherited by the newly formed Wanganui District Council and a port consortium, Wanganui Port Ltd which subsequently became Ocean Terminals Ltd, later taken over by River City Port Ltd. The Board’s records were inherited by the Council at that time. After spending some time in the abandoned Board offices in Castlecliff they were transferred to the Museum basement prior to processing. The condition of the records is not good, owing to poor storage and records management by the Harbour Board, as well as damage and loss during the 1988-1990 period.