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20th October 2018

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Shipping

Rolls-Royce and Intel announce autonomous ship collaboration

Rolls-Royce and Intel are intending to collaborate on designs for sophisticated intelligent shipping systems that will make commercial shipping safer, the parties announced yesterday.

This will advance smart, connected and data-centric systems for ship owners, operators, cargo owners and ports, bringing together the expertise in advanced ship technology from Rolls-Royce with components and systems engineering from Intel. With a focus on safety, new ships will have systems with the same technology found in smart cities, autonomous cars and drones.

The new shipping intelligence systems will have data centre and artificial intelligence capabilities as well as sophisticated edge computing throughout that independently manage navigation, obstacle detection and communications. The components embedded in these systems are dedicated to work load consolidation, edge computing, communications and storage, including:

  • Intel® Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology will solve design challenges associated with shipping intelligence by providing engineers with a flexible platform and the IP and components for edge operations such as obstacle detection and navigation
  • Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors optimised for High Performance Computing (HPC) technology will manage complex modelling of ship functions, with future developments using learning models to support fully autonomous operations
  • Memory and storage, including Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory and Intel® Optane™ SSD Intel® 3D NAND SSD will ensure ship intelligence systems are reliable, responsive and support extracting maximum value from the data generated through real-time analysis and systems modelling

Kevin Daffey, Rolls-Royce, Director, Engineering & Technology and Ship Intelligence said: “We’re delighted to sign this agreement with Intel, and look forward to working together on developing exciting new technologies and products, which will play a big part in enabling the safe operation of autonomous ships. This collaboration can help us to support ship owners in the automation of their navigation and operations, reducing the opportunity for human error and allowing crews to focus on more valuable tasks.

“Simply said, this project would not be possible without the leading-edge technology Intel brings to the table. Together, we’ll blend the best of the best, Intel and Rolls-Royce to change the world of shipping.”

Adrian Criddle, General Manager and SVP of Intel UK said: “Rolls-Royce is a key driver of innovation in the shipping industry we are proud to be working with them on smart, connected and data-centric systems that will be a foundation for safe shipping operations around the world in the future.”
Source: Rolls-Royce

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

Newshub.

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.”

Newshub.

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.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
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.
ALDEN WILLIAMS
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.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
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.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
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.”

CRANES BY NUMBERS

– 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.

Stuff

Napier Port share sale a potential catalyst for change

Fund managers say the Napier Port share sale could be a catalyst for a wider shake-up.
Fund managers say the Napier Port share sale could be a catalyst for a wider shake-up.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s proposal to sell and list up to 45 per cent of the port on NZX was an “an interesting and surprising” development, said James Lindsay, senior portfolio manager at Nikko Asset Management.

Listing the firm would help ensure it worked to achieve decent returns by looking after its New Zealand customers and suppliers. Subject to the pricing “we’d be fully supportive of them having something listed on market,” he said.

The council is embarking on a six-week consultation process with its ratepayers and favours selling up to $181 million of shares in the business. That would leave it with a controlling stake in a growing business, sufficient cash to fund environmental projects it plans, and a more diversified investment base.

Other options the council is seeking feedback on include the sale of a minority stake to a partner – which it thinks would raise less money – the sale of a long-term lease to an operator – which could raise the most money – or retaining the current structure and raising rates by 45 per cent to fund the port’s expansion.

Craig Stent, head of equities at Harbour Asset Management, believes there would be good interest if the listing goes ahead.

Port of Tauranga has delivered strong returns over many years and Napier would give investors an exposure to Hawke’s Bay’s agriculture and horticulture industries.

“They are fairly safe, defensive investments with a reasonable amount of growth – although that growth is somewhat linked to local GDP growth.”

New Zealand’s ports, previously run by elected harbour boards, were corporatised in 1988. The history of those that listed is mixed.

In 2010 the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research found the major ports had delivered substantial returns since corporatisation. But it also said they had considerable scope to improve their performance and that council ownership had been an obstacle to rationalisation within the sector.

But Ports of Auckland was delisted in 2005. The regional council, having extracted any surplus capital from the firm during the preceding 12 years, bought out the minority holders citing diminishing returns and the need to rationalise the city’s waterfront.

Talks on a possible merger with Tauranga ended in early 2007.

The port, which has a stake in Northport’s parent company, also built inland freight hubs at Wiri, Mt Maunganui, Longburn and now Horotiu. Longburn is operated in partnership with Napier Port.

In August, the government named a five-member panel to review the freight and logistics system in the upper North Island. Its brief includes assessing the feasibility of relocating the Auckland port business to Northland long-term.

Lyttelton Port Company was delisted in 2014, eight years after Christchurch City Holdings had proposed such a move as part of a plan to appoint Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings – the world’s biggest operator – to run the business.

That transaction withered after Port Otago bought a 10 percent blocking stake. Otago and Lyttelton investigated a merger in 2008 but that has not proceeded.

Stent said it would be encouraging if other councils – such as Christchurch and Auckland – relooked at a sell-down for their ports. Both cities have needs for capital elsewhere and could still retain a majority interest.

Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said the whole sector would benefit if more ports were subject to the investor scrutiny that comes with listing.

“If you get that across the country you get a much, much more efficient port system everywhere rather than some of them being poorly run because councils aren’t insisting on those commercial drivers.”

While he welcomed Napier Port’s potential listing, Nikko’s Lindsay believed there was still too much duplication in the sector. Running them each as separate businesses, each spending time and money investigating and new technologies like automation, was not efficient for the country.

“I think a consolidation of some of them to optimise the freight network for New Zealand would be a really good thing.”

An option that would encourage that was the operating lease model that Lyttelton and Napier had investigated and which has proven successful in Australia and other parts of the world.

Lindsay said that would leave councils full ownership of the port land and assets, and the operating company could get on and drive efficiencies. Having a single operating company for multiple ports would encourage greater optimisation across the country and further reduce costs.

Hawke’s Bay regional councillors initially favoured a 50-year lease of the Napier Port operation, which it estimates could raise $466m – leaving the council $366m to reinvest. Listing is expected to raise $181m and leave the council with $83m for reinvestment.

But the council was conscious that most of the interest in an operating lease would be from overseas players. Nor was it confident about committing the region to a 50-year partnership and what it would take to maintain that relationship.

The council said it was “concerned around values alignment and the importance of ensuring a clear and direct connection between the port, its staff, the local community and management.”

The option remains among four the council is consulting on.

“There’s huge value being lost in New Zealand Inc. for that model not being instigated,” Lindsay said.

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.

Sincerely,

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.”

NZ Intermodal Transport Safety Group formed

A new body has been formed to establish and maintain best practice safety and compliance standards for all road transport operators loading, handling and delivering intermodal imported and exported freight.

The NZ Intermodal Transport Safety Group (NZITSG) is to address the significant safety and other issues associated with the interface between road transport and other modes associated with import and export freight.

The NZITSG provides the road transport industry a single and convenient portal to talk with government, officials, port management, manufacturers and other stakeholders impacting road freight operators working in the import/export arena.

“We can achieve a lot more to improve safety and compliance once all the key industry players are working collaboratively than we can doing our own separate things,” says Group Chair Murray Young.

“It also makes sense for the industry to have information disseminated down through the Group and on to the businesses affected rather than having each company trying to engage with WorkSafe NZ, ports, manufacturers and training institutions on their own.”

As a sign of the industry’s commitment to improving workplace safety 21 separate transport companies were involved at the NZITSG’s initial August meeting. At that meeting the Group’s members were elected, essentially representing the interests of the majority of road freight transporters operating in this space.

The Group’s first major project will be to improve sidelifter safety. A number of companies have shared internal policy that will be incorporated into an industry code of practice for the use of sidelifters.

The NZITSG is also engaging with Worksafe NZ, manufacturers and educational and qualification institutions such as MITO to assist with development of the code of practice.

“The use of the Sidelifter Code of Practice, while recommended, will not be mandatory although the mandatory requirements that will be referenced in it cannot be avoided,” says Young.

“It is the intention of the NZITSG to make compliance uncomplicated and make sure that needless costs or compliance burden are not unnecessarily placed on operators. This Code of Practice will be the simplest and most effective mechanism available for industry to develop for the improvement of safety and compliance. The alternative is to wait for government to intervene and take a heavy-handed regulatory approach.”

The Group’s members represent each of the main port regions throughout New Zealand and are:

• Murray Young – NZ Express Transport – Christchurch

• Ian Pauling – CODA Group – Auckland

• Calven Bonney – L.W. Bonney & Sons– Auckland

• Mike Herrick – TDL Group – Auckland

• Grant Darrah – Reliance Transport – Auckland

• Clinton Burgess – CODA Group – Tauranga

• Nigel Eden – Tomoana Warehousing – Napier

• John Anderson – LG Andersons Transport– Wellington

• Richard Smith – Hilton Haulage – Christchurch

• Mark Purdue – H.W.R Group – Dunedin

The Road Transport Forum is providing secretariat services to the NZITSG.

The Port of Tauranga has become a megachurch: too big to touch

Pipi beds die and algae blooms, but iwi are repeatedly told ‘there’s nothing to see here’, writes Graham Cameron. 

When the Tainui canoe entered Tauranga harbour a millennium ago, it had the misfortune to run aground on a then prominent sandbar called Ruahine that sat below the waterline between Matakana Island and Mauao.

The Tainui was refloated and continued on its journey; the incident in which the Ruahine sandbar was central is remembered in a well known Tauranga Moana tauparapara:

Pāpaki tū ana ngā tai ki Mauao, i whānekenekehia, i whānukunukuhia, ka whiua reretia Wahinerua ki te wai, ki tai wiwi, ki tai wawa, ki te whai ao, ki te ao mārama.

You may well hear that tauparapara at our marae, but you won’t see the Ruahine sandbar if you walk Mauao. By 1970 the sandbar no longer existed. It’d been destroyed in the process of widening and deepening the harbour and entrance for the establishment of the Port of Tauranga.

Our church is progress, and in the Bay of Plenty, the megachurch is the Port of Tauranga. Megachurches tend to not so much follow the law as create the law; the news that the Port of Tauranga has operated without a consent for stormwater for the past 27 years came as no surprise to tāngata whenua in Tauranga Moana.

The Port of Tauranga is a shining city on the hill. It’s the engine that drives almost everything here. Logs, kiwifruit, steel, palm kernel, coal and containers all flow in and out, like the lungs of our economy. Cruise ships visit in increasing numbers – loved by local retailers, despised by locals who remember a time when it was all for them.

The port is jobs, but not great jobs: casual, no longer zero hours but definitely not certain hours, de-unionised, long shifts and efficiency first. The port is jobs and the Port of Tauranga has kept bread on the table for many of our old people and our whanaunga since its inception.

For all intents and purposes, the Port is a religious idol in our privatised, profit, growth and market driven New Zealand. And like all true and holy idols, it’ll brook no opposition – it’s central to the power of the political and economic elite.

The Port of Tauranga is 54% owned by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. The designation ‘regional council’ means that the 54% owner of the Port of Tauranga is also responsible under the Resource Management Act 1991 for managing the effects of using freshwater, land, air and coastal waters by issuing resource consents. For example, resource consents for stormwater discharge from ports.

Where parties fail to get a consent or follow the conditions of a consent, they can be fined or prosecuted. In 27 years of stormwater discharging into Tauranga harbour from the Port of Tauranga, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council has never fined or prosecuted the port.

The past 27 years are a series of false starts. The first consent lodged in 1998 never went anywhere because the port was slow in providing information requested by the council. The Regional Council then tried to couple the port’s consent with another for the Tauranga City Council. That failed because they couldn’t agree on who was liable for what discharge. Then it was revealed that Beca, contracted to do the consenting by the port, had lost the paperwork. The third application was lodged in 2013, but apparently nothing happened because of five years of consultation. We are now onto the fourth application. It is unlikely the port will be compliant this year.

When Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint investigated this, everyone seemed disappointed with themselves, but not exactly up in arms. Stormwater doesn’t sound all that worrying. And the stormwater runoff from the Port of Tauranga is not notably toxic.

David Culliford looked into the stormwater runoff at the Port of Tauranga in his 2015 thesis ‘Characterisation, potential toxicity and fate of storm water run-off from log storage areas of the Port of Tauranga’. As best as anyone can tell, it’s all within acceptable limits, but Culliford’s work is clear that requires more research. The runoff from the log storage includes bits of wood, resins, chemicals and at times raw effluent. The runoff can slightly lower the pH of the water which is shown to affect the development and behaviour of marine life. There are periods of acute toxicity, particularly from raw effluent during storms. The runoff is detectable to over 60 metres, indicating there’s likely a wide spread of whatever impacts exist. At the moment there isn’t a good base of research as to the impact of dredging on sedimentation and toxicity. Which led to the conclusion that all is essentially well.

But sit at a table during a hākari at any of our marae, and we all know something is wrong. Pipi beds disappear. That’s not abnormal, but the increasing regularity and the size of the beds that have disappeared is a change. There are places where you don’t collect pipi anymore because they’re unsafe. There’s so much more sea lettuce than we ever had before. Algal blooms are normal; we are often told we can’t eat our kaimoana. Most people just ignore the warnings. And we’re told by our Port and our councils that it’s normal, that it’s seasonal, that it’s always been like this. It hasn’t always been like this.

The uncomfortable reality today is that the Port of Tauranga is too big to be allowed to fail and we can’t afford to stop its growth and development. You will hear few voices calling to limit the Port of Tauranga. Neither their majority shareholder the regional council, nor the local community given how many Mums and Dads have shares in the port, nor iwi.

Our iwi have not held the Port of Tauranga to account. Our lines of defence are quite literally in the sand; we have never halted anything the port wanted to do. If we are to be honest, we have always come around to an agreement with the port. The last instance was dredging that was consented in 2012 where the shipping channel was deepened by three metres to allow cargo ships with nearly double the capacity into our port.

This was only two years after the Rena had run aground on the Astrolabe Reef. As the consent was being considered, a cargo ship carrying logs lost power in the channel and threatened running onto the rocks of Mauao. The dredging at that time included the removal of a section of Panepane, a large pipi bed off Matakana Island.

Even in this instance, as iwi we followed our normal pattern: bold statements and threats of protests; submissions against the consents; the consent granted and challenged at the Environment Court; our agreement to a new oversight committee, some scholarships, the opportunity for shares, and research that will confirm there is nothing to see here.

All of us in the Tauranga Moana community bow our heads to our local religious idol. However passionately we love our harbour and our environment, in the end we are willing to accept the assurances of the Port of Tauranga that they have this under control. We hold these things to be true: the Port of Tauranga will protect the marine environment for us and provide excellent returns every year.

No stormwater consent can pretend to stand as a barrier to such an expression of collective faith. No fine can be allowed to tarnish the reputation of our regional economic saviour, washed clean by the millions of trays of kiwifruit. As we splash at the water’s edge this summer, we will look across to the white steeples of the cranes, and smile at our tamariki, warning them not to eat the pipi because of the algal bloom. And we’ll tell them, don’t worry, everything is going to be alright.

 

Floating dry dock could bring close to $40m a year into Marlborough

A dry dock has been proposed for Shakespeare Bay near Picton.

A dry dock has been proposed for Shakespeare Bay near Picton.
STUART SMITH

OPINION: The many benefits that establishing a floating dry dock at Picton’s Shakespeare Bay would bring to our region cannot be overstated.

This is a valuable opportunity for Marlborough to significantly increase its economic resilience, future growth and provide high-quality, well-paid and reliable career options for our people.

Shakespeare Bay is undeniably a highly strategic place for a dry dock to be located. It’s right in the centre of the country, is handy to Cook Strait shipping lanes and has excellent rail, road and air connections.

The former navy frigate HMNZS Canterbury in an Auckland dry dock.

The former navy frigate HMNZS Canterbury in an Auckland dry dock.

The bay already operates around the clock as part of Port Marlborough’s operations and it is sheltered from Picton and its residents. As the deepest natural berth in New Zealand, minimal or no dredging would be required to operate a dry dock.

According to a research paper prepared by the Shipping Federation in 2015, a new floating dry dock could bring in an estimated $38 million in regional income per year.

This would present a truly significant string to our economic bow.

Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith says a dry dock would bring young workers to Picton.

Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith says a dry dock would bring young workers to Picton.

Concerns have been raised about biosecurity and the environment. The fact is that the water which comes out of the proposed dry dock is as clean, if not cleaner, as when it went in.

The potential for a biosecurity breach is an issue that the Marlborough Sounds is open to on a daily basis. Currently there are no restrictions on pleasure boats and commercial ships coming in and out of the Marlborough Sounds, which means that whatever is on the hulls of those vessels comes in with them.

It is my view that this poses a far greater biosecurity risk than a controlled, self-contained dry dock with water treatment systems in place to capture, treat and dispose of contaminants.

Many of New Zealand’s largest ships that would use the dry dock enter the Marlborough Sounds regularly anyway, including of course the interisland ferries and the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Building dry dock facilities in Picton to service these vessels, rather than sending them to another less suitable port in New Zealand or overseas actually brings better environmental outcomes as well as saving costs which would have been passed on to the consumer.

As I said, the opportunities this dry dock would bring to our region are huge. Picton itself has struggled to retain young people since the loss of the freezing works many years ago. Bringing a major employer to town would draw in, and retain, young people and naturally create positive flow-on effects for surrounding businesses.

Our region really does tick all the boxes as the obvious location for a new dry dock in New Zealand, and it is an opportunity Marlborough should absolutely embrace.

Huge dredge arrives at Lyttelton to work on shipping channel

One of the world’s largest dredges has arrived in Lyttelton to start deepening, widening and lengthening the port’s shipping channel as it prepares to welcome ever-larger ships.

The 230m long dredge, Fairway, travelled from Mumbai, India, with a stop in Singapore for cleaning and anti-fouling.

Lyttelton Port Company was granted resource consent in March to dredge the channel. The project was opposed by Ngāi Tahu and surfers group Surfbreak.

The company’s chief executive, Peter Davie said the work would enable bigger container ships to call at Lyttelton. Container vessels had “virtually doubled in size” in the last decade, and the work would trim freight costs for Lyttelton customers by more than 10 per cent, Davie said.

A container crane at work at Lyttelton's container port.

A container crane at work at Lyttelton’s container port.

 

Dredging will be done in stages, starting on Wednesday, and will take about 12 weeks to complete.

Fairway‘s owners, Netherlands-based contractor Royal Boskalis Westminster NV, will do the work.

In the meantime the dredge will be in dock for customs procedures and crew inductions.

The port company said the environmental monitoring programme for the project would be the largest ever in New Zealand. The biosecurity plan to allow the dredge to visit New Zealand was developed with input from science organisation the Cawthron Institute.

Lyttelton Port environmental advisor Jared Pettersson​ said a plume of silt will be visible coming from the dredge while it was working, but that it would not be environmentally harmful.

The Fairway will spend 12 weeks working in Lyttelton Harbour.

The Fairway will spend 12 weeks working in Lyttelton Harbour.

During the consenting process, Ngāi Tahu lodged environmental and cultural objections as to the local effects of dumping the silt. As part of a mediated settlement, the port company will provide real time data on the project on its Harbour Watch website, and is setting up video monitoring of the surf break at Taylors Mistake as a result its settlement with Surfbreak.

The company will also pay Ngāi Tahu $650,000 over 25 years to go towards mahinga kai (food gathering).

The first stage of the dredging will deepen the shipping channel for vessels with a 13.3m draught, while future stages will allow 14.5m draught vessels to enter and depart across all tides

The dredging plan for Lyttelton Harbour

The dredging plan for Lyttelton Harbour

How it works

The trailing suction hopper dredgers collect sand and silt from the seabed.

In stage one, the existing shipping channel will be lengthened by 2.5km, widened by 20m and deepened by up to 2m. Dredged sediment will be dumped at a designated spot 5km off Godley Head.

The dredgers are equipped with suction pipes ending in drag heads. When a vessel reaches the dredging location it reduces speed and lowers the suction pipes onto the seabed.

The drag head moves slowly over the bed collecting the sand like a giant vacuum cleaner. The mixture of sand and water is pumped into the hopper of the dredging vessel. Excess water flows out through overflows and dredging stops when the hopper is full.

The sand can be deposited through doors in the bottom of the vessel.

The Fairway, 230m long, has come to New Zealand from India.

The Fairway, 230m long, has come to New Zealand from India.
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