Jacinda Ardern says Cabinet has agreed it's unsustainable for the Ports of Auckland to be the country's 'key import port'; Report due Thursday expected to recommend a shift to Northland

Jacinda Ardern says Cabinet has agreed it's unsustainable for the Ports of Auckland to be the country's 'key import port'; Report due Thursday expected to recommend a shift to Northland
Image from the Ports of Auckland

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Cabinet has agreed the Ports of Auckland is “not viable as the Upper North Island’s key import port for the long-term”.

“For Cabinet, the question is not if, but where and when it will move,” Ardern said at a post-Cabinet press conference on Monday.

“That is a multi-billion-dollar question.”

She made the statement to provide “context” ahead of Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones on Thursday being expected to officially release a report by the Government’s Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy working group.

The group said, in its interim report completed in August, that it supports the closure of freight operations at Auckland, and for the equivalent capacity to be made available at Northport near Whangerei.

An EY analysis accompanying the report put a $10.3 billion price tag on the move.

However, a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report commissioned by the Ports of Auckland in response to the group, found closing Auckland's port would increase the cost of imports by between $533 million and $626 million a year.

The study, which looked at what would happen if freight had to be delivered to Auckland from other ports, found shifting the port would reduce annual gross domestic product by $1.2 billion.

Ardern said her view remained that expanding the Ports of Auckland at its current location would have “significant environmental impacts”.

She refused to comment on when the Government will make a call on the port’s future, saying: “We acknowledge there is more work to do.”

Ardern didn’t detail exactly which port functions carried out in Auckland Cabinet supported moving elsewhere. Rather she reiterated it was “unsustainable” for the Ports of Auckland to be the country’s “key import port”.

The government working group is chaired by Wayne Brown - a former Far North District Council Mayor who’s reportedly chummy with Jones.

Jones, whose electorate is in Northland, is a huge proponent of moving the port north.

The Labour-New Zealand First Coalition Agreement stipulated a feasibility study on the options for moving the port would be done and “serious consideration” would be given to a move to Northport.

National’s transport spokesperson, Chris Bishop, in October said the party had an open mind about shifting the Ports of Auckland, but was sceptical about the process underpinning the latest reports.

A number of studies have been done over several years on the port’s future.

For example, Auckland Council in 2016 formed a working group to look at the future of the port. Its Port Future Study identified two potential locations for a new port at either the Manukau Harbour, or the Firth of Thames.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

68 Comments

Comment Filter

Highlight new comments in the last hr(s).

boils down to 7th paragraph vs 9th paragraph. And oh, almost forgot, what does the majority of the good people of Auckland say? Another referendum? Why not.

No I suspect we will need YET another working group, Cullen needs some more taxpayer money splashed on him along with bi-partisan political cohort.
Then we will find out we need a TAX created which is paid by all of NZ so Auckland can push some shipping to Northland regardless of cost benefit as heck on the public dime you don't actually need it to work financially do you.

For a country our size - go with what's working elsewhere already, and that isn't a new/upgraded rail line Auckland/Marsden Point; roads around or over the Brynderwyns; relocating a viable workforce and building new port facilities to accommodate the extra volumes. No. It's using the existing rail lines, roads, workers and capacity already in use in - Tauranga. Extra cost? Negligible compared to Northland. But Shane wants a longer run in Parliament; as the next Leader of NZ First, doesn't he...

Yep, pork barrel politics at it's worst.
Also what are the environmental impacts Ardern is concerned with?

Northland is long overdue serious investment
Do it & watch everything from Auckland to Whangarei boom
Tauranga will bleat & it’s farming lobbyists will need to be paid off but truly NZ do the right thing for once
Marsden Pt provides so much more opportunities for Auckland

your kidding right.
it can take a week to get a container up from Tauranga at the moment, the rail is only single lane and same for the tunnel so it works at full capacity .
unless you want to spend the money on a new tunnel and double tracking the rail all the way to metroport (including triple tracking from papakura) you cant increase beyond what is happening now

.

To move to Marsden Point will cost Billions, there is NO rail link for a start, more wharves and facilities need to be built, it will take years. When this government is gone, common sense will prevail.

The government working group is chaired by Wayne Brown - a former Far North District Council Mayor who’s reportedly chummy with Jones

Is there anybody out there who thinks this assessment is going to be even slightly 'fair'? This simply looks like the taxpayers of NZ are being forced to contribute to NZF's re-election fund in the tens of billions.

Jones and Peters would've been dismissed a long time ago from future involvement in this project were this happening in another country.
However, here in NZ, conflict of interest is but a mild inconvenience in our political process.

Yep not much corruption per se but an awful lot of cronyism in this country, which I think is just as bad if not worse.

"Jones and Peters would've been dismissed a long time ago from future involvement in this project were this happening in another country." - I highly doubt that. "Conflict of interest" never seemed to be a problem in politics, and this case wouldn't even raise an eyebrow in most countries.

Wow... so corruption isn't a problem in politics, and we shouldn't worry about losing our status as one of the least corrupt governments. Tell me another joke Jester...

I was reacting to his comment about other countries. Learn to read before you criticise me.

Haha, there are countries where despite huge conflicts of interest one can become president.
What Jones and Peters are doing is child play.

There are better example one needs to aspire to but I am glad you stopped at Trump and didn't compare our fortunate democratic situation to regimes controlled by African warlords.
What sets the good countries apart from the bad ones is very little appetite for child play from a bunch of pollies who are supposed to behave like adults in the first place.

FYI I believe the US didn't plunge into political upheaval overnight; the country has a history of voters being brainwashed by leaders from their favourite party to let them get away with anything in the name of partisanship.

In any "democracy" where despite blatant self interest one can get elected to it's highest office it are still the voters that get the person in and as such is a reflection of the mindset of a majority of the voting public at the time. Which is not necessarily the same as the majority of that nation's population as a whole.
Voter apathy has often created interesting and unexpected situations, but voter apathy is also a reflection of that society as a whole.

Gerrymander it: Winston-Jacinda-Jones.
What competence can't deliver - a second term - PGF and other outright economic bribery might be able to. They'll try absolutely anything.

Wayne Brown & Shane Jones both Northland icons
Both will get very rich
I always said Northland should be invested in & maybe this will drive that
Great climate but oh so much poverty in Northland
Cut them a break NZ
If it’s OK to spend zillions on smooth South Island roads for little traffic apart from milk tankers it also time to invest in Northland
Plus everything between Auckland to Whangarei will boom !
Marsden Pt not Tauranga

Hard to see Auckland booming when you've just crippled the local supply chain but whatever.

Tauranga and upgrade the rail line! Done, you're welcome!

Road also needs a huge upgrade.

Investing taxpayer money in better road connectivity between two cities already witnessing a historic economic boom and record population influx makes heaps more sense for generating long-term payouts.

Is there any other country in the World(apart from landlocked countries) where the most populated city in that country doesn't have a port.?

I can't think of any but I don't know if that's a reason not to move it.

Moscow in Russia , Paris in France ... both have canal links to the sea ... and ports of a sort ..

Cannot think of one were the port is smack bang in the centre of the CBD?

Ever heard of a port called Rotterdam? The busiest port in Europe extends 40km starting at the coastline all the way into the heart of the city.

No - Rotterdam Port is based inland on a river with the CBD further up and on the other side? It would be like the North Shore/Devonport being the Port and CBD totally for the people. Next?

Actually Tauranga desperately needs to get the port out of town the port traffic is terrible, maybe move it to whakatane, it'd be closer to all the forestry!

The trees will eventually be not for cutting ... just planted as carbon sinks to offset our carbon emissions ....

Doubt it, they will be cut and replanted too. It will all have to go to tauranga, what a mess.

. .. apparently , if you cut them you lose the carbon credits owed ... what farmers are jacking up about is current ( new ) govt policies which favours leaving the scabby old pine trees in place permanently ... sequestering carbon .... haaaaaaa ... barking mad !

GBH you know full well you'll get them credits back when you replant.

.. my knowledge base has expanded : thank you .

Forgetting Port Auckland, it is only fair that Marsden is served by a rail link in the same way as almost every other NZ port. Similarly Northland has a right to expect good transport links internally and with the rest of the country. It is long past the time when NZ needs to redress decades of neglect of Northland. Or are we going to sacrifice these relatively basic regional rights to prop up Auckland's port.

all they have to do is fix up the rail to marsden, get kiwirail to open up a metroport out west, give marsden a hand to buy some cranes and bingo marsden point will be able to compete with Auckland same as Tauranga does now.
Auckland over time will downsize as the competition comes on.
the problem is the ownership of Northport, its owned by port of Tauranga and ports of Auckland so neither wants it to grow into competition for containers
https://www.interest.co.nz/news/99414/upper-north-island-port-ownership-...

There is a rail line that ends on Opua wharf..why was this ever allowed to be run down and disused? We could ship live sheep from there?

That rail line is still designated but it's mostly cycleway now and all it had running on it previously was historic trains. I mean if we're going to go full pork barrel then yes, let's have a Northern Explorer train to the ferry to Russell.

"Fair"?
Fairness isn't relevant. If it made sense, both practically and economically then there would have been a case to make the investments. It didn't, so the investments weren't made. It's only politics where the investment is other peoples (tax) money, and the investment gains (Votes) accrue to those not spending their own money.
That said, providing Northland with better road infrastructure would be a good thing as the roads are mostly difficult as best, but the current government criticised the "holiday highway" when in opposition and stopped road building, it would seem hypocritical to start it up now. Oh wait.......

Why are we fighting over a capital intensive business that plans to need 80% of future profit for reinvestment.
A business's value is a multiple of its future free cash and from what I can see there is bugger all.
Add in automation and the reduced need for workers and the benefits are mostly all non financial such as reduced congestion on Auckland roads and better utilisation of the Auckland harbour front land and efficient use of a second inland port in West Auckland along the lines of the south Auckland one so spreading delivery services around Auckland.
So how much should Auckland pay Whangarei to take the port north?

Would automation not make it quicker to unload ships directly onto automated transport, and then automatically transfer containers straight to their destination or to local inland ports at all hours of the night, Then the space used up at the port could be significantly reduced without completely stuffing Auckland's freight arrangements. Bring cars into Manukau Port, half of the city car storage yards are over there.

Is there a link to the cost, benefit paper, the one the defines the environmental impact costs and benefits.
Ardern said her view remained that expanding the Ports of Auckland at its current location would have “significant environmental impacts”.

Work at current location may be the opportunity to improve the environment.

Whoever heard of a harbour city with no port.

there are plenty, most have now moved their container ports away for the inner city

Moving the cargo port from Auckland CBD reduces road and rail congestion making CBD a more enjoyable experience for the people that live or visit.
The port then becomes a visitor arrival point, and a walkable enjoyable space like Wynyard.
The Avondale Freight bypass also will improve rail passenger experience.
Auckland should back the project.

It creates more congestion by moving the container yards to outer Auckland, forcing the trucks to be on the road 2-3 times the distance in each direction, container pick up and return.
I.e. to Manukau from City, or to Manukau from West Auckland (e.g. Kumeu), which one takes longer and blocks the road more if you have thousands of truck movements every day.

It reduces the congestion around the port and CBD by sending the trucks from South and North to West Auckland, south bypassing the inner city through Waterview I assume.
Also rail freight from the North Island will stay on rail to Port Marsden.
My bet is Auckland will be more functional, currently it’s a debacle.

The Urban Planning of Auckland disperses jobs and houses and services into exurbia. The Transport Planning of Auckland centralises activity to service the commute to the CBD.

No it won't. You'll just have trucks coming from the West Auckland distribution centre to the places where those goods are used. The NAL is going to be pretty busy with CRL commuter running schedules.

You can't seriously think putting the region's freight hub in the most congested part of the city that currently has massive traffic issues, no rapid transit and a huge amount of new housing being added is going to be any better than the current situation? I guess if your main concern is having somewhere to have a wine by the water or a billion dollar stadium that gets used ten nights a year, then I guess it becomes more functional?

I believe the city is about people primarily and the Auckland CBD has deliberately intensified the number of residents.
They need space to relax and exercise and areas such as Wynyard are suitable.
Stadiums and ports, containers and cars, can go anywhere near a rail link.

Recently asked a freight forwarder why there is not more freight to Wellington moved by rail, the answer was that for less than container loads it often takes 4 to 5 working days to reach destination. That compared to overnight by truck. Which is why I believe the proposed rail freight numbers are rather optimistic.
Let's assume that Northport is where this is heading and 70% of future freight is to go by rail, as an aside with a 40-50% predicted increase in freight arrival by 2050 that will mean that about half of the current freight will be moved by truck then.
The thing is that by the time the train is loaded the truck is already at it's depot in Auckland with the freight instead of the next day. A hundred wagon train is not loaded in 5 minutes. 2 Hours to get to Kumeu and a similar arduous job to unload, sort, store, and eventually load onto a truck. We need some serious logistics thinking here, not an accountant report with a pre-determined outcome.
I am also wondering what people living near the proposed corridor will think of that new rail link from New Lynn to Onehunga and on to Penrose and Wiri carrying freight trains every 30 minutes or so. (another tunnel perhaps while the equipment is still here).
The energy for the trains has to come from somewhere, if it is not diesel it is gas generated electricity or by windmills along the whole way. The rare earth mining and refining pollution for the latter happens in a kingdom far far away, so that will be ok according to Green law.. At least the 1500 tonne plus of concrete to anchor each windmill will boost the local economy. As there is usually no wind at night we either need storage capacity, gas electricity or simply no trains running at night and when the wind ain't blowin.
And we do need to get rid of that smelter in Tim's country, we need that hydro capacity, and than some, to power all the electric cars and trucks coming our way.
I am all for change but decide in haste and repent at leisure comes to mind.
Tauranga is not the answer either sadly.

Logistics in NZ is horrifically inefficient and adds enormous cost to our economy. I worked in logistics out of Tauranga local, national and imp/exp and that port although it claims to be succesful is just a node on a hugely inefficient network. Container times to Auckl were over a week at times at that was 7 or 8 years ago. POT is the congestion in Tauranga, the trucks and train traffic have the network at or above capacity and none of it is efficient or quick. Although the Port and the stevedoring companies look efficient its only due to paying most of their workers minimum wage and casualised work. The answer is for POT to build its own double tracked rail and dedicated freight roads out of Tauranga, goodness knows they make enough money scalping importers and exporters to pay for it....

agreed people do not understand that containers this time of year are very slow coming to auckland due to constraints of the rail network from the port to metroport.
a ship can sail quicker from Melbourne or Sydney to auckland quicker than a container can come up to auckland.

Why worry its never going to happen just to expensive. Just expand the other ports as required for the extra capacity

Carlos67 - Perfect solution ! Any chance you could run for Mayor next time or PM ?

Great sensible idea but unfortunately that approach doesn’t get Shane votes in Northland.

What about the environmental impacts of building a huge new port on Whangarei Harbour?

This is all about Shane Jones winning a seat in Northland by stringing the Northland people along.

The port of course will never move to Northland at least not in our lifetimes.

Surely it is also about Auckland. Half the bloody CBD waterfront is taken up by the port, and on top of that the city is cut off from expansion towards Parnell by the motorway to the port. Auckland would be a much better city without the port and motorway there.
The port of Auckland makes no economic sense due to the value of the land underneath it. It is only still viable because our rail and road infrastructure is so bad that there isn't an alternative.

You know what makes less sense? Taking the Port out of the region entirely and sticking a freight distribution centre in the most congested part of the city. Something like 80% of what comes in through the Port of Auckland is used in the Auckland region. How's the supply chain going to hold up once you've added a day of pointless rail docking and then still needed the same number of trucks to get the freight all over the city? Northport as the main port of import for Auckland makes even less sense that the current port does in its current location.

Whatever happened to the free market capitalist model? Does it not work for ports?

Not when owned by a council.

or when the port in question Northport is 75% owned by the port of Tauranga and port of auckland .
have you ever wondered why they both own that port and are happy just to do logs and fuel

This is not a simple debate. The ecology as well as the economy are factors. In one sense I am hugely in favour; that of economic development and job opportunities for people of the far north who have been significantly neglected for decades. But the cries for roads and rails miss the mark. Why not transship containers and cargo into smaller coastal freighters and distribute that way? Do a mix of rail, little bit of road and a lot of coastal traffic? How ecologically sound would that be? A lot of regional places with ports that could be developed could also do with the boost to jobs and opportunities too.

Probably not very sound at all once you add up all the extra carbon emissions and supply chain inefficiencies?

There will be jobs during construction of a container port but once built the only humans will be the manager and a security guard at the gate. Modern ports are almost 100% automated.

It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry over the POA "planning" process! As Owen McShane used to say,...never let a state sector town planner anywhere near an important issue. And one might add, keep central government politicians, with their own agenda, well away from macro planning.
Let's be real, by world standards, Auckland is but a large village in a nation just two dots on the bottom of the planet. Auckland is one of our best protected (albeit shallow) harbours ideally suited to commercial port activities, probably the reason it grew more strongly than other places in NZ.
It's port operations grew progressively more mickey mouse until the present system, run by local government mainly for the cash which could be annually extracted to enable expenditure on other pet, sexy projects...usually of little real worth. Our local polies encourage that distinctly Jafa concept that noisy dirty "commerce" is bad, something best dispensed with in favour of sitting at rest on one's apartment balcony admiring the view.
The answer is surely obvious...float POA as a public company (refer PONapier for an example); regulate for sensible control of noise & pollution;. Central government should continue, (affordable) progressive upgrading of communication corridors across the nation...ohh, and trimming back excessive levels of immigration might help too.
That's all, no "master plan" costing squillions necessary. Affirm the old wisdom..." perfection is the enemy of good"

.

I remember when the media flipped its collective shit of a cup of coffee in an Epsom cafe. $10b buys an awful lot of coffee.

That assumes the EY estimate (chicken scratch on back of ciggy packet IMHO) is accurate. I'd triple it.....