What are the Problems of Moving Auckland Port to Northland

3-minute read (6-minute listen)

Guyon Espiner:  New Zealand First is suggesting to move the Ports of Auckland to Northland. This has been met with some scepticism, particularly from the National Party. We had Simon Bridges on the program a little earlier.

Labour’s Phil Twyford was also unwilling to commit the Labour Party to the move. Let’s talk now, though, to a shipping industry commentator, Dave MacIntyre. Good morning to you, Dave!

Full Audio Interview (transcription below): 

Dave MacIntyre:  Good morning, Guyon!

Guyon Espiner:  What do you think of this move?

Dave MacIntyre:  Well, from a pure freight perspective, the port’s best suited where it is. The whole point of having the port within Auckland is to serve the greater Auckland region, and about three-quarters of the imports that come through the Ports of Auckland stay within the greater Auckland region.

If you take the port further away, you’re adding distance and cost to delivering imports to the New Zealand market .

So the further away from Auckland, from a freight perspective, it doesn’t make sense. But really, the drivers behind this is the wishes of Auckland, is to reclaim as much of the harbour side as they can.

Guyon Espiner:  75% of freight that comes into that harbour stays in the greater Auckland region, is that what you said?

Dave MacIntyre:  I think that’s correct. Auckland is New Zealand’s major import port.

So, on the one hand, is that the majority is shipping lines that serve New Zealand would initially go to Auckland, offload their import cargoes, and then start heading south, and then make their final export call either at Tauranga or possibly in Auckland. But basically, Auckland is the principal import port.

So if you want to move that port to somewhere more distant, then obviously, you’re adding both time and cost to getting those goods delivered. The other big thing about the idea of moving it to Northland is the question of having a rail link .

That port is not currently rail-served. So basically, that would be a prerequisite because otherwise, you’re asking a new port to handle something like 800,000 TEUs, that’s 800,000 containers, without being able to rail them.

Guyon Espiner:  So sorry, these numbers are important to get a size of the scale. 800,000 containers over what period?

Dave MacIntyre:  Well, that’s the kind of throughput in Auckland in a year.

Guyon Espiner:  In a year. 800,000 containers.

Dave MacIntyre:  Well, it’s 800,000 TEUs, which is a 20-foot container. So 40-footers would count as two. But basically, that’s the kind of import/export task at the Ports of Auckland.

So if the port was moved in its entirety, then another port would have to handle exactly that quantity with the prospect of growth in the future.

Guyon Espiner:  Okay. And very roughly on your numbers because I’m just doing this on the fly, but something in the order of 600,000 containers, that is the thick end of three-quarters of your input, you’re just adding 2 or 300 kilometres on to the journey for those containers.

What are the Problems of Moving Auckland Port to Northland 2

Dave MacIntyre:  Yeah, well, the 800,000 would include export containers. That’s what its turnover is. But regarding any import container which now comes into Auckland, if that’s moved to Northport as the gateway port, then obviously, that’s got to go that distance.

The other thing to bear in mind is that Auckland acts as an import hub for regions to the south as well. 

And then the other thing is to consider the export cargoes that go through Auckland.

So let’s say if Auckland is acting as the export gateway for anything coming south of Auckland, or perhaps from the Waikato, wherever, then it makes the attractiveness of going to Northport less because an alternative port such as Tauranga becomes a better option.

So from a freight point of view alone, the idea of moving the port out of Auckland doesn’t stack up.

Guyon Espiner:  Thanks for your time this morning. I appreciate it. That was Dave MacIntyre, who’s a shipping industry commentator, talking about this pledge or policy to move the Port of Auckland to Northland from New Zealand First.

Source: Radio New Zealand

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