Port of Tauranga handles near-record import surges but red tape is slowing progress with expansion plans

As New Zealand’s largest port, Port of Tauranga is  playing a vital  role in keeping cargo moving throughout the global disruption and local upheavals caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  And  it  has  ambitious  plans, which  would  strengthen   its  key  place  in  NZ’s  transport  system.

Fortunately  for our export industries,  the  port  overcame the  effects  of  the pandemic’s impact on the international supply chain which  included extensive shipping delays, service cancellations, scarcity of supply and volume volatility.  This has led to congestion in the container terminal and at its MetroPort facility in Auckland.

The situation was at times exacerbated at times by operational challenges at Ports of Auckland, particularly in the first half of the financial year.

While  there  were 106 fewer container vessel visits between September 2020 and June 2021, the average cargo exchange per container vessel increased 21.7% due to the reduced vessel frequency and shippers maximising available capacity. Continue reading “Port of Tauranga handles near-record import surges but red tape is slowing progress with expansion plans”

POAL – Aucklanders (not the government) should decide its future

Barrie Saunders writes…

One of the 1984-90 Lange-Douglas government’s most successful reforms is now at serious risk, because of a self-serving political campaign by NZ First, aided and abetted by others driving their own agendas.

In 1988 the Port Companies Act came into operation, which commercialised New Zealand’s ports and required them to operate as a “successful business”.   At the same time the failed New Zealand Ports Authority was disbanded and harbour regulatory functions were left with local government.

The reforms worked extraordinarily well as the port companies became very efficient and cost-effective.  Some including the ports of Auckland, Tauranga, Timaru, Napier, Lyttelton and Bluff, ended up at various stages with private shareholdings, but the local authorities typically held the majority of shares, and some partially privatised were later bought back.  Undoubtedly the private shareholding improved the performance of port companies. Continue reading “POAL – Aucklanders (not the government) should decide its future”

POAL move to Northport – “pork on steroids”?


(Barrie was chair of the 13-member Port CEO Group from 2002 to 2015)

No one wins a prize for guessing the Wayne Brown-led second interim working group report would produce anything other than more arguments to close down all of Ports of Auckland’s (POAL) freight operations and move it to Northport, adjacent to the Marsden Point refinery.  Cruise vessels would remain in Auckland.

A study was agreed between NZ First and the Labour Party as part of the coalition agreement.  NZ First proposed in 2017 the cars be moved to Northport by the end of 2019, and the rest of the freight by 2027.

This is a politically driven proposition, not one arising from a neutral study required to properly assess all the options.  A final report is expected before Christmas and at some point the Labour Party will have to determine its view.

The essence of the Brown team’s proposal is:

  • Upgrading the rail line from Auckland north to take high cube containers and a lot more rail traffic;
  • Adding a spur rail line to Northport at Marsden Point;
  • Establishing a new inland road/rail port in north-west Auckland;
  • Building a four-lane highway from Auckland to Whangarei; and,
  • A major expansion of Northport to accommodate the extra containers, cars and other freight.

The cost: maybe $10 billion, but it’s not clear what’s included in this number. Continue reading “POAL move to Northport – “pork on steroids”?”