Waikato-Tainui held a blessing ceremony and turned the first soil for the Ruakura inland port on 28 March (L–R): Tania Simpson (TGH director), Tukoroirangi Morgan (Te Arataura member and TGH director), Kiingi Tuheitia (with the ceremonial shovel), Chris Joblin (TGH CEO), Hemi Rau (TGH director) and Rahui Papa (Te Arataura chairman)
Tainui Group Holdings (TGH), the intergenerational investor for Waikato-Tainui, has commenced foundational earthworks for the first stage of its inland port at Ruakura.
After a number of years on the drawing board and in the planning rooms, TGH chief executive Chris Joblin says it is an exciting milestone for the overall 480 ha project on the eastern boundary of Hamilton.
“As a long-term, staged development project likely to span 20–30 years, Ruakura will deliver great benefits for the region’s exporters and importers, as well as opportunities for Waikato-Tainui people, and has the potential to support 6000–12,000 jobs within the precinct once fully built,” Mr Joblin says.
The site was blessed by Kiingi Tuheitia in a tribal ceremony attended by Waikato-Tainui leaders and tribal members on 28 March.
TGH has appointed New Zealand-owned infrastructure company Fulton Hogan as contractor to carry out the initial works covering the first 7 ha of what will eventually be a 31 ha inland port with the capacity to handle around 1 million TEUs (20 foot container equivalents) per year when fully built.
“Foundational earthworks will involve trucking crushed rock into the site to preload the area to be used for the container marshalling yard. It will take around 12 months for the ground to settle before pavement layers, a rail siding, noise wall, screen planting and services can be completed,” Mr Joblin says.
Construction of sediment control structures and widening of site entry points are also underway and are expected to be completed by the middle of May, at which point the contractors will start stripping topsoil in preparation for the importing and placement of preload material from June.
Fulton Hogan Waikato regional manager Kerry Watkins says the company is pleased to be a partner with a project of national significance. “As we move into the initial works, keeping people safe on the roads and on the site is a top priority,” Mr Watkins says.
“We take the health and safety of our people and communities very seriously. Fulton Hogan has a zero harm policy and a commitment to safe public operations. Together with TGH, we will monitor feedback to ensure safe and courteous truck operations on public roads and seek to minimise impacts on neighbours,” he says.
Extra safety measures will include temporary traffic management warning signs, and speed restrictions.
TGH is now in consultation with a range of potential customers and tenants for the inland port and adjoining logistics hub which will provide ‘port neutrality’ between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga.
“The site will have excellent connections to the Main Trunk Line and to the new Waikato Expressway via a full diamond interchange,” Mr Joblin says.
TGH expects to appoint a world-class port operator in mid-2017 following an RFP (request for proposal) process which is currently underway, and plans to commence initial operations at the inland port in the first half of 2019.
Situated around 3 km from the Hamilton CBD, Ruakura will become New Zealand’s largest integrated logistics, commercial and lifestyle development. The core of the development is the 31 ha inland port, which is set for completion in 2020. Adjacent to the inland port will be a 60 ha logistics precinct to accommodate a range of substantial warehouse and distribution businesses.
Beyond this are proposed precincts for light industry, innovation, residential and retail activities, with around 50 ha of green space for amenity, environmental protection and recreation.
For further information, visit www.ruakura.co.nz