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20th October 2018

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Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland net profit rises 27 per cent

Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson. Photo / File
Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson. Photo / File

Ports of Auckland reported a 27 per cent lift in net profit, boosted by some one-off gains and a full year of revenue from its Nexus Logistics and Conlinxx units.

Reported net profit for the year to June 30 was $76.8 million, up from $60.3m the year before. But that included $17.6m for items related to asset valuation changes and impairments, compared to $5.3m in the 2017 year.

Ports of Auckland will pay a dividend of $51.1m to the Auckland Council, slightly down from $51.3m the year before.

Group revenue was $243.2m, up $20.8m. Freight volumes increased and the port benefited from buying out its joint venture partner in Nexus Logistics in May 2017. That brought Conlinxx, which manages Ports of Auckland’s Wiri inland port, back under its control.

The country’s largest port said that container volumes were up 2.2 per cent to the equivalent of 973,722 twenty-foot units, while breakbulk and bulk volumes were up 4.8 per cent to 6.77 million tonnes. The container terminal team delivered an average crane rate of 35.63 moves an hour this year, nearly one move per hour more than in the previous year.

The company said significant progress has been made on the automation of its container terminal, due to go live in the second half of the 2019 calendar year.

It has also completed earth works at the Waikato Freight Hub and started construction of the first freight handling facility for Open Country Dairy.

Road and rail connections will be built during the next 12 months and the hub will open for business by mid-2019, it said.

As a result, capital expenditure was $130.5m, versus $88.2m in the year to June 2016.

“We’re making a significant investment in our people, technology and infrastructure to establish a platform for sustainable future returns, with

Looking ahead, chair Liz Coutts said the risks to the trading environment are similar to last year.

Container shipping lines continue to consolidate, with the top 10 lines globally now accounting for 80 per cent of all container traffic.

In New Zealand, the largest line has captured around 50 per cent of the market and the number of container lines calling at Ports of Auckland is down to eight as a result of mergers and acquisitions.

“We face relentless pressure to increase efficiency and cut costs,” she said.

Coutts said the company is also mindful of the potential threat to the global economy from the rise of protectionism and a possible trade war.

Any global economic slowdown that resulted would probably affect New Zealand and reduce global shipping volumes.

However, “the company is in a good position to weather such an event,” she said.

Construction begins on new Hamilton freight transport hub


Construction has started on a major new freight transport hub in Horotiu, north of Hamilton.

Open Country Dairy, New Zealand’s second largest exporter of whole milk power, will be the first tenant at the port and their facility will be up and running by early 2019.

51 Horotiu Road may look like one big paddock right now, but it is set to be an inland port in the Waikato owned by the Ports of Auckland.

Reinhold Goeschl, general manager of supply chain, estimates in five years there will be 300 people working within the hub.

Open Country Dairy (OCD) was the first to sign up. They’ll use one of the warehouses, while the others are yet to be snapped up.

Containers will arrive at the hub full of imported goods to be distributed around the region.

Once emptied, OCD will instantly refill those containers with exports like milk powder to be sent straight back.

Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson says it’s taking a cost out of the supply chain.

“By using rail, we’re making it a very sustainable option.”

The inland port is right in the heart of what’s known as the golden triangle, and with the expressway and railways both nearby, moving freight to the three points of that triangle – Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga – becomes very easy.

But they’ve got some competition just down the road. The Ruakura Inland Port is also under development.

Coming in at just 33 hectares, it has nothing on the OCD’s 480 hectares. Mr Gibson has dismissed the idea of competition.

“Given the migration of business and distribution centres from Auckland, there are significant opportunities for us both.”

Both ports are intended to boost jobs, infrastructure and business in the area.

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says the more the merrier.

“We haven’t even tried to go out and sell ourselves yet, it’s just coming to us by the truckload.”


High-rise sized cranes from China welcomed at Ports of Auckland with a waiata

Auckland’s port has just become home to the largest cranes in Australasia.

Three massive container-lifting cranes, each one larger than central Auckland’s HSBC building, completed the final leg of their month long journey from Shanghai, China, to Auckland on Friday morning.

The special delivery was the culmination of 20 years worth of preparation, and a $60 million investment.

The cranes, which stood 82.3 metres tall and weighed 2100 tonnes each, docked at Ports of Auckland in Mechanics Bay after 9am.

From there they will be offloaded onto the Ferguson North Wharf using specially designed rail tracks.

Three gigantic cranes arrived in the Auckland harbour on Friday morning.

Ports of Auckland boss Tony Gibson said they were the most technically advanced cranes on the market.

“They lift four containers at once and they can lift containers out of the hull of a ship at different heights – which is a first in the world”

He said the cranes’ capacity would greatly increase of the port’s ability to load and unload ships.

The cranes stand 82 metres tall and weigh 2100 tonnes - each one larger than central Auckland's HSBC building.
The cranes stand 82 metres tall and weigh 2100 tonnes – each one larger than central Auckland’s HSBC building.

“They weigh a massive 2100 tonnes each – about 1000 tonnes heavier than our existing cranes.”

The cranes were manufactured by Chinese multinational engineering company ZPMC, especially for Auckland’s port.

They could stack containers on ships 9 high. New Zealand’s current largest cranes can stack containers only 7 high.

The special delivery was the culmination of 20 years worth of preparation, and a $60 million investment.
The special delivery was the culmination of 20 years worth of preparation, and a $60 million investment.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said with such precious cargo, it was lucky the ship had not passed through a typhoon.

“This means that we have the most technologically advanced cranes and we can cope with the largest ship coming to our port.”

He said the upgrade was good for Ports of Auckland, and therefore a “bonus” for the ratepayers.

Ports of Auckland workers, standing on the decks of the old cranes, lined up for an unobstructed view of the new Chinese imports.
Ports of Auckland workers, standing on the decks of the old cranes, lined up for an unobstructed view of the new Chinese imports.

“Ports of Auckland is of course owned by Auckland council, so its dividends feed directly into the ratepayers.”

Port’s spokesman Matt Ball said the cranes were needed to keep up with Auckland’s growth.

“More people in the city means more freight. The ships that bring our goods from overseas are getting bigger, so we need to make sure we can handle them.

The new cranes will work at double the capacity of the current ones.
The new cranes will work at double the capacity of the current ones.

“With these new cranes, and the new deep water berth they will sit on, we’ll be able to handle the biggest ships coming to New Zealand.”


– 82.3m tall, current cranes are 69.2m.

– 2100 tonnes, current cranes are 1300 tonnes.

– Able to lift four containers at once, current cranes can lift two.

– Able to be remotely operated – a New Zealand first.

– Able to lift containers stacked at different heights.

– Can reach 21 containers across, current cranes can reach 19 across.


Reach-stacker operator injured in fire at Ports of Auckland

NZ Herald 2/10/18

A machinery operator has been treated and released from hospital with burns after a large fire broke out at the Ports of Auckland.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen billowing across the city, including the North Shore, from the blaze this morning.

The blaze had broken out near railway lines alongside Quay St in a reach stacker, a vehicle used to lift and move cargo containers, a Fire Emergency New Zealand spokesman said.
Video footage captured the blaze.Video footage captured the blaze.

The operator suffered burns and was taken to hospital.

Ports spokesman Matt Ball said at 1pm the male driver of the stacker had been treated for minor burns to a hand and released from hospital.

Four fire trucks attended the fire.

The blaze was limited to the one piece of machinery, Ball said.

Eyewitness Li Li said he and his family saw the inferno from across the road.

“At the time it was very dangerous,” Li said.

“The fire got bigger and bigger.”

Within about 10 minutes firefighters arrived, Li said.

“They were very brave.”

The reach stacker is still holding on to one of the nearby containers. At least a dozen firefighters are still at the scene on the rail grid alongside Quay St.

Firefighters were hosing down the inside of the container still attached to the charred reach stacker at 11am.

The cab of the loader usually has glass protecting the driver but it appears to have been blown out in the blaze, nearby workers said.

The reach stacker is still attached to a container. Photo / Brett PhibbsThe reach stacker still attached to a container. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Some reported hearing a “loud bang” as the fire broke out.

Because there was diesel involved, the fire created large clouds of black smoke, the spokesman said. The fire has now been brought under control.

Witness Sarah Bowman said she saw a thick plume of smoke rising from the Ports of Auckland about 20 minutes ago from her third-floor office on St George’s Bay Rd.

A video sent to the Herald shows a vehicle fully ablaze near several containers at the port as firefighters work to bring the fire under control.

Auckland wharfies plead for action on safety

View from the harbour. End of the winter 2016.
Maria Slade for The Spinoff

Following the death of a young wharfie there are claims Ports of Auckland is encouraging unsafe practices by paying bonuses for moving cargo faster.

Last month 23-year-old wharfie and father Laboom Dyer suffered fatal injuries when the straddle carrier he was driving tipped over at the Ports of Auckland. The tragedy has prompted a member of another watersider’s family to speak out about the safety culture at the port.

The person, who does not wish to be identified, says the wharfie community feels changes need to be made to prioritise safety over productivity.

In an open letter to the port’s board and management (published below), they identify the ‘box move’ bonus system which rewards workers with a financial bonus for moving a higher number of containers in a month.

Wharfies can earn up to an extra $600 a month under this system, the person claims.

“A few of the old boys say as soon as that was brought in they noticed such a change in drivers. It really had people pushing boundaries… to get that extra money,” the person told The Spinoff.

However Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) says its commitment to safety is “genuine and deep”.

“Everyone at Ports of Auckland, including the board and management, have been deeply affected by this accident. We mourn the loss of one of our own,” it said in a statement. “We want to know more than anyone why this accident happened, so we can work to prevent anything like it happening again.”

Around 60 percent of POAL’s wharfies are members of the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ). Union secretary Russell Mayn says the box move bonus is port policy and not part of any workplace agreement. “The Maritime Union does not support a bonus that encourages productivity by speed,” he says.

POAL is the only New Zealand port operating such a system, and also allows the straddle carriers – the freight vehicles used to move containers – to be driven faster than anywhere else in the country, he claims. Top speed at Auckland is 25kms an hour, compared with between 20-23kms at other ports, he says.

Following the death of Laboom Dyer the union asked POAL to reduce the maximum speed to 22kms and put the box move bonus on hold but was declined, Mayn says.

The port company said it declined the request because there was no evidence that these factors contributed to the accident.  “All factors will be included in the investigation,” it said.

Ports of Auckland is carrying out its own investigation into last month’s fatal accident and is assisting the independent investigation by WorkSafe New Zealand.

Relations between POAL and MUNZ may not be as acrimonious as they were during the great port dispute of the early 2000s, but they remain tense to say the least.

The collective agreement finally hammered out following that protracted and bitter industrial battle has expired, and port and union are once again in facilitation trying to find common ground.

In the past year alone two disputes have ended up at the Employment Relations Authority – one over last-minute changes to shift times, and a second over breaches to rules preventing workers from being rostered on for more than 60 hours in a seven-day period. In both cases the authority found largely in the union’s favour.

The union is sensitive to publicity: It would not agree to an interview with The Spinoff without several members of its executive and its lawyer being present.

At Ports of Auckland there is a poor culture of safety and trying to maximise profit at the expense of workers, Mayn claims. “Before the last collective agreement I don’t believe there was a culture like that.”

The union’s main concerns in the current collective negotiations are around hours of work and fatigue risk management, he says.

“Really our main concern is there’s been three deaths [in our industry] in less than 18 months. We believe there should be an industry code of practice that is regulated.”

The full text of the open letter and Ports of Auckland’s response is below.

An open letter to the directors and management of Ports of Auckland, Aotearoa

Last week the unimaginable happened. A critical accident involving one of our young men that ended with us laying a brother to rest.

Following the accident that stripped a beautiful young lad from the prosperous life he was bound to live, what changes as a company have you made to ensure the safety of our whānau inside your million-dollar gates?

Your workplace is a high risk working environment. The men and women employed by you face such imminent risks as soon as they swipe into your front gates. Those men and women are our partners, our children, our siblings and our whānau. They’re more than just employees there to get a job done.

As someone whose life could have been affected in the same way this young man’s family has been now, I ask you, ‘what you are doing to prevent this from ever happening again?’

Those inside the wharfie lifestyle know far too well the pressures that can be placed on your workers. It is not only expected for them to do the long hours of their job efficiently and effectively, but to get that job done as fast as possible.

But will you rebut by saying that is simply not true? Well then why did you as management implement a ‘box move’ bonus system? This system rewards the drivers of your company with a financial bonus for the greatest amount of container box moves they are able to make within a month.

Does that not seem to you like you are creating a culture that places productivity above the personal health and safety of your workers and their peers?

I know many of those affected by this devastating accident just want to see appropriate culture changes made and better health and safety protocols implemented for the safety of our whānau.

For all those whose lives this has affected, it is something we will remember for a lifetime – but what happens in 10 years when a new bunch of young men and women think of this as nothing but a story?

I plead with you to take action. Do some reflecting on the state this company is in and make changes that will ensure this NEVER happens again.

Your company is supposedly based on ‘family values’ – if that is the case then now is your time to show it.

We should have never had to lay our brother and a beautiful young father to rest last week. Rest in love Boom – a life taken far too soon.


A devastated member of the wharfies’ greater community.

Response from Ports of Auckland

“We completely understand the feelings expressed in this letter. Everyone at Ports of Auckland, including the board and management, have been deeply affected by this accident. We mourn the loss of one of our own and our condolences continue to be offered to his family, all who loved him, worked with him, socialised with him and everyone his life touched.

“Our commitment to safety is genuine and deep. We want to know more than anyone why this accident happened, so we can work to prevent anything like it happening again. We are carrying out our own investigation and we are assisting the independent investigation by WorkSafe New Zealand.

“While these investigations are underway we can’t comment on what we think might be the cause.”

Straddle carrier accident at Ports of Auckland

A large container-lifting straddle crane tipped over about 3.45am on the Fergusson Wharf at Mechanics Bay.

The injured driver was taken to Auckland Hospital in a critical condition, where 1 NEWS understands he is gravely ill.

The Noelle container straddle carriers in use at Ports of Auckland are more than 12m tall, weigh about 60 tons and can carry about 60 tons of weight.

Ports of Auckland acting CEO Wayne Thompson said in a statement that “at this stage the cause of the incident is not known.

A webcam image of the Ferguson Wharf at Ports of Auckland - straddle cranes are visible at the bottom left.

“Our primary concern is for the welfare of our colleague and we are doing everything we can to look after him and his whānau, friends and colleagues.”

The terminal is closed while an investigation is carried out by Worksafe, and Ports of Auckland says it will also investigate.

The Maritime Union of New Zealand has confirmed the man is a member, but declined to comment further.

Not enough demand to move Ports of Auckland to Northport

Aug. 24 (BusinessDesk)


Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns welcomes the government’s review of the upper North Island logistic and freight systems but says there isn’t enough demand to justify moving Ports of Auckland to Northport.

He also sounded a warning about proposed legislative changes to employment law.

Earlier this month, the government announced a five-member working group would conduct a review to ensure New Zealand’s supply chain is fit for purpose in the longer-term and indicated the review will include a feasibility study to explore moving the location of the Ports of Auckland, with “serious consideration” to be given to Northport.

Cairns told BusinessDesk that Port of Tauranga welcomes the “greater focus” on the issue and noted “there is an issue of capital discipline in the port sector,” with some ports getting a return on equity as low as 2 percent.

In June the auditor general said a variety of accounting treatments used by the country’s port companies makes it hard to compare and greater alignment would increase transparency. The port sector generated an average return on equity of 8.9 percent in the June 2017 year, however, returns by individual companies ranged between 2.3 percent and 26.1 percent, according to the auditor general.

Port of Tauranga seeks a minimum return of 8.5 percent after tax on major capital investments.

Regarding any changes to infrastructure – such as moving Ports of Auckland – “it has to be a rational decision for what the import and export demands are for the country and there just isn’t the trade demand in Northland,” Cairns said. He emphasised the need for the review to have a clear picture of import and export cargo demand across the nation.

Port of Tauranga has a 50 percent stake in Northport. The other 50 percent is held by Marsden Maritime Holdings, which counts Ports of Auckland as a 19.9 percent shareholder.

Regarding his overall confidence in the economy, Cairns said Port of Tauranga is keeping a close eye on any fallout from geopolitical tensions as it could potentially impact demand. Earlier the company said it operates in a complex environment with many factors outside its immediate control.

“It is very much a watching game. We are seeing effects on the dollar and that perversely helps exports but will have an impact on us from rising fuel prices,” he said. “We expect to have to deal with that in the coming year.”

Regarding the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, he said Port of Tauranga has no problem with collective bargaining or dealing with unions because “that is how we do business now.”

However, “the one aspect of the bill that we really have a problem with is the prospect of multi-employer collective agreements.” According to Cairns, if the legislation passes “you could conceivably have a number of unions approaching all ports in New Zealand to have a one agreement applying to all ports.”

He said that is a “real problem” given that a number of ports have had industrial action over the past year and under a multi-employer collective agreement every port would be shut when another port is having industrial action and “that would be a dreadful outcome for New Zealand.”

Port of Tauranga shares gained 3.4 percent to $4.92 after it said net profit rose to a record $94.3 million in the year to June 30 from $83.4 million a year earlier. Container volumes lifted 8.9 percent to nearly 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units, and overall cargo was up 10.2 percent to almost 24.5 million tonnes.

New KiwiRail chair pops up on upper North Island port study group

New KiwiRail chair pops up on upper North Island port study group. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

Newly appointed KiwiRail chair Greg Miller has also been appointed to a five-member working group charged with writing a new upper North Island supply chain strategy to guide the government’s desire to integrate port, rail and road transport infrastructure planning for the country’s economic and population epicentre.

The Ministry of Transport is close to announcing the five person group, to be chaired by former Northland mayor and health board chairman Wayne Brown, which will advise on a range of major transport and infrastructure issues, including “the current and future drivers of freight and logistics demand, including the impact of technological change; a potential future location or locations for Ports of Auckland, with serious consideration to be given to Northport”; and “priorities for other transport infrastructure, across road, rail and other modes and corridors such as coastal shipping”.

A Northport redevelopment could include refurbishment and extension of rail freight services into Northland and to NorthPort, and could ultimately include moving the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Devonport base to Whangarei.

Miller’s appointment to the KiwiRail chairmanship was announced yesterday after he resigned as chief executive at Toll Holdings on Monday and was heavily backed by State-Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters against initial objections from the Treasury and Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

The state-owned rail company is therefore changing both its chair and deputy, with both Trevor Janes and Paula Rebstock respectively stepping down, and its chief executive following the announcement last month by current KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy that he was taking up a senior role at Fletcher Building. That decision is understood to have been prompted by the planned appointment of Miller, who was CEO at KiwiRail’s predecessor, TranzRail, at the time it was sold back to the government by Toll in 2008.

Also on the working group is a former TranzRail group general manager, Noel Coom, in another sign of NZ First ministers Peters and Shane Jones’ determination to inject deeper knowledge of transport and logistics into government thinking on transport and infrastructure.

Susan Krumdieck, a professor in mechanical engineering at Canterbury University with long experience consulting for local government, government departments and community groups on transport, energy and future demand projects will also join the supply chain working group, along with Sarah Sinclair, a construction and infrastructure specialist for law firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts.

Its fifth member is Shane Vuletich, who has represented the Society for the Protection of Auckland Harbours lobby group in public debate on the future of the Auckland central city port, and is managing director of the Fresh Information Company, a strategy and forecasting analysis business, with tourism, major events and infrastructure planning experience,

“A system wide review of the Upper North Island supply chain is important because about 55 percent of New Zealand’s freight originates in or is destined for, the Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions,” the MoT’s explanation of the working group says, noting its recommendations could include “investment in the regions, and that the government might need to invest”.

No timetable has yet been set for outcomes from the study, the terms of reference for which were agreed last December.

Simon Wilson: Auckland’s port has to shift but where will it go?

The port has to move but there’s nowhere for it to go. That’s the problem facing Auckland as it inches towards a decision on the long-term future of its container port, the car imports, the cruise ships and the land they all currently take up on the edge of the sparkling Waitemata harbour.

It’s an unsolvable problem that has to be solved. We need a port and we need it to stay highly functional. And the land it sits on now is both publicly owned and the most valuable real estate in the country – we have the chance to create something very special there.

On Tuesday this week the Herald published a proposal by the architectural firm Archimedia for transforming the land. New beaches, a lagoon, a “volcano”, a Maori cultural centre, hospitality, apartments and offices all featured.

The proposal excited a lot of interest among our readers. The prospect of swimming and other calm-water recreation so close to the city has been especially popular. So have the big new parklands and the 8.2km of boardwalks and other public walkways/cycleways offered by the proposal.

We’ve also heard concerns. Some ask why commercial development will be allowed on the site. Others want to know where the port will go.

The value of commercial activity is clear enough. Apartments to house 8000 people will help provide population density, giving life to the precinct. The land would be made leasehold, not freehold, and commercial developments will pay for public amenities.

Will that mean a new wall of buildings to block the views? The answer depends entirely on the final designs and the consenting process. It doesn’t have to be a problem.

The question of where the port will go is far from settled. But whether it has to shift has already been resolved. It’s worth remembering how that happened.

In 2015 then-mayor Len Brown set up a Port Future Study with a Consensus Working Group. The Chamber of Commerce and the Employers and Manufacturers Association were involved, along with Generation Zero and Urban Auckland, Ngati Whatua and the Tamaki Alliance, property developers, resource management experts, shipping, freight and logistics companies, and Ports of Auckland Ltd itself. It was a high-powered, diverse and very representative group.

A year later, in July 2016, they reached a remarkable consensus. The group agreed:

•The existing port is not big enough for the freight and cruise demands it will face in 25 to 40 years. (The port handles close to one million containers a year now; that’s expected to rise by a further million every 20 years.)

•Rail and road links out of the port will reach capacity within the same period, if not earlier.

•Over the next 20 or so years the port will require extra capacity on its existing site, “prior to a new port being established”.

•Economic, environmental, cultural and social factors are all critical in deciding the future of the port and of the port land.

•It is in Auckland’s best interests to keep all the existing functions of the port. So, for example, the city would lose out if car imports were shifted to Northport, near Whangarei.

•Other North Island ports will lack the long-term capacity to take over entirely from the Auckland port.

•Taking all this into account, there is “sufficient probability” that a new port for freight will be required. Planning should proceed on that basis.

•Berths for cruise ships should be retained in the city centre.

A long list of 28 site options was identified, including Northport and Tauranga. That was narrowed to eight and then finally to two: the Firth of Thames and the Manukau Harbour.

The hope was that all these conclusions would become the foundation for debate and planning about the future of the port.

Since then, the Government has changed and the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First commits them to a ports future study of their own. The details of that are soon to be announced.

NZ First campaigned in the election for the car import business to be relocated to Northport, and other functions to be dispersed to the regions too. However, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones told the Herald this week that the chief executive of Ports of Auckland and others had been briefing him and what they said had “taken my fancy”.

Shifting the port is not an easy proposition, Jones said, and he understood that much better now.

Why the Firth of Thames or Manukau Harbour? The first part of the answer is that the most important site is not either of those, or the current Waitemata site. It’s Wiri.

That’s where Ports of Auckland has its the inland port, where much of the freight is taken for sorting and dispatch. Wiri is the fast-growing heart of freight logistics in the upper North Island.

The Manukau Harbour is a very short hop, across largely open land, to Wiri. The Firth of Thames would also be relatively easy to connect to Wiri, with a dedicated road and rail corridor through the Hunua Ranges. Both options would allow freight capacity to grow without the transport links disrupting commuter traffic.

A port in the Firth of Thames would be on a new island connected by a causeway. There are many breeding grounds for birds in the area but, surprisingly, around the world port activity has not been disruptive to bird breeding.

A port in the Manukau would require extensive dredging, and shipping would be subject to the wilder conditions of the west coast and the Manukau Harbour entrance.

There are many other environmental, cultural and social issues to be considered. The cost of shifting the port was identified by the Port Future Study as being $5 billion, although there are other analysts who dispute this.

Meanwhile, this week the Auckland Council received an officials’ report on Ports of Auckland’s own 30-year plan. It includes the complete demolition of Marsden Wharf, a building for handling car imports, a hotel and a further extension of Bledisloe Wharf into the harbour.

That extension was to be 40m, but Ports of Auckland has scaled it back to 13m.

Mayor Phil Goff said he didn’t know if the hotel was a good idea or not, but noted that Ports of Auckland didn’t need a decision on it for five to 10 years. He also said he was “frankly uncomfortable even with the 13m extension” but was not going to oppose it.

Lindsay Mackie and Sean Park of Archimedia presented their plan at the same meeting. Goff was enthusiastic, calling it “a great design” and “a great first step”.

Planning committee chair Chris Darby was also keen. He called it “extremely stimulating” and said it was a reminder to council not to let Ports of Auckland do anything that would compromise the longer-term potential of the site.

He was particularly worried about that Ports of Auckland proposal for a hotel.

Goff’s main message to councillors, in regard to both the Ports of Auckland plan and the Archimedia plan, was that they needed a bigger picture. “Look at South Bank in Brisbane,” he told his colleagues. “It used to be a decrepit port area. Look at Darling Harbour in Sydney. We could do the same in Auckland.”

He reminded councillors that Ports of Auckland, as part of the Port Future Study, had accepted it would outgrow its site. “They knew that in 30 years they’d be out of there,” he said, adding that this was “confirmed in a workshop” the council held a couple of weeks ago.

He didn’t think either Northport or Tauranga would provide a solution for Auckland. He said it was a “no brainer” to support the Government as it considered its options for guaranteeing supply chains in the upper North Island. It was also a “no brainer” for Auckland “to protect our interests and our dividends”.

“It’s our port, not the Government’s port,” he said.

The mayor, and in all likelihood Auckland Council with him, want to shift the port but not by way of losing the car importing or any other functions. There’s a battle with the Government brewing on that one.

As for the Archimedia plan, it’s not a blueprint. Lindsay Mackie calls it a conversation starter.

Archimedia has left it to the economics and environmentalists and politicians and others to worry away about when and where to shift the port. But while that happens, it wants to inject some imaginative thinking into the debate about the current site.

It wants to lift the debate above the short-term distractions of new hotels and 13m reclamations and focus instead on big-picture planning and long-term opportunities.

It has challenged Auckland to think about what we would really like to see on our downtown waterfront.

Cement shipping to move from Auckland to Northland

The Golden Bay cement works at Portland near Whangarei.
The Golden Bay cement works at Portland near Whangarei.

New Zealand’s biggest cement manufacturer and supplier says it will move its shipping services to the South Island from Auckland to Northland.

David Thomas, Fletcher Building chief executive of building products, said Golden Bay Cement had late last year begun shipping cement directly out of Northport at Whangarei.

Around 11 per cent of all cement made in Portland will eventually be shipped to the South Island directly from Northport.

Previously, the cement had been shipped directly from Portland to Auckland where pods were filled at the Eastport facility – the large white dominant dome-shaped structure on Auckland’s waterfront.

Golden Bay was using Northport’s facilities and a newly-introduced fortnightly coastal shipping service to improve the way it moves cement powder from its plant in Portland near Whangarei, to distribution hubs around the country, Thomas said.

Paul Thorn, GBC Winstone head of cement, said that before the change to Northport last September, cement had been shipped directly from the Portland dock to Auckland.

“So we were effectively double handling the cement for the South Island.”