Ports of Auckland tragedy: Maritime New Zealand leading investigation into worker’s death

Maritime NZ is heading an investigation into the death of a worker at the Ports of Auckland in the early hours of yesterday morning. Photo / Michael Craig
Maritime NZ is heading an investigation into the death of a worker at the Ports of Auckland Photo / Michael Craig

NZ Herald 31/8/20

Maritime authorities are now leading the investigation into the death of a worker at the Ports of Auckland over the weekend.

Emergency services were called to the Fergusson Container Terminal, in Parnell, about 2am yesterday.

WorkSafe was notified of the death, but has since released a statement saying Maritime New Zealand will be leading the investigation into the incident.

A spokesman for Maritime NZ confirmed it was looking after the investigation. Police are also involved.

The investigation comes as a workers’ union vows to fight for the health and safety of all people in the workplace – no matter what line of work they do.

First Union NZ took to social media site Twitter to express their views as well as pay tribute to yesterday’s victim.

“Everyone should be able to return home at the end of their shift, whatever work they do,” a post said today.

“Solidarity to the friends, whānau and workmates of the Ports of Auckland worker.

“Unions will continue to relentlessly champion health and safety in the workplace.”

Proposal for Government to buy 50 per cent stake in Ports of Auckland from council

Tom Dillane

Tom Dillane is a reporter at the New Zealand Herald tom.dillane@nzme.co.nz@tomdillane1

A written proposal from the chair of Auckland Council’s planning committee for the Government to buy a 50 per cent stake in the Ports of Auckland has been released to the Herald today.

The four-page draft proposal from Auckland councillor Chris Darby outlines that “time is of the essence” as the city loses $65 million a day in lockdown two, and selling an interest in the ports is the most logical way to save council’s finances.

The original Covid-19 lockdown left a $750m hole in Auckland Council’s budget, and the city’s economy broadly is losing $65m a day during the second August lockdown.

“With the re-emergence of Covid-19 in early August, Auckland Council is now faced with even further reductions in revenue and is fast running out of options to progress already reduced work programmes while balancing its finances,” Darby writes in the proposal.

“My proposal to transfer a 50 per cent stake in POAL to Government ticks a number of important strategic boxes and is a win for Auckland and a win for New Zealand.

“With the re-emergence of Covid-19, the need to prepare has new urgency. It is unreasonable and unsustainable to expect being spoon-fed with government handouts.”

Darby says he considered three key moves to generate revenue from Auckland Council’s strategic assets: the disposal of part or all of the Auckland International Airport [$1.9 billion], the dissolution of public energy trust Entrust [$2.6b], or the disposal of part or all of POAL [$1.2-1.6b].

The four-page draft proposal from Auckland councillor Chris Darby outlines that
The four-page draft proposal from Auckland councillor Chris Darby outlines that “time is of the essence” as the city loses $65 million a day in lockdown two. Photo / File

But selling 50 per cent of the POAL, with an estimated worth of between $1.2 billion and $1.6b, was the preferred option because it would free up “significant capital for injection into future-ready projects” to respond to Covid-19, and be more politically feasible.

“I have purposely avoided the ongoing and eventually damaging inconsequential rearranging of council’s lesser assets in preference for a major transaction that more immediately and materially repositions council’s finances,” Darby wrote.

The councillor said he has informally discussed the proposal with Auckland mayor Phil Goff, the deputy mayor, the other council committee chairs, and three government ministers.

A spokesperson from the mayor’s office said it was the first time the mayor has seen the councillor’s formal proposal.

“The mayor has publicly stated previously that he is not in favour of the sale of strategic assets. Any such proposal would need to be considered by councillors through the normal council process,” the mayor’s spokesperson said.

A spokesperson from the mayor's office said it was the first the mayor has seen councillor Darby's formal proposal. Photo / File
A spokesperson from the mayor’s office said it was the first the mayor has seen councillor Darby’s formal proposal. Photo / File

However, the chair of the council’s finance and performance committee, Desley Simpson, said she was disappointed Darby had not properly canvassed his proposal with her.

But Simpson added she was aware of ideas circulating within council about selling POAL, as the council’s governing body begins consultation on its 10-year Long-Term Plan next week.

“I am disappointed councillor Darby hasn’t shown due respect to his colleagues by discussing his ideas in detail before taking them to the media,” Simpson said.

“These ideas aren’t unique to councillor Darby. Others have mentioned them before and it would seem unusual he would seem to take them as his own when he will be aware that other people have mentioned them before.”

Auckland Council's finance and performance committee chair Desley Simpson. Photo / File
Auckland Council’s finance and performance committee chair Desley Simpson. Photo / File

Deputy mayor Bill Cashmore also said he had not had detailed discussions with Darby about sale of the POAL, and felt it was “unfortunate” he had not produced a “more formal paper to councillors”.

“Councillor Darby and I did discuss several weeks back that there would be a need to have a long-term financial plan or strategy that may have to be by necessity something other than business as usual,” Cashmore said.

“Councillor Darby also bought something along these lines to a chairs’ meeting but with no detail to it.”

POAL chief executive Tony Gibson said any comment on the sale of the POAL should be left with its owners – Auckland Council.

Darby’s proposal specifically rules out an private investor in the council’s stake in POAL, stating that “would be politically unacceptable, for both council and Government, and likely be resisted by iwi and Aucklanders”.

The benefit of the Government owning 50 per cent of POAL would be aiding the post-Covid-19 “recovery of the Auckland economy without setting a precedent, which grant funding potentially could”.

Aside from the direct injection of substantial funds, for the council the transfer of ownership would remove half of the consolidated debt of POAL, which Darby says currently sits at $490m.

The original Covid-19 lockdown left a $750 million hole in Auckland Council's budget, and the city's economy broadly is losing $65m a day during the second August lockdown.
The original Covid-19 lockdown left a $750 million hole in Auckland Council’s budget, and the city’s economy broadly is losing $65m a day during the second August lockdown.

Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Brett O’Riley – also a former chief of council CCO Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development – endorsed Darby’s proposal.

“From our perspective we would be pleased to see Auckland Council do this. It’s something we have called on for a long time,” O’Riley said.

“We supported the average 3.5 per cent rate increase because we recognised there is a significant amount of infrastructure both to be maintained and developed by Auckland Council and its entities in Auckland, which is part of Auckland’s long-term plan.

“Auckland’s only going to continue to grow so we have to find ways of injecting more capital into Auckland Council’s activities. Clearly during Covid-19 it’s a hard call to make. But at times like this we have to make some hard decisions.”

The Ministry of Transport has been contacted for comment.

Covid 19 coronavirus: Auckland and Tauranga port communities caught in mass Covid-19 test order

Ports of Auckland Covid-19 test station has tested more than 1000 people. Photo / File
Ports of Auckland Covid-19 test station has tested more than 1000 people. Photo / File

By: Andrea Fox Herald business writer andrea.fox@nzme.co.nz

The logistics skills of the busy ports of Auckland and Tauranga are being showcased to the max as they respond to out-of-the-blue and fast-changing Ministry of Health directives to ensure urgent Covid-19 testing of all their users and staff.

Both ports say the latest, much expanded, directive, issued on Saturday just hours after director general of health Ashley Bloomfield surprised the sector with an urgent testing order, will affect about 6000 people at each port – but they expect little disruption to operations.

However the Road Transport Forum says the Government’s “panicked reaction” to try to find if freight is the source of the return of Covid-19’s community transmission, is causing “mayhem” at the ports for trucking operators.

On Friday with no warning, Bloomfield ordered “everyone who works at the maritime border” to be tested by 11.59pm on Monday night. Testing applied for all people who worked at ports around New Zealand who might come into contact with ships’ crew.

With testing facilities reportedly scarce or stretched even this was a tall order, but Saturday’s order widened the test requirement to anyone who had worked at Auckland or Tauranga ports since 11.59pm on Tuesday July 21. According to spokespeople for the two ports, collectively that involves about 12,000 people.

Those having to be tested included shipping agents, stevedores, cargo drivers, contractors, suppliers of goods and services, government agency employees and any crew members who may have come ashore.

The ports were to work with their local DHBs and take all practical steps to ensure their constituents were aware of the order. People could be tested at a community testing centre or at a testing centre set up at the port.

Auckland’s port has had a testing facility waterside since Thursday. A spokesman said around 1000 people had been tested over three days.

A Port of Tauranga spokeswoman said the port had set up a testing site for the DHB, but as at Sunday evening there were no DHB testers yet on site.

She said as it was surveillance testing, people without symptoms were not required to wait until they had test results before returning to work.

“Work groups are separated at the moment due to Covid-19 precautions so it would be highly unlikely that any infection would spread far,” she said.

A Maritime NZ notice said a message about the broader testing requirement had been sent to all port companies, stevedoring companies, unions, harbourmasters, agents, organisations representing the marine industry, fishing operators and maritime operators.

The Ports of Auckland spokesman said it was important to note that port workers never directly touched freight, which was handled remotely or by machines. Containers were never opened at the port by workers. The port had had Covid-19 security and restrictions in place since late January, he said.


“Work groups are separated at the moment due to Covid-19 precautions so it would be highly unlikely that any infection would spread far,” a port spokeswoman said.

Firth of Thames best home for a new port for 100-plus years: Auckland Business Chamber (and Cubic agrees)

The suggestion of the Firth of Thames is a
The suggestion of the Firth of Thames is a “brave, big call”. Photo/ Google

By: Andrea Fox Herald business writer andrea.fox@nzme.co.nz

Just when you thought not another report could be wrung out of Auckland’s port future debate, the Auckland Business Chamber is urging all Kiwis to completely “re-imagine” a port for 100-150 years – and it’s pick is in the Firth of Thames.

After staying pretty quiet during a flurry of reports over shifting the Auckland port, the chamber is launching its own take, “A Port for the Future”, which invites the community to use an accepted timeline that the existing port will do for another 25 or so years, to carefully plan another to last more than another century.

And for port observers feeling reported-out, Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett assures “this is not another report”.

“It is an effort by the chamber to get people to re-imagine where a port might be and what would be the best for New Zealand and New Zealand business – not a competition between Auckland and North or Tauranga but an informed discussion of what could be.”

Barnett said the chamber represents the voice of Auckland business without bias, and in this neutral position has stepped back to analyse all the discussion around the relocation of the port from Waitemata Harbour.

“The chamber … now realises that the issue is not just an Auckland problem, but is one that, if done correctly, will bring benefits right across New Zealand.”

The chamber had concluded the existing port was fully sustainable for another 25 to 30 years and that a solution is required beyond that. To provide a port solution beyond the generation after next required vision and a willingness to go beyond the familiar.

Ports of Auckland has 25-30 years of life left in it, says Auckland Business Chamber. Photo / Michael Craig
Ports of Auckland has 25-30 years of life left in it, says Auckland Business Chamber. Photo / Michael Craig

The chamber’s offering makes a case for a man-made island ship exchange terminal in the Firth of Thames, connected by broad gauge rail to a container terminal facility in the vicinity of Pokeno/Meremere.

The island terminal would be “a whole-of-New Zealand” terminal servicing large foreign trade ships handling all import and export containers. The report does not discuss costs but points to several overseas examples to underline there is nothing in the paper that is not tried and proven elsewhere in the world.

“What is running out (for the existing port) is social licence and that’s what’s motivating us to try to accelerate the debate and re-imagine what a port could look like”, Barnett told the Herald.

“What’s been uncomfortable has been the apparent political nature of the discussion so far, it tends to have been personality-driven from the north – almost an anti-Auckland thing. Yet this isn’t about either of those things, it’s about a nation down in the South Pacific dependent on its ability to import and export.

“We need something for the next 100 years and the people of New Zealand should make that choice. It’s not up to a politician or a government.

“(So far) we have re-imagined the port simply by saying ‘let’s pick up Auckland port and take it north (to Northport)’. I’m saying we can do it another way.”

The chamber will widely distribute its paper within the freight, transport and shipping sector and invite comment and discussion directly to the chamber.

The chamber’s analysis concluded there would always be a need for a port in Auckland – “just not as we know it”.

Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett.
Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett.

Social licence issues arising at New Zealand ports were “but the tip of the iceberg and demonstrate that the focus being purely on relocation of the Port of Auckland is extremely narrow and has the potential to lead to a flawed conclusion”, said the paper.

“Ports of Auckland is clearly approaching a sunset phase, however, it is the chamber’s view that the present facility will be capable of handling existing throughput plus growth for several years to come … (but) it is inevitable and acknowledged by the chamber, that the port’s container facilities will be shifted from the present location to another site.”

The paper said volume growth and investment required at the Port of Tauranga, along with “other issues starting to emerge” made it “pretty safe to assume that the Tauranga terminal will also be looking for a new location in future”. In four weeks the Tauranga port handled as many containers as Wellington’s port in a year.

Current modelling showed that with the construction of the future city of Drury South, the Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga triangle would encompass four of New Zealand’s six largest cities.

Over the next 30 years the population in the area between greater Auckland and Taupo was forecast to grow by 7.8 per cent a year. During this time the rest of New Zealand’s population was predicted to grow by 2 per cent a year and by 3.6 per cent north of Auckland.

The option of developing a new port at Manukau Harbour raised in earlier reports was indeed an option when considered just in the context of Auckland, the paper said.

“However it is not compatible with the chamber’s objective of providing a future solution that will benefit NZ Inc. Throughout … the chamber has avoided introducing untested or yet to be implemented technology as will be required to overcome the hazardous conditions presented by the Manukau Harbour entrance.”

The Firth of Thames had been looked at in studies over the past 25 years.

“Unfortunately the concept appears to be too far out of the mainstream for people to understand, especially as it has only been viewed as a solution solely for Auckland and suggest constructions methods based on the traditional.”

The paper details modern construction methods used overseas.

Barnett concedes the chamber’s suggestion of the Firth of Thames is a “brave, big call” given the environmental, wildlife and iwi concerns that are likely to be raised against it.

But with time on New Zealand’s side for consultation, research, innovation and planning, problems could be properly addressed and hopefully overcome.

Barnett, a veteran of port group discussions over the years, worked with ports consultant Tony Boyle to produce the paper. The project cost did not exceed $10,000, he said.

“But I like to think it is rich in intention.”

Freight company CEO says Manukau Harbour ‘wouldn’t work’ as a Ports of Auckland replacement

A top freight executive says no shipping company would choose Manukau Harbour as a potential new destination for an Auckland port.

A report by economic consultancy Sapere published yesterday ranked Manukau Harbour as the best option. It considered Northport, Manukau, the Firth of Thames, the Port of Tauranga and a shared increase in capacity at both Northport and the Port of Tauranga.

An earlier report, backed by New Zealand First, identified Northport at Marsden Point as the best option. The report was completed by a Government working group led by former Far North mayor Wayne Brown.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff called the previous Northport work “shoddy” and Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it “had a clearly predetermined outcome” in favour of moving the port to Marsden Point.

New Zealand First still backs Northport as a new location, with MP Shane Jones saying Manukau was the most treacherous harbour in the country and unfit as an alternative site for Ports of Auckland.

Carr and Haslam director Chris Carr said he didn’t know how the Sapere report had come up with Manukau Harbour.

“It’s probably about the only time in the world I’ll ever agree with Shane Jones,” Carr told told Morning Report.

“The prevailing weather comes in on the western side of the country. Ports don’t exist in the west coast of New Zealand, they exist on the east coast.

“I’m no maritime person but all the shipping companies say that they won’t go to the west coast and that in itself would tend to make Manukau the first shipless port that we’d have in the country.

“It’s simply not suitable operationally and it wouldn’t work no matter how much we might try and make it fit.”

If the port had to be moved from Auckland it should be to somewhere ships can get in and out safely, he said.

“You also want to go somewhere near the largest consumption area which is the Auckland-Tauranga-Hamilton-Waikato area.

“The only place you can do that is the Firth of Thames. It’s not ideal.”

He agreed with the Sapere report that Ports of Auckland could keep operating for more than 30 years before it ran out of space where it was.

“But New Zealand’s not good at doing this sort of stuff and we take so long to do it that we need to start working at it and looking at it.

“If you look at it from a logistical point of view, the decisions become quite easy – it’s when you get politics involved it becomes quite hard.

“The shipping companies who in the end of the day determine where their vessels come would not choose Manukau, ever.”

Shane Jones told Morning Report he had come off second best to people opposed to a relocation to Northland.

“I had professionally and personally campaigned with my leader for the expansion of Northport and relocation of Ports of Auckland activity to Tauranga and Northland,” he said.

He invoked the sinking of the Orpheus in 1863, in which 189 people died, as reason to not build a port at Manukau Harbour.

“I will prophesy that a thousand years will pass before a new port will ever be located in Manukau Harbour.

“[The Sapere report] wants to take us over the bar of the most treacherous harbour in New Zealand and dredge to a level of spill that will rival Mt Cook somewhere in New Zealand or it’ll be dumped in the ocean.”

Jones said work on a new port needed to “get cracking” in 10 to 15 years.

“In New Zealand we leave too many infrastructure decisions to the last minute.”

No decision is to be made before the election, leaving it for political parties to campaign on.

Manukau Harbour ‘wouldn’t work’ as new Auckland port

Manukau Harbour would never work as a new location for Auckland’s port, transport company director Chris Carr says.Manukau Harbour

Manukau Harbour. Photo: RNZ / Jessie Chiang

A report by economic consultancy Sapere published yesterday ranked Manukau Harbour as the best option. It considered Northport, Manukau, the Firth of Thames, the Port of Tauranga and a shared increase in capacity at both Northport and the Port of Tauranga.

An earlier report, backed by New Zealand First, identified Northport at Marsden Point as the best option. The report was completed by a government working group led by former Far North mayor Wayne Brown.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff called the previous Northport work ‘shoddy’ and Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it “had a clearly pre-determined outcome” in favour of moving the port to Marsden Point.

New Zealand First still backs Northport as a new location, with MP Shane Jones saying Manukau was the most treacherous harbour in the country and unfit as an alternative site for Ports of Auckland.

Carr and Haslam director Chris Carr said he didn’t know how the Sapere report had come up with Manukau Harbour.

“It’s probably about the only time in the world I’ll ever agree with Shane Jones,” Carr told told Morning Report.

“The prevailing weather comes in on the western side of the country. Ports don’t exist in the west coast of New Zealand, they exist on the east coast.

“I’m no maritime person but all the shipping companies say that they won’t go to the west coast and that in itself would tend to make Manukau the first shipless port that we’d have in the country.

“It’s simply not suitable operationally and it wouldn’t work no matter how much we might try and make it fit.”

If port had to be moved from Auckland it should be to somewhere ships can get in and out safely, he said.

“You also want to go somewhere near the largest consumption area which is the Auckland-Tauranga-Hamilton-Waikato area.

“The only place you can do that is the Firth of Thames. It’s not ideal.”

He agreed with the Sapere report that Ports of Auckland could keep operating for more than 30 years before it ran out of space where it was.

“But New Zealand’s not good at doing this sort of stuff and we take so long to do it that we need to start working at it and looking at it.

“If you look at it from a logistical point of view the decisions become quite easy – it’s when you get politics involved it becomes quite hard.

“The shipping companies who in the end of the day determine where their vessels come would not choose Manukau, ever.”

Shane Jones told Morning Report he had come off second best to people opposed to a relocation to Northland.

“I had professionally and personally campaigned with my leader for the expansion of Northport and relocation of Ports of Auckland activity to Tauranga and Northland,” he said.

He invoked the sinking of the Orpheus in 1863, in which 189 people died, as reason to not build a port at Manukau Harbour.

“I will prophesy that a thousand years will pass before a new port will ever be located in Manukau Harbour.

“[The Sapere report] wants to take us over the bar of the most treacherous harbour in New Zealand and dredge to a level of spill that will rival Mt Cook somewhere in New Zealand or it’ll be dumped in the ocean.”

Jones said work on a new port needed to “get cracking” in 10 to 15 years.

“In New Zealand we leave too many infrastructure decisions to the last minute.”

No decision is to be made before the election, leaving it for political parties to campaign on.

Transport lobby opposes port move north

Northport should stick to what it's already doing according to the trucking industry. Photo / Tania Whyte
Northport should stick to what it’s already doing according to the trucking industry. Photo / Tania Whyte

NZ Insights By: Imran Ali

The National Road Carriers’ Association has released a report it commissioned from TG Enterprises, which opposes shifting Ports of Auckland to Whangārei, saying it would be logistically impractical and cost-prohibitive to do so, while increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

The report, based on interviews with trucking companies and stakeholders, concluded that Auckland’s port provided the best value for money and should continue in its current location until it could not cope with future growth, which it expected would be at least 30 years away.

But those lobbying for the move to Northport, including former Far North mayor Wayne Brown and Northland Mayoral Forum chairman Jason Smith, say the argument for the status quo lacks logic.

With a focus on road freight, the report said the issue was not port location but the efficiency and safety of road (and rail) access to the upper North Island ports of Northport, Auckland and Tauranga. It said servicing customers by road freight from Northport would be nearly eight times more expensive, or more than $1 billion annually, than from Ports of Auckland.

An analysis of road freight cost showed a container truck that made five trips a day between Ports of Auckland and South Auckland for $50 would be only able to achieve one from Northport, at an estimated cost of $230.

“With Auckland’s business growth moving south, and Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty dominating the upper North Island’s economic growth, Northport is too far away,” the report said, while moving to Whangārei would add more than 125,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year for container road freight, compared with about 27,000 tonnes from Ports of Auckland to South Auckland.

That would seriously undermine New Zealand’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, it said.

“The decision to move the port from Auckland to Northport is being rushed. We need to stop. Take stock. Reassess,” the report added.

But Brown said the association had a vested interest ensuring that the port didn’t move north.

He described claims about greenhouse gas emissions, as “total and absolute crap,” saying goods transported to and from Northport by rail freight would mean less pollution and traffic congestion.

“At the moment, more stuff goes to Auckland from Tauranga, which is further away from Northport. Milk from Northland goes to Tauranga for export,” he said.

“Auckland is planning 50,000 houses in the south and 86,000 houses north of (the city). Where are the biggest new commercial businesses like IKEA and Costco going? To West Auckland, not south,” Brown said.

He led the Upper North Island Supply Chain (Unisc) working group, whose report promised an economic boom for Northland if the $10 billion port move happened.

“There’s nothing that will make Northland do better than shifting the port from Auckland,” he said.

Smith said the days of Ports of Auckland were numbered, whereas Northport offered the best deepwater port in the upper North Island.

“Everyone is aware of the growth in Waikato and further south, but the next era of growth in New Zealand will, in my view, be on the north side of Auckland,” he said.

“Ships will be getting bigger in future, and the risk for New Zealand is they won’t be able to come here. That’s where the deepwater port at Northport has an advantage.”

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the report was built around fear and apprehension, citing points of weakness in the state of the trucking industry.

“We’ll see more electric trucks in future, but for now we see a significant role for rail, and I think the trucking industry is churlish in not acknowledging the $700 million put aside for a four-lane highway out of Whangārei heading south,” Jones said.

Through its Provincial Growth Fund, the Government has provided $300 million for work on the existing rail line between Auckland and Whangārei.

Auckland port keeps shore leave ban for overseas cargo ship crews

Cargo ship crew arriving in Auckland from overseas ports are being told to stay on board their vessel to prevent the potential spread of Covid-19.AUCKLAND - JULY 12 2018:Freight ship in Ports of Auckland. its New Zealands largest commercial port handling more than NZ$20 billion of goods per year

Under alert level 1, crews at sea for more than 14 days who have not declared illness are allowed to disembark, but Ports of Auckland says that’s too risky without health checks. Photo: 123RF

Ports of Auckland banned general shore leave for all seafarers arriving in the city when the country went into lockdown.

Under official rules for alert level 1, crews at sea for more than 14 days who have not declared illness are allowed to disembark with no health checks required.

But port spokesperson Matt Ball said this was too risky and it had asked the Ministry of Health for an assurance health checks will be made.

“They can simply walk out into downtown Auckland. There are no health checks or anything like that.

“It’s part of the international rules around shipping and in normal times it’s perfectly fine but at times like this there is potential, we think, for illness to get across the border so we’ve taken steps in addition to the official advice to prevent that.”

Ball said about 10 cargo ships per week arrived in Auckland, each with up to 20 crew on board, and in the last week there had been several cases of crew members arriving and reporting illness.

There had been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 coming through the port via freighters.

But the fact that crew members were reporting illness showed there must be roots of transmission from another port, with the potential for the illness to incubate for a while and be passed on to crew mates, he said.

“We think this needs to be explored fully to make sure that this route is completely closed off.”

He said the port was waiting on further guidance from the ministry about conducting health checks.

Ports of Auckland banned shore leave for crew arriving from Covid-19 hotspots early this year, and a blanket ban has been in place since the country went into lockdown.

“It’s important for the welfare of these crew that they are allowed to go onshore as long as it’s safe and that’s what we’re concerned about.

“We want to make sure it’s safe for the crew and the community,” Ball said.

Auckland’s port seeks consent for deeper channel – POAL

A deeper channel needed to safeguard Auckland’s vital international supply lines

Ports of Auckland has applied to Auckland Council for consent to deepen the city’s shipping channel and a resource consent hearing on the matter will be held next week.

Auckland’s population is forecast to grow significantly, with a million more people expected to live here by 2050. More people means more demand for the products we all buy from overseas, which means more containerised imports and – bigger container ships.

Ports of Auckland must be ready to handle this growth.

The largest container ships calling in Auckland now carry up to 5,000 twenty-foot containers (TEU). Shipping lines want to bring 6-7,000 TEU ships here in the next 2-3 years and in future we will need to host ‘New Panamax’ ships that can carry around 12,000 TEU.

The channel is currently 12.5 metres deep at low tide, but New Panamax ships are 366 metres long with a maximum draft of 15.2 metres. Ports of Auckland is only applying to deepen the channel to 14 metres – so how will the ships get in?

The answer is tidal windows. In common use globally and at other New Zealand ports, a ‘tidal window’ simply means that deeper draft ships enter or leave port when the tide is high enough.

To create a tidal window suitable for New Panamax ships to access port safely we will need a channel which is 14 metres deep on the straights and 14.2 metres deep on the bends. Our berth will be dredged to 15.5 metres so ships can stay through a full tide cycle.

By using tidal windows, we can minimise dredging and reduce cost. It is the most efficient way to accommodate larger container ships.

The dredging will be done by the lowest impact method available – a digger on a barge. The digger will have a long arm to reach down to the seabed to scoop out material. The channel bed is mostly soft material like marine muds, mudstones and some sandstone and gritstone, which can be removed easily. No blasting is required.

Ports of Auckland asked for the consent application to be publicly notified by Auckland Council so that people could have their say on the project. Over two hundred submissions were received.

If consent is granted, work on deepening the channel could start in 2021.

Obituary – Sandy Gibson

Iain MacIntrye – Shipping Gazette

Well-renowned, former senior shipping executive, Sandy Gibson, passed away on June 12 aged 75 years.

Commencing his career as an apprentice cadet with Union Steam Ship Company in 1959 and subsequently gaining his Masters’ Certificate, Mr Gibson came ashore to assume the role of cargo superintendent for Wilhelmsen Line.

He helped establish major shipping agency Seabridge New Zealand and
became its managing director, while also serving seven years as a Port of
Wellington director.

A member of the Wellington and Auckland branches of the New Zealand Company of Master Mariners and Master of the New Zealand Company, Mr Gibson became Ports of Auckland (PoAL) operations general manager and then Axis Intermodal general manager before retiring in 2005.

In a statement prepared for the Shipping Gazette, PoAL said its staff were saddened by the loss.

“He is remembered as a genuinely good guy, known for his calmness under pressure, his immense knowledge of the industry and his supportive and respectful character,” stated the port company.

“He was a significant figure in PoAL’s history, well-liked by customers, port stakeholders, colleagues and employees.

“Many at the port remember Sandy because of the time he took with people.

He was never too rushed to stop and chat. He was also always ready for a bit of fun and mischief.

“Sandy was instrumental in establishing PoAL’s Graduate Cadet Programme in 2008 which saw a number of young people enter the ports industry as a new career and who subsequently moved onto other industry-related positions in New Zealand and overseas.

“He was always giving of his time and his knowledge and had the sharpest mind, even in his later years. He visited the port at least once a year to collect his beloved PoAL calendar and to catch up on the performance of various shipping lines and their services and any changes in the industry.

“In 2018 he even came to the port to welcome in our newest set of container cranes. He loved the shipping and logistics industry and he was a true gentleman.

“In honour of his memory we are flying our flags at half-mast.”