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A working group report looking at the feasibility of relocating the Ports of Auckland is expected soon

A working group report looking at the feasibility of relocating the Ports of Auckland is expected soon

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones says he’s expecting to receive a report in the next four to six weeks which could have major ramifications for the future of the Ports of Auckland.

The paper will be from the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy working group which the government established last year to look at the development and delivery of a freight and logistics in the country’s Upper North Island. It has also been tasked with investigating the feasibility of relocating the Ports of Auckland to Northport in Whangarei.

The group is being chaired by former Far North Mayor Wayne Brown and includes KiwiRail chairman Greg Miller, who Jones describes as an international expert in logistics, as well as Susan Krumdieck, Shane Vuletich, Sarah Sinclair and Noel Coom.

The New Zealand First MP says he remains committed to seeing Whangarei’s Northport grow and he’s keen to see the working group’s findings.

"Obviously the officials and ministers have to chew it over and no doubt further work will follow from it,” Jones says. “We need to be confident about what the options are. We’re very keen to see a transfer of economic activity from the Ports of Auckland further north. It was something we campaigned on, but the mathematical reality is we only got 7% of the vote so that means we can’t deliver everything in our manifesto.”

He says the working group report will also look at a number of other issues, including the Port of Tauranga, Northport, KiwiRail and access to the ports.

But Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the Ports of Auckland is an important asset for the council and the people of Auckland and any decision to move it or its operations shouldn't be taken lightly.

He says it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in it over the years and it returns a healthy dividend to the Auckland Council as its owner.

“We accept that at some point the growth of freight into Auckland will outgrow the land available for the Port,” Goff says. “We understand also that moving the Port will free up access to the foreshore and some valuable land that can be used to meet the needs of Aucklanders in other ways.

“However, the Port is also a critical lifeline of freight into our city which is vital to our social and economic well-being.

He says before the Ports of Auckland, or any of its operations are moved, it’s important that there’s a strong business case supporting it.

“That decision needs to be evidence, rather than politically, based and the costs of alternative infrastructure and the impact on the cost of goods reaching Auckland need to be carefully and objectively calculated.”

And he says before any agreement is reached it’s important that the Auckland Council, on behalf of the city, has its say.

“The decision needs to take into account the city, the region and the country’s best interests. I called for a regional port study long before the change in Government and I welcome the work being undertaken to demonstrate what the best outcome will be.

“As I said to the Port’s working group, this is a really serious exercise and all of us need to be confident that the assessment of alternative port sites is thorough, impartial and objective. That’s just common sense.”

Jones says he can understand Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s opposition to talk of moving the Ports of Auckland to Whangarei.

He says the fact the Auckland Council receives an annual dividend of $51.1 million from it means it will be hard for Goff to see it go. But Jones says he’s not concerned about comments from Goff that the working party’s findings will be predetermined.

“Phil’s a politician and he’s got a track record of letting his tongue run away from him.”

In 2016 the Auckland Council formed a working group to look at the long term options for the Ports of Auckland. The resulting Port Future Study said that the port would face problems going forward due to its location and states:

“Capacity will constrain the port’s ability to meet future freight and cruise [ship] demands, which may limit economic growth in the long term. Tension between, and competition for, limited resources for the CBD and POAL will lead to sub-optimal outcomes for one or both.”

The report identified two potential locations for a new port at either the Manukau Harbour or the Firth of Thames which it said should be investigated.

The Auckland Council outlined its concerns about the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy working group in a letter to it late last year.

“Considerable resources and time were invested in Auckland’s Port Future Study. We are concerned that adequate resources appear not to be available in this current work, despite the much larger scope and the substantial requirement for a detailed, technical evidence base.”

It said the two relocation options for the port highlighted in the Port Future Study should be considered by the working group.

“Indicating a strong preference for relocation of some or all of POAL activities to Northport prior to any analysis is unhelpful. In particular it is concerning that the Manukau and Firth of Thames options identified in the Port Future Study, have been dismissed prior to any robust evidence of viable alternatives. These options were recommended for detailed analysis after considerable work by the Port Future Study and cannot be lightly dismissed.

“Possible relocation of Auckland’s Port, which is in your Terms of Reference, would involve expenditure of billions of dollars. It is important that all credible options for relocation be examined before a decision of such magnitude is made.”

Despite the obvious tensions between Jones and Goff over their preferences for the Ports of Auckland it doesn’t look like the company is letting it stop its own planning for the future.

The Ports of Auckland refused to comment for this story but in a statement to the Hauraki Gulf Forum last month it says it is planning to apply to the Auckland Council for a 10-15 year consent to dredge the Waitemata Harbour channel so bigger ships can access the port.

Spokesman Matt Ball says the largest container ships it can currently handle can carry around 5,000 twenty-foot containers and have a draft of 12.7 metres.

But he says by dredging the harbour the Ports of Auckland will be able to double the size of the ships visiting the port which will be able to 11,000 containers and have a draft of 15.2 metres.

“We need to deepen parts of the channel so these ships can get to the port. The shallowest parts of the Waitemata Navigation Channel are 12.5 metres deep at low tide, and need to be deepened to 14.5m at low tide to allow the next generation of ships to safely use our channel.” 

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Shane Jones' comment: “Phil’s a politician and he’s got a track record of letting his tongue run away from him.”

A case of the pot calling the kettle black? ;)

.. if only it was just his tongue ..

Conflict of interests ?
Wayne Brown & Shane Jones Whangarei boys
Anybody considered the rail freight & trucking required if Whangarei not Auckland was the main port ? Obviously roads would be wrecked on the run from Whangarei to Auckland as well as the old
Auckland harbour bridge which can’t take fully laden trucks on its clipons outer lanes anyway plus extra truck congestion on motorway northern & north western etc
How does freighting from Whangarei to Auckland where most of the consumers are fit with the governments Climate Change & CO2 Emissions policies exactly ?
If Auckland loses its port to Whangarei or Tauranga
it will mean rates increases for property owners for certain in the medium term . Do not forget Auckland City is heavily in debt

At 7:30 am I can get half way to Whangarei by the time I can get to the Port from my home in North Shore. If they move to Whangarei they will need massive expenditure on the railway. Really massive. It might give a minor return on investment by making Kaipara commuter access.
The bridge is near the end of its life whatever they do - replacing it is inevitable but closing PoA may speed it up.

Just how the freight trains mix it with the commuter trains every 10 mins on the western line will be interesting !

If you define peak period as 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6:30pm and schedule freight outside that time.

Like they do on the Wairarapa line although freight on this line is mainly logging with surplus being sent on road.

Not sure why you are focusing on the roads so much as the plan has always been about getting freight onto trains resulting in less trucks on the roads and improved safety. Kiwi Rail are keen and started Geotechnical investigation work for the rail link to Northport and Marsden Point in December. I believe they have retained the spur for years so great to see someone with forward thinking from back then. I would love, as a person who grew up on the waterfront to see the Port gone except for Cruise ships. Mind they are getting so huge, they may not be able to come in either in the future

How about getting a shipyard to build ~3km of submersible/immersed tube tunnel to connect out into the gulf to the huge and largely uninhabited Chamberlains Island. It has deep water out of sight of Auckland on the far side of it. Such tunnels only cost a few $100 million per km. Heck only needs to be a single lane tunnel (just run traffic in different directions at 5 min intervals, train line on same lane when needed). Sell port of Auckland for ~$5billion land value to pay for it.

this is a too hard decision that will never be made.
step one where to move it too?, this argument will go on the years and it will be based on money

If it moved to North Port even just for cars the 4 lane Motorway would need to be built first to Whangerei. The existing rail link ( that would need an expensive extension to the port ) is not direct, it goes via the West coast, is only 1 track and has significant tunnels that would cost billions to up grade to a 2 track railway.

Is there some good reason why this is always framed as an either/or decision? Expensive infrastructure like container handling should be retained and used. If more capacity is wanted that can be set up elsewhere at a fraction of the cost of relocating everything.
One low-cost option for relocation would be vehicle shipping which doesn’t need much more than parking space and a rail-spur. That would make space in CBD for more cruise ships.

but where you move the car carriers too?
manukau you have the bar and would need dredging
up north and how do you move them all back to where needed, we don't have the rail to double decker them
you could go firth of thames (kiaua) but again you need a whole new wharf which you could stretch out into deeper water, then you would need to upgrade the road to the state highway
every where you go will be a cost and will you get a return on the capital outlay

Just make Tauranga the main port which is already a deep water port and step up the rail links to AKL. Always amazes me how we are forced to look out over used cars littering AKL prime waterfront as if the CBD wasn’t enough of an eyesore already. Look at how SYD does it.

have you been through the kaimai tunnel, its not ventilated so trains have to travel at intervals for clean air so you don't kill the driver and this is what is the chock point for trains to and from tauranga
also the track from Hamilton to Tauranga is single lane with only a couple of passing lanes so again you would need to double track if you want to try to increase capacity

Put some fans in. Never know, they may be on sale at Briscoes.

they have big fans at either end, but kiwirail run diesels through their so it takes a period for it to flush the fumes through.
maybe they could outfit the drivers with scuba tanks to get more trains through

Capacity at Tauranga is not enough. All projections for the future show we will need Auckland+Tauranga+... Getting rail up to Northport would be expensive but, if it included commuter options all the way up the north shore, might be worth the (vast) investment. Imagine being able to take the train from Puhoi to the city.

Not a bad option. How about sell ports of Auckland (146Ha land @$3.5-5k/m² = $5-7billion) and use proceeds to pay for 4-laning Auckland-Tauranga and Auckland-Whangerei. 2 ports for the price of 1 and a big economic boost for Northland too.

PS by the time any of these options come to pass in 10+ years cars will be able to self deliver themselves autonomously in the middle of the night into Auckland from Tauranga or Northport. No car carriers required. Probably a lot of other freight will go the same way - Autonomous trucks getting the work done in the wee hours of the night.

Yeah, but your numbers are wrong.

POAL has 77 hectares, and of that only half will be available for development. The rest is gobbled up by roads, parks and other public spaces / buildings (an opera house anyone?). The cost of remediation will be significant, some of the reclamation dates back to when they used to just chuck any old rubbish in, plus parts of the existing port used to be used for oil storage etc. Then there's the height restrictions. The land price you use is no doubt based on what it's worth over the road where you can build 50 storey buildings. Can you see 50 storey buildings being put up on old port land? No, of course not. It'll be 10 storey max, just like the Wynyard Quarter. And finally, do you really think Council will sell the land? Naa. It'll be leasehold, again, just like WQ. All of which means you'll get sweet FA for the port land, and nowhere near enough to pay for a new port, rail, road etc.

On top of all of this, sea level rise. You really want to put expensive buildings on port land? If it's a port, you can build the pavement height up easily enough. Good luck with that for high-rise etc. Na, the port land as goldmine is just fools gold.

Oh, and if the autonomous cars thing comes to pass, plus the shared economy reducing the need for cars, there'll be space available at the existing port anyway. If you build a big new port, you've just spent a bunch of money for something that will sit there empty. Not smart.

I really don't care what it costs,just get on with transferring business from Auckland to Northport. I started buying shares in MMH over 5 years ago,rather than simply adding to my POT holding.It has been an excellent investment and it could even better if Winston fulfills all his promises. Some business should also come to Tauranga,to make my POT holding even more profitable.
Not only will I profit mightily,but Auckland will get its waterfront back,allowing them to build even more leaky apartment blocks.In time,this will create lots of remediation work,thus adding to our GDP.Everyone wins-well,almost everyone but for a few unhappy apartment owners.

"..if Winston fulfills all his promises" LOL. Not to burst you bubble, but Santa and the Toothfairy aren't real either.


I’m shocked. Are you really telling me that Winston might not be entirely reliable? Surely not. And you’re quite wrong about Santa,my letters to him are always answered.

Maersk lost $1 billion on container ships around 2002 and Mr Maersk called all his staff and said we need to fix this problem. Most container ships were about 5000 containers with a crew of 25 to 28. What the staff came up with was to build a ship 398 metres long 59 metres wide and fitted with new design engines. World shipping watched closely with interest. Emma Maersk saild from Japan for London loaded with 13,000 containers of Christmas fare. It had a crew of just 13. It was a huge success and from that day shipyards were building ships bigger still. Now the latest I note carries 21,400 containers. These ships have a draught of 16 metres and need a depth of 20 metres. Only one container terminal of the 16 around London dredged to this depth and got all the business. One vessel in this class could take all Kiwi cargo to Europe China etc taking over the job of three smaller ships now. Auckland is fortunate as right on our back door (so to speak) is Firth of Thames with a depth of 30 metres and close to Orere Point is still 17 metres so only 3 metres along the berth would need dredging. A huge saving in dredging costs.
Under the Orere Plan: There would be new business for Banks Export Dept. Exporter has freight bill paid strasight away. Transport Company paid on the day of the job. No invoicing at month's end. No paper work for driver. Fast turn-around time 6 - 10 minutes. Less chance of bad debts slow payers etc. Port Company paid on day container received. Shipping company paid when ship arrives Big ships carry load of three now calling.
Much better for the environment with better engines and not smoking all the way to Europe as they do now.
Bird mudflats not disturbed.
Deep water close to city very little dredging required
Freight costs fo Auckland cargo cheaper not having to be railed to Tauranga. Much of this plan could be applied throughout NZ.