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24th November 2017

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Five-year wait for road too long: NZTA boss

Five years is far too long to wait for a new alternative route through the Manawatu Gorge, Ross I’Anson of the New Zealand Transport Agency told a meeting in Woodville.

About 300 people turned out for Tuesday night’s meeting to have their say on the 13 proposed options and Mr I’Anson, NZTA regional transport manager, said he wanted a three to four year time frame for the road.

“We are committed to building this in the quickest time possible,” he said.

“There are absolutely no winners at the moment and we are at the point now where we don’t have a road and we have to put something in place quickly.

Ross I'Anson, regional transport manager for the New Zealand Transport Agency answering questions in Woodville on Tuesday night.

Ross I’Anson, regional transport manager for the New Zealand Transport Agency answering questions in Woodville on Tuesday night.

“The process so far has taken just three months, normally it would take 18 months.”

Mr I’Anson also reassured people money wasn’t an issue.

“We’ve had the election and the money is still there,” he said.

“We want value for money, not the cheapest option, but the best option for economic development.

“We’re scrambling to get this done and we will have a short list of three to five preferred options ready for public open days on October 11 and 12 and plan to have the best-performing option by mid-December.”

Ashhurst residents Elizabeth, left in pink, and David Thompson were shocked to learn one of the gorge optional routes would go through their home of nine years. Photo / Christine McKay

Ashhurst residents Elizabeth, left in pink, and David Thompson were shocked to learn one of the gorge optional routes would go through their home of nine years. Photo / Christine McKay

However, at this stage Mr I’Anson said NZTA didn’t have pricing for any of the options.

When asked by the Dannevirke News if all people affected by the 13 options had been consulted, Mr I’Anson said his team had made phone calls, door-knocked or letter dropped to all owners on the property register.

However, before the meeting, Ashhurst resident Elizabeth Thompson said she and husband David were stunned to be told by neighbours on Tuesday that one option would go through their property – their home of nine years.

“It’s going to get hot in here in a moment in more ways than one,” she said.

The couple live in Wyndham St in Ashhurst and the first they knew of the option through their property was at lunchtime on Tuesday.

“At 1.30pm on Tuesday, a neighbour came to me and said my house is going to disappear, there were six or seven of us in our street who hadn’t been notified by NZTA,” Mr Thompson said.

Mr I’Anson agreed that was poor.

Woodville’s Murray Kirk, who lives on Old Gorge Rd, also told the Dannevirke News NZTA staff visited him and handed over a letter at 2pm on Tuesday.

“I was given the name of a communications person in NZTA and told to come to this meeting tonight,” he said.

As the business-case team, which includes Tararua District deputy mayor Allan Benbow, begin analysing the 13 options, Mr I’Anson said working at the fastest possible pace the team would come up with design, consenting and construction options for the preferred new route early next year.

With many people in the audience suggesting they wanted the short tunnel option first proposed by Mr Benbow, Mr I’Anson said the NZTA would need to work out where that tunnel would start and end.

“There are still slips at Barney’s Point and we need a resilient road,” he said.

Manawatu Gorge replacement

• 7500 vehicles used the gorge daily, with traffic growing, until it closed in April. Some 13 per cent were heavy vehicles.
• Four of the 13 options traverse the Ruahine Ranges, four cross the Tararua Ranges, two go through the existing gorge, there is also a viaduct and two tunnel options.
• Route distances range from 6km to 19km.
• Most options will require a bridge.
• Northern options have a gradient of between 6 and 7 per cent, and for southern options 8 per cent.
• Currently all options over the ranges will go through a windfarm.
• The NZTA is trying to develop an option which will bypass windfarms.

Police chase cash and property from Auckland Transport corruption case

Police are moving to seize property, cars and cash worth $8.6 million from a couple associated with corruption at Auckland Transport.

Stephen Borlase, a former director of Projenz, which undertook contract work for Auckland Transport, was jailed earlier this year, along with Murray John Noone, a former director of transportation at the Rodney District Council and later an AT employee.

Auckland Transport later revealed six other staff left their jobs after investigations into the corruption began.

Police have not named who they are targeting, but said they launched civil proceedings under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act and were looking for restraining orders against a 53-year-old man and his wife “for his criminal activities relating to bribery and corruption.”

Court records show that Borlase is due to appear in the Auckland High Court on the same day the civil proceedings are scheduled to come before the court: October 11.

Police are chasing property including real estate in Mt Eden, a commercial property and a beach house in the Coromandel, motor vehicles including a 2015 Mercedes, Jeep Cherokee and a classic Ford Fairlane and cash in bank accounts.

Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Allan said police investigated and aimed to remove unlawful benefits from those who engage in significant criminal activity.

“This investigation is another great example of the joint Government approach in relation to proceeds of crime with the New Zealand Police, Serious Fraud Office and Auckland Transport working closely together.

“It also highlights how effective the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act can be applied not only to drugs, cash and firearms instances, but top end financial crime that also negatively impacts on our community and New Zealand’s financial reputation.”

It follows a successful Serious Fraud Office prosecution of several people associated with AT – the country’s largest bribery case.

The Serious Fraud Office warned at the time the case had not been completely closed and corruption required a toxic culture to grow.

Borlase and Noone stood trial over eight weeks last year, after pleading not guilty to bribery and corruption charges brought against them by the Serious Fraud Office.

Borlase was found guilty of eight charges of corruption or bribery of an official but not guilty of four charges of obtaining a document for pecuniary advantage.

Noone was found guilty of six charges of corruption or bribery of an official.

The offending took place between 2006 and 2013 relating to roading project consultation contracts Projenz carried out for RDC and AT.

At their sentencing in February, Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said the offending was on the upper end of the scale and had affected a large number of people.

It had also possibly affected New Zealand’s international reputation as a relatively corruption-free country.

“This type of offending isn’t shoplifting … it’s offending that goes to the heart of New Zealand’s public service and New Zealand’s international reputation,” Dickey said.

CentrePort ship-to-shore cranes resume work following temporary repair works

Regular container services resumed on Monday, after temporary repair work was completed on CentrePort’s two ...

Regular container services resumed on Monday, after temporary repair work was completed on CentrePort’s two ship-to-shore cranes.

Two giant cranes, which have been sitting idle on Wellington’s waterfront since the November quake, are back in action.

Temporary work on CentrePort’s 700-tonne gantry cranes have allowed the machines to return to pre-earthquake service levels, a CentrePort spokesman said.

The cranes, which load and unload container ships, were not damaged in the quake, however both jumped off the rails they sit on, with land beneath the cranes weakened.

CentrePort chief executive Derek Nind.

CentrePort chief executive Derek Nind.

For the past 10 months, the only ships able to unload directly at the port were ones with their own cranes, which was uncommon in New Zealand waters.

As a result, cargo bound for Wellington has been diverted to other ports such as Napier, and containers shifted by rail or truck to the capital.

CentrePort, owned by Wellington and Manawatu ratepayers, spent $28 million securing 125 metres of the 585-metre wharf, including doing temporary paving works.

A CentrePort spokesman said there were many technical and logistical obstacles, including a limited supply of key materials and challenging weather conditions.

Over 185 piles, made from more than a thousand tonnes of steel, have been driven about 40 metres into the soil.

In addition, 644 gravel columns have been set in the ground to reduce any liquefaction from future earthquakes and provide resilience to the temporary works.

The completion of the temporary works would enable more shipping lines to return to Wellington, linking regional businesses with international markets.

CentrePort chief executive Derek Nind​ said importers and exporters in central New Zealand would receive a “major boost”.

“Container shipping accounts for $1 billion of the $2.5b contribution made by the port to the regional economy, and supports about 8500 jobs.

“We know how important CentrePort’s container shipping is to central New Zealand’s economic competitiveness, [but] using alternative trade routes has increased domestic transport costs by up to 800 per cent for some businesses,” Nind said.

On Monday, the cranes started working on the Jens Maersk, part of Maersk Line’s Northern Star service.

Later this month, weekly visits by MSC Capricorn and the NZS/KIX service will also resume.

These will join the ANL Transtaz service, which has visited CentrePort weekly since February.

 – Stuff

Another world’s first for Wärtsilä – wireless charging for hybrid coastal ferry successfully tested

The technology group Wärtsilä has successfully tested its automatic wireless induction charging system on a hybrid powered coastal ferry. This is the first commercial ferry in the world operating with high power wireless charging capability for its batteries, and the successful project represents a notable breakthrough in the evolution of plug-in electrically operated vessels. The tests were carried out on the 85 metre long ‘MF Folgefonn’ in Norwegian waters during the end of August / early September of this year. The ferry is owned by Norled, one of Norway’s largest ferry operators.

Wireless charging eliminates the cable connection between the vessel and shore, thereby securing and facilitating safe connections and disconnections. It also reduces maintenance since wear and tear to physical connection lines is eliminated. The integrated Wärtsilä system is based on inductive power transfer and is capable of transferring more than a MW of electrical energy.

The Wärtsilä system is designed to maintain efficient power transfer at distances of 50 centimetres between the two charging plates built into the side of the vessel and the quay. No other wireless charging system is as powerful, or capable of maintaining the transfer of energy at such a distance.

Wärtsilä’s wireless charging system is the first in the world to operate successfully with a coastal ferry.

“During recent years, wireless charging has been introduced for cars, busses and trains. We have now made this possible for marine vessels. The main benefits for customers are up to 20 percent more utilisation of the available charging time, increased operational safety, and greater system reliability. There is an ongoing trend to equip coastal ferries with battery powered and hybrid propulsion since they are particularly affected by environmental regulatory demands. Wireless charging will, therefore, create considerable value for operators of hybrid ferries,” says Ingve Sørfonn, Senior Technical Officer E&A, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions.

“For Wärtsilä, this wireless charging revolution focuses on coastal ferries, a segment of the transportation industry that is well-suited to the technology because of short stop-and-go schedules. The wireless charger is an innovative and value adding new part of our hybrid solutions offering, which we shall continue to develop further in line with the needs of our customers,” says Cato Esperø, Sales Director, Wärtsilä Norway.

The project has been partly funded by Innovation Norway, a Norwegian funding institution.
Source: Wärtsilä

World’s First Conversion of Container Ship to Dual-Fuel Operation Concludes Successfully

At a recent event at the Hamburg offices of MAN Diesel & Turbo, Dr Uwe Lauber – CEO of MAN Diesel & Turbo – presented Gerd Wessels, Managing Owner of Wessels Reederei with a take-over certificate marking the formal conclusion of the ‘Wes Amelie’ LNG conversion project.

Gerd Wessels said: “This pioneering project marks a milestone in the European container feeder market, and MAN has impressively proven that existing engines can be converted to LNG operation with a tremendous effect on exhaust emissions and the environment.”

The project involved the retrofitting of the 1,036-teu feeder container ship’s MAN 8L48/60B main engine to a multi-fuel, four-stroke MAN 51/60DF unit that enables dual-fuel operation – the first such conversion of its type the world has ever seen.

Christian Hoepfner, General Manager of Wessels Reederei, said: “The ‘Wes Amelie’ operates in the highly regulated Nordic and Baltic Seas. Since they are both within Emission Control Areas, the ship needs to meet the highest environmental standards and strictest limits for emissions. By converting to a low emission fuel, we are safeguarding the future of this container ship as well as our own competitiveness in the market.”

Stefan Eefting – Head of MAN PrimeServ in Augsburg – also attended the ceremony and said: “We are very happy to have successfully completed this project with the great cooperation of our partner, Wessels Reederei. In doing so, we trust that the dramatic reduction in emissions will mark the beginning of a trend towards the adoption of LNG as an environmentally friendly fuel within the maritime sector.”

“By providing customers with the technology to retrofit their existing fleet, we are driving what we call the maritime energy transition”, adds Dr Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Diesel & Turbo. “There are roughly 40,000 cargo vessels in operation worldwide. If we are serious about decarbonisation and want the shipping industry to be climate neutral by 2050, we need to take action today.”

The dual-fuel conversion has enabled the ‘Wes Amelie’ to significantly reduce its SOx emissions by >99%, NOx by approximately 90%, and CO2 by up to 20%. The vessel now meets both the Tier II and Tier III emission requirements set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Works were carried out at German Dry Docks in Bremerhaven in cooperation with gas-specialist, TGE Marine Engineering, who provided tank and LNG components. Bureau Veritas, the international classification society based in France, classed the conversion.

Wessels and MAN Diesel & Turbo originally signed the retrofit contract at the Europort exhibition for maritime technology in November 2015. The ‘Wes Amelie’ was constructed in 2011 and has already re-entered service on its usual route between the North and Baltic Seas.
Source: Man Diesel & Turbo

Huge viaduct one of 13 proposals for Manawatu Gorge

A huge viaduct going through the Manawatu Gorge is one of 13 proposals to open up the choked transit way once and for all.

An aerial view of the slip near Woodville.

An aerial view of a slip near Woodville that closed the Manawatu Gorge. Photo: NZTA

The gorge has been blocked by several slips over the years and was closed indefinitely after a huge landslide in April proved too dangerous to fix.

The gorge carries State Highway 3 and is a vital link between the eastern and western sides of the North Island.

Its closure has forced heavy trucks and other traffic into huge detours or over narrow country lanes unfit for heavy vehicles.

If built, the viaduct would have something in common with the Otira viaduct, which opened up the frequently shut-down Arthur’s Pass route to all-weather transit.

Along with the viaduct option, there are two proposals involving tunnels.

One tunnel would be 10.5 kilometres long and be slightly to the south of the gorge.

Another option would incorporate part of the existing gorge road, at the eastern end, and need a shorter tunnel, just 6km long.

Another dramatic option would be a straight road dug deep into a cutting running to the south of the gorge.

Other alternatives involve roads running though the hills to the north or to the south of the gorge.

To the south, there is a new 17km route, from Napier Road on State Highway 3 to SH2 near Woodville.

Three other routes go over the hills from one side of the divide to the other in the same area.

They are all near the existing Pahiatua Track.

Three other options involve connections built near the current Ashhurst Saddle Road, which is to the north of the existing highway through the gorge.

The last option would to upgrade the Saddle Road itself.

New Zealand Transport Agency regional transport systems manager Ross I’Anson said these options would now be presented to the people in the region.

“This is an important step towards finding the best performing option for an alternative route from the Manawatu to Hawke’s Bay, with the gorge route out of action because of slips and ongoing movement,” Mr l’Anson said.

“We know how keen people have been to see these options, and we’ve worked hard with our local partners to get to this point as quickly as possible.

“We’re now keen to hear from people about the options; what they like about particular alignments, what their concerns might be and any other feedback or suggestions they can provide.”

Mr I’Anson said once people had made their views known on the long list and further analysis had been completed, a short list of options would be produced by October along with cost estimates.

The final choice would be decided by December.

New report examines future of autonomous maritime systems

Maritime activity over the next decade will be dominated by unmanned surface and underwater vessels, according to a report on the future of autonomous maritime systems launched today.

Written and researched by Lloyd’s Register, QinetiQ and the University of Southampton, the report is a follow-up to Global Marine Technology Trends 2030, looking at how technology trends will impact upon the regulatory and social aspects of maritime operations.

Tim Kent, Technical Director, Marine and Offshore, Lloyd’s Register, said: “Networks of autonomous surface and underwater vessels are set to radically change the nature of maritime operations. Developments widely reported in the media, such as those in autonomous shipping, are happening with greater pace than expected as little as 2 years ago. These developments enabled by technology provide new opportunities and potential for disruptive business models. However, the principal challenges will be the integration of these autonomous systems into current maritime operations, legal and regulatory requirements, and not least the impact upon seafarers.”

Bill Biggs, Senior Campaign Leader for Autonomy, QinetiQ, said: “Technological advances in consumer and adjacent markets are a real opportunity for the maritime sector. Applied artificial intelligence, low cost low size sensors, increased connectivity, improved cyber security and better energy management are all likely to drive rapid and disruptive change. Trials already undertaken by navies and transport companies demonstrate the opportunities that autonomous maritime systems present. In 2016 QinetiQ supported Unmanned Warrior, the largest demonstration of its type ever conducted, running as part of a major multinational naval exercise. It’s just one example of the steps the UK is taking to keep up with the accelerating pace of change.”

Professor Ajit Shenoi, Director of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton, said: “The report recognises that autonomous systems and associated technologies will require people to learn to work seamlessly with them. Crew members of the future may become shore based, managing vessels remotely from the office or the sea, creating the need for new training and skillsets. The potential for the command and control to be geographically displaced from the vessel will also require behavioural and cultural changes within the maritime community.”

David Dingle CBE, Chairman of Maritime UK said: “I’m delighted that this timely and thought-provoking report is being launched during London International Shipping Week, demonstrating the UK’s preeminent role in cutting-edge innovation and thought leadership for our global industry. This thought leadership from three world-leading companies and educational institutions, coupled with exciting developments from leading manufacturers such as Rolls Royce, ASV and a wealth of small and medium size players, mean that the UK, the world’s maritime centre, really is leading the autonomy revolution.”
Source: Lloyd’s Register

Picton pegged for NZ’s largest dry dock

Shakespeare Bay, pictured, is being mooted as the most likely location for a new floating dry dock.

STUFF
Shakespeare Bay, pictured, is being mooted as the most likely location for a new floating dry dock.

A proposal to build New Zealand’s largest dry dock in Picton could create hundreds of jobs and provide a “massive benefit” for shipping in the country.

Port Marlborough is investigating the feasibility of establishing a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay, a deepwater port beside Picton Harbour.

The need for a new facility has been highlighted by the NZ Shipping Federation, whose director says “my guys would like it today, it couldn’t happen soon enough”.

The largest current dry dock, part of the Devonport Naval Base, in Auckland, was the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere when it was built in 1888 but is now too small to service many ships operating in New Zealand waters.

All five Cook Strait ferries, other large commercial boats and the HMNZS Canterbury have to go to navy dry docks in Sydney, or further afield to Singapore, for regular maintenance and repairs.

Shakespeare Bay is already used by the logging industry.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
Shakespeare Bay is already used by the logging industry.

However, because the Australian dry dock was a navy operation New Zealand operators could struggle to secure a booking as preference was given to navy ships.

Shipping federation executive director Annabel Young said the fuel cost for the month-long return journey to Singapore was about $500,000.

“Every time you put a vessel into a dry dock you’re looking at millions of dollars of expenditure,” she said.

Installing a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay could potentially create hundreds of jobs in Picton.

Installing a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay could potentially create hundreds of jobs in Picton.

A Defence Force spokesman said the annual cost of using overseas dry docks was commercially sensitive, but noted transit time was a significant additional cost.

Future ships including the recently-commissioned HMNZS Aotearoa would be too large to be serviced at Devonport, so the Defence Force agreed a new dry dock was needed.

The spokesman said it had partnered with Port Marlborough and the shipping federation to determine the feasibility of a facility at Shakespeare Bay capable of docking ships heavier than 10,000 tonnes and longer than 200 metres.

The Devonport dry dock, built in 1888, can take ships up to 170m in length and 22.5m wide.

STUFF
The Devonport dry dock, built in 1888, can take ships up to 170m in length and 22.5m wide.

“I think it’s got to the point of critical mass where people can see there’s a really good business case for a dry dock to be set up,” Young said.

The creation of a floating dry dock near Picton would be “absolutely huge” for the local economy but “how many hundreds of jobs it would create, I don’t know”, she said.

“The biggest benefit is you’d become a centre of engineering, all the trades you need to fix a ship, and in addition to that there would be accommodation needs for people that come off the ship.”

What will happen to the boat moorings in Shakespeare Bay?

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
What will happen to the boat moorings in Shakespeare Bay?

A large floating dry dock in New Zealand would save operators money, reduce carbon emissions, allow for urgent repairs and minimise the time ships, such as the ferries, were out of action, she said.

Young said it would also be used for in-water inspections and cleaning, and stop the need for the Ministry for Primary Industries to turn large ships away if their hulls required cleaning.

She said, ideally, the dry dock would cater for ships up to 240 metres long, adding it would be possible to secure a secondhand floating dry dock for between $60 to $80 million.

The Ovation of the Seas in Shakespeare Bay in January.

EVAN LAMBIE
The Ovation of the Seas in Shakespeare Bay in January.

Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith said he had been working with the port, the federation and the current and former Minister of Defence over the past two years to advocate for the project.

“The earthquake has highlighted the value of coastal shipping and the blue highway, and a vital part of that is making sure our ships are serviced here,” he said.

Smith said a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay made strategic sense, as it was located in the middle of the country and at one end of the Cook Strait ferry route.

A decommissioned navy ship gets water-blasted at the Calliope Dry Dock, part of the Devonport Naval Base, in Auckland. ...

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A decommissioned navy ship gets water-blasted at the Calliope Dry Dock, part of the Devonport Naval Base, in Auckland. (File photo)

“Are we there yet? No. But I think it’s got to the point where the business case is so strong and the strategic case is so strong that it will happen,” Smith said.

The Kaikōura MP also pointed to the economic opportunities a dry dock would create for Marlborough, estimating it would create more than 100 jobs, with more in associated service industries.

“It would have a massive benefit for New Zealand, from a strategic and an economic point of view, and at a provincial or local level the economic benefits would be massive,” he said.

A KiwiRail spokesman said the most recent dry docking of an Interislander ferry was in April, when the Kaitaki was sent to Sydney for two-yearly maintenance.

However, the Aratere was sent to Singapore last year, causing the ferry to be out of action for two months due to travel time and time spent in the dry dock.

“Naturally we would like to see a dry dock in New Zealand,” the spokesman said.

“There would be a significant benefit for Interislander and therefore its customers in having a large dry dock capable of accommodating its ships here.”

Port Marlborough chief executive Ian McNabb said the port had been looking at the option of establishing a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay for “quite some time”.

“We’ve looked at it for all sorts of reasons, and we’re currently working with a couple of companies in relation to looking at the feasibility of the project,” he said.

Shakespeare Bay was the best option for a floating dry dock because of its central location, and natural depth which meant less, or no dredging would be required, he said.

McNabb said it would have enormous benefits for New Zealand and for Marlborough, in terms of job creation and the ability to conduct more frequent maintenance.

“From a regional point of view there’s all the flow-on effects of having a major industrial facility based in New Zealand and not overseas,” he said.

“If the demand is there, it will happen.”

 – The Marlborough Express

Limited opportunity for lower freight emissions from coastal shipping and rail, says MoT

Coastal shipping and rail have less potential in the drive to reduce carbon emissions. Photo / 123RF

Coastal shipping and rail have less potential in the drive to reduce carbon emissions from the transport sector than the optimistic view expressed in a Productivity Commission issues paper on decarbonising the New Zealand economy, says the Ministry of Transport in a submission to the commission’s inquiry.

“We concur with your assessment that electric vehicles (EVs) are by the far greatest emissions abatement opportunity New Zealand has to lower transport emissions,” says the two-page response to the issues paper sent on September 4 by Joanna Pohau, the ministry’s acting manager, people and environment.

However, the ministry is less optimistic about the potential for coastal shipping and rail to move freight out of road-based trucking, mainly because so much of New Zealand’s freight ‘task’ involves sending goods over short distances and because customers have come to expect ‘just-in-time’ deliveries that ships and trains struggle to fulfil.

“Much of our freight moves over short distances,” the ministry says. “This is a movement that is typically only economic for road freight. As well, some cargo, for example liquid milk, best suits being moved by road” and “not all locations have access to rail and/or coastal shipping.”

The ministry expects that lower emissions from long-haul freight operations will emerge from a combination of some cargoes shifting to shipping and rail, greater collaboration among cargo owners, more fuel efficient trucks, increased use of bio-fuels and, ultimately, “adopting new fuel and vehicle technologies as they arise”.

This could include electric heavy long-haul trucks “if they become available”.

The submission coincides with the announcement of an EV car-sharing scheme in Christchurch that its backers claim is the largest in the Southern hemisphere.

From late November, some 70 of an eventual fleet of 100 EVs will be available for Canterbury businesses and residents through fleet management company Yoogo, which has been selected by Christchurch City Council to implement the services.

The company’s “electric car sharing model breaks down barriers around cost and charging infrastructure, making pure electric vehicles accessible and affordable,” Kirsten Corson, Yoogo general manager, said in a statement.

The service will be available for the CCC, Ara Institute, engineering firms Aurecon and Beca, the Canterbury District Health Board, law firm Chapman Tripp, Environment Canterbury, Meridian Energy, architects Tonkin and Taylor, and Warren and Mahoney, and, Christchurch Airport, as well as for the general public.

In its submission, MoT agrees with the Productivity Commission’s suggestion that “current policy settings may need to be revisited if we are to achieve a widespread uptake of EVs” and endorses setting fuel efficiency standards as one route to achieve that.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced late last month that the government was setting a target of one-in-three of the government’s car fleet being EVs by 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auckland

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

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

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

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

Tauranga

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

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

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

Northland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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