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22nd November 2017

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Ports of Auckland

Ports masterplan: The future for Auckland’s downtown wharves

2 Nov, 2017 5:00am

The days of views to the Waitemata Harbour being spoiled by rows of cars on the downtown wharves could be over under a new masterplan from Ports of Auckland.

The port company has today unwrapped a draft 30-year masterplan for the 77ha of land it owns on the city’s doorstep, which includes a five-storey parking building topped with a 1ha waterfront park accessible to the public.

The carpark and park could be connected to a five-storey hotel on Quay St at the city end of the port.

The draft masterplan also includes plans for a 13m piled concrete extension at the end of Bledisloe Wharf, which the company says is essential for a new berth and the success of the other wharf projects.

 It says the extension of 1.25ha is less than 1.275ha of space it will lose by removing Marsden Wharf and cutting back a wharf on the eastern side of Bledisloe.

The extension is bound to draw attention from critics of further expansion into the harbour for port use, but is in line with the recommendations of Auckland Council’s Port Future Study last year and smaller than previous expansion plans.

Since the Herald started campaigning against a 250m expansion into the harbour in 2012, the port company has gradually shrunk back its plans. Two months ago, Ports of Auckland chairwoman Liz Coutts said it was no longer acceptable to reclaim more land.

“We are listening. That’s the new us. We are serious about the way we behave and the way we change,” ports chief executive Tony Gibson told the Herald.

Last night, Mayor Phil Goff said he did not support further extension of the port into the harbour.

“This is a proposal only and needs to be subject to public discussion. Ultimately it will go through a consent process where public can make submissions,” Goff said.

Gibson said the company accepted its owner, Auckland Council, was undertaking a project to relocate the port but finding the best location, getting consent, securing funding and building would take decades.

“In the meantime, we need to ensure that we can continue to deliver freight for our import and export customers, and to Aucklanders.

“In response we’ve developed a draft 30-year masterplan that we think balances Auckland’s economic, social and environmental needs…it creates space for freight and gives Auckland Council the time it needs to make a sound decision on where, when and how to move the port,” Gibson said.

The masterplan addresses the day-to-day port business, including automation of the Fergusson container terminal at the Tamaki Drive end of the port, to provide additional capacity to serve a population of five million people.

A 10ha reclamation of Fergusson Wharf, approved in 1998, will be completed by 2020.

Ports of Auckland masterplan proposed engineering workshop and head office picture supplied by Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland masterplan proposed engineering workshop and head office picture supplied by Ports of Auckland

An architecturally designed new head office building and engineering workshop will be built facing the intersection of The Strand and Quay St/Tamaki Drive to improve aesthetics and provide a legacy if the port is moved.

To address significant capacity issues on the general cargo wharves at the city end of the port, the company plans to build a five-storey carpark to hide away the 30,000 cars a month that come across the wharves. It could be built within five years.

The carpark will free up space on nearby Captain Cook Wharf, which the council has been eyeing as the city’s main cruise ship terminal. It will require an extension at a cost of $50m to $100m.

Gibson said by removing Marsden Wharf, one of several finger wharves at the city end, and part of Bledisloe Wharf, known as B1, will create nearly 1km of new general cargo berth space.

Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland

He said the company wanted Aucklanders to be proud of their port and the projects outlined in the draft masterplan, which could be built over the next five to 10 years.

“We’ve tried to develop a plan that fairly reflects the feedback we’ve received and also balances sometimes divergent wants and needs,” Gibson said.

Details of the draft masterplan can be found at: www.masterplan.poal.co.nz

Brian Gaynor: Winston Peters’ port plan fails to make grade

One of the more intriguing aspects of the general election campaign is New Zealand First’s policy “to move all container operations from Ports of Auckland to Northport by the end of 2027”.

According to NZ First leader Winston Peters, “the days of the Ports of Auckland as a container port and as a car yard are numbered”.

He went on to say that “New Zealand First will bring forward legislation to move all operations from Auckland to Northport. This will start with vehicles on Captain Cook Wharf ahead of the America’s Cup. Aucklanders want their harbour back while Northlanders want the jobs and opportunities that would come from Northport’s transformation”.

Peters added that this policy “is a cast iron commitment from New Zealand First but it needs New Zealand First to be in a pivotal position to demand it”.

Not surprisingly, Peters hasn’t released any details on the costs of moving Ports of Auckland to Northport.

There are three ports involved in this proposal, directly or indirectly: Ports of Auckland; Port of Tauranga, which is 220km from Auckland; and Northport, which is 144km north of the main Auckland port.


Ports of Auckland (POA) listed on the NZX in October 1993. This followed the sale of 39.8 million shares, or 20 per cent of the company, by the Waikato Regional Council at $1.60 a share. This gave Ports of Auckland a total sharemarket value of $318 million, with the Auckland Regional Services Trust retaining its 80 per cent stake.

In April 2005 Auckland Regional Holdings announced a takeover offer for POA at $8 a share, valuing the company at $848m. This compared with the pre-offer price of $6.44 a share and Grant Samuel’s value of between $7.69 and $8.55 a share.

The $8 a share bid was successful, POA delisted and is now 100 per cent owned by Auckland Council Investments.

POA has been a disappointment under 100 per cent Auckland Council ownership. In the 13 years since 2003-04, its revenue has increased by only 35 per cent, to $222.4m, and net profit after tax by 36 per cent to $60.3m.


Port of Tauranga (POT) was listed in 1992 after issuing 20 million new shares at $1.05 each and the Waikato Regional Council selling all its 12.6 million shares at the same price. After the initial public offering, the company had a sharemarket value of just $80m, based on its $1.05 issue price. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council had a 55.3 per cent holding.

POT, which now has a sharemarket value of $2,960m, has been one of the most successful listed companies over the past 25 years.

For example, since 2003-04 POT’s revenue has increased by 69 per cent to $255.9m, compared with POA’s 35 per cent rise, and POT’s net profit after tax has swelled 148 per cent to $83.4m, compared with POA’s more modest 36 per cent profit increase.


Northland Port also listed on the sharemarket in 1992, shortly after Port of Tauranga. This followed the sale of 10 million shares, representing 24.1 per cent of the company, for $1.25 a share. This gave Northland Port a sharemarket value of $52m at the $1.25 IPO price, just slightly below POT’s listing value.

The Northland company provided ship handling services to the NZ Refining jetty at Marsden Point and at Port Whangarei.

In 2002 the port activities at Marsden Point and Port Whangarei were transferred to Northport, a 50/50 joint venture between Northland Port and Port of Tauranga. NZX-listed Northland Port subsequently changed its name to Marsden Marine Holdings.

Marsden Marine is now an investment company with a 50 per cent stake in Northport, valued at $46.1m, and investment properties valued at $66.4m. These include freehold land, a marina and a commercial complex adjacent to Northport.

Its largest shareholders are Northland Regional Council, with a 53.6 per cent holding, and Ports of Auckland, with 19.9 per cent stake.

Marsden Marine has been a disappointing listed company, with a sharemarket value of only $215m. The company’s directors received $198,000 for the June 2016 year, a large figure for an investment company with few employees.

Chairman Sir John Goulter, who is also chair of the hugely disappointing Metro Performance Glass, received director’s fees of $54,000 for the June 2016 year and an additional $40,000 as chairman of Northport.

The opportunity to rationalise the port sector, and reduce commercial shipping activity at the Auckland port, was missed when Ports of Auckland withdrew from merger talks with Port of Tauranga in March 2007.

The Mount Manganui based port was clearly disappointed and chief executive Mark Cairns had this to say: “The economic and financial modelling demonstrates that the merger would generate significant financial benefits to be shared with customers and shareholders alike.

“The merger would also generate substantial public benefits: reducing CO2 emissions; facilitating better opportunities for coastal shipping; and making a start on the inevitable port rationalisation that needs to occur in New Zealand in the future with the advent of larger, faster container vessels.”

He went on to say: “In a country with a population of approximately 4 million people (similar to Sydney) New Zealand’s tax base simply cannot sustain the funding of high quality road and rail infrastructure connections to all 13 ports.”

The proposed merger between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga made far more sense than the Ports of Auckland/Northport scheme. There are several reasons for this, including:

• The cost of building an extensive road and rail network from Marsden Point to Auckland would be prohibitive and take decades to complete. Coastal shipping could be an alternative, but these ships would continue to use Ports of Auckland

• Northport is small and would need substantial expenditure on its facilities, particularly container handling facilities

• The move from Ports of Auckland to Northport would put huge pressure on the Marsden Point facility. For example, 673 container ships visited Auckland in the June 2017 year compared with only 36 berthing at Northport. In addition, Auckland had 181 vehicle carrier visits while Marsden Point had none in the same 12-month period. Thus, if Ports of Auckland moved its container ship and vehicle carrier operations to Northland, the Marsden Point facility would have to facilitate 854 of these vessel arrivals every year instead of 36 at present

• There is a mismatch between Northport and Ports of Auckland because the former is a bulk port and the latter is predominantly a container port. Northport had export log volumes of 2,808,000 tonnes for the June 2017 year, representing 77 per cent of its total bulk exports, while Ports of Auckland container volumes were 952,331 TEU (one TEU equals one standard 20-foot container).

The obvious solution to the Ports of Auckland issue is the partial privatisation of the company and a listing on the NZX. There are two main reasons for this.

Port of Tauranga and Auckland International Airport have been great performers as listed companies and are paying large dividends to their council shareholders. By contrast, Ports of Auckland has been a disappointment since the Auckland Council acquired its 100 per cent holding.

Under a sharemarket listing, there is a far better chance of a merger, or a joint venture agreement, between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga. This is because local body politicians, who are usually opposed to these commercial agreements, would have a limited influence.

An Auckland/Tauranga agreement could lead to a sharp reduction in commercial ship visits to Auckland and enable Auckland importers and exporters to switch their business to a well governed and well managed port facility at Mount Manganui.

A merger between Ports of Auckland and Northport doesn’t make sense from a commercial or cost point of view.

• Brian Gaynor is an executive director of Milford Asset Management.

Port boss vs Winston Peters: Carbon emission spike cited

Ports of Auckland’s chief says Winston Peters’ plans to shift the business to Northland would cause a massive carbon emission spike, indicating nearly 300,000 motor vehicles now imported annually would have to be trucked south where most are sold.

Tony Gibson said that the NZ First leader’s plan announced today would have a negative environmental impact.

The port’s annual report out today showed 297,383 car and light commercial vehicles arrived at the port in the June 30 year, up 19 per cent. That means 5718 vehicles a week in the June year, or 814/day.

Gibson said transporting cars from Northport near Marsden Pt would see carbon emissions spiral.

“If cars went to Northport, there will be 21,500 more tonnes of carbon emissions which is more than our total carbon emissions now at the Ports of Auckland,” Gibson said, citing an environmental study and the port’s big drive to cut its carbon emissions.

“What do you think happens to the cars when they arrive at Northport? They would have to be put on trucks to go to Auckland,” Gibson said.

He was reacting to Peters’ “cast-iron commitment” to move container operations from the port if his party was in a position of influence after the election. Peters wants the port moved by 2027, opening up 77ha of prime waterfront land for public use and the development of a new cruise ship terminal. Peters has long campaigned for a rail link to Northport – vehicles might not be moved on road but rail.

His plan would stop vehicle deliveries by the end of 2019 and free up Captain Cook Wharf ahead of the America’s Cup.

Gibson also reiterated the port’s already-announced plans to build a parking building on Bledisloe Wharf, saying more details would be out around mid-October when a new study was released.

“That will have all the details but it will be between 1500 and 2000 [carparks]. It will be about four to five levels,” Gibson said, having a relatively compact footprint to minimise land use.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the waterfront infrastructure.”

Govt reveals investment to speed Auckland transport (scroll to the bottom for Cubic’s view)

The government has made an election pledge to inject billions of dollars more into Auckland’s road and rail network.

Auckland motorway

The money will help close any funding gap in the $27 billion of Auckland transport projects, the government says. Photo: 123RF

Transport Minister Simon Bridges has confirmed it is working with Auckland Council on providing more money to speed up transport projects in the region.

Projects being considered are the Mill Road arterial road in south Auckland, the North-Western Busway, the AMETI highway, busway and cycleway project in south-east Auckland, extending electrification of rail from Papakura to Pukekohe, and a third main rail line, from Wiri to Westfield.

No caption

Transport Minister Simon Bridges Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

In a statement, Mr Bridges said the projects would help close any funding gap, of up to $7 billion, in the $27bn of planned investment in Auckland transport projects over the next decade.

The projects would be “substantially” completed over the next decade, the minister said.

The announcement of more investment comes as a report, commissioned by the Employers and Manufacturers Association, said traffic congestion in Auckland could be costing nearly $2bn a year and was having a big impact on the city’s productivity.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed confirmation of the government’s package, saying it had been worked on for several months.

Mr Goff said it would accelerate about $3bn worth of projects in the next decade, mainly the $800 million North-Western Busway and the approximately $600m AMETI highway and busway.

The mayor said electrification of the rail line between Papakura and Pukekohe would also happen much sooner than the previously expected start date of 2025.

Mr Goff said the additional third freight line on the southern corridor, and the Mill Road route were also major steps forward.


Cubic’s View

This announcement and the recent Labour policy announcement are ok, but the plan for rail to the airport needs to be upgraded to heavy rail.  Same with the plan for rail to the north shore.  Light rail (Trams) are not adequate and do not connect to the heavy rail network.

There should also be some planning for the future relocation of Ports of Auckland (to the Firth of Thames?) close to South Auckland and to secure the road and rail corridors that will be required.

The lack of forward planning, and half-arsed solutions have always plagued Auckland.  If it’s supposed to be a world class city it’s time to properly invest in the right infrastructure – especially while interest rates are so low.

Ports of Auckland: Best Seaport in Oceania 2017

Ports of Auckland has beaten out competitors from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to be crowned Best Seaport in Oceania for the second year running.

The port was voted into the finals by customers and industry peers at the Asia Cargo News’ Asian Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain (AFLAS) Awards; the only New Zealand port to be selected as a finalist amongst three Australian ports (Port of Melbourne, Port of Brisbane and Sydney Ports).

“I am so proud to accept the award as the best port in our region on behalf of our team. It is a fantastic achievement for Ports of Auckland and testament to the hard-working people that keep our port running 24/7. We have a world-class group of people working here, doing their best for our customers and Aucklanders” said Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Tony Gibson.

The awards recognise leading air and shipping lines, air and sea ports, logistics providers and other industry professionals. Ports of Auckland was the first recipient of the ‘Best Seaport in Oceania’ award when the category was introduced in 2016, and the only recipient in this category to date.

This year, thousands of Asia Cargo News readers cast votes across award categories such as Best SeaportBest Container Terminal and Best AirportAsia Cargo Newsreported votes in the thousands – a record number of votes were submitted this year.

Auckland port’s big crane move

Partial automation of Ports of Auckland’s Fergusson Container Terminal was announced earlier this year and will be a game-changer for the port, ensuring extra terminal capacity without reclamation, says CEO Tony Gibson.

The technology will allow the port to handle up to 1.7 million TEU each year (one TEU is the equivalent of a 20ft container), enough to support an Auckland population of around 2.7 million. Future technology will give the port additional capacity to serve a regional population of 5 million – more than three times the current population.

Fergusson Container Terminal has five cranes, and to ready the terminal for bigger ships and automation, the cranes had to be rearranged. The two older, smaller cranes were lifted off their rails in May so the three newer, larger cranes could be positioned at the north end of the terminal, where they will be able to work bigger ships. This massive job was done in between customers at the busy terminal.

Mr Gibson has paid tribute to the company’s highly skilled engineering team who worked closely with crane manufacturing company ZPMC to carry out the project. “We run a very busy terminal, so getting this job done quickly and with minimum disruption to shipping was essential. It’s a bit like doing knee surgery at half-time and then getting your player back on the field for the second half,” he says.

The relocation means that the cranes are now positioned well to work on the bigger ships calling at Auckland’s port. This means a more efficient container terminal and a port that can cater to Auckland’s growing freight demand.

“More people in Auckland means more imports and more shipping. This work is one part of our investment in the automation of our container terminal which will meet that growing demand,” says Mr Gibson. “This phase of automation gives us enough capacity to handle the freight for an extra million people in Auckland – that’s 30 to 40 years of capacity.”

To watch a video of the crane relocation, click here