High profile Aucklanders are reigniting a proposal to move operations at the Ports of Auckland to Northland's Northport.
Former Prime Ministers and mayors are among those supporting a new lobby group to petition the Goverment for the change after its main political backer — New Zealand First — is no longer in Government.
“I'd like to see more from my city than a waterfront with a second-hand car lot on it,” says former Prime Minister Helen Clark.
“For Northland, of course, tremendous boom to have a port expansion there. It needs rail expansion but you can envisage, you get rather more affordable housing in around a port development in the Northland area. So, it's got to be a win-win."
Sir John Key agrees.
“I don't think there would be many cities in the world that would go about building a car park on their prime real estate like that,” he says.
Businessman Wayne Brown is behind the lobby group and thinks operations should head north.
“It's not just the changing of the port, it's rescuing Auckland financially and visually and reclaiming the harbour and there's a large group behind me,” he says.
The Labour coalition Government commissioned a report into the future of the port.
Brown was involved in the report, and one of its findings was that Northport and Tauranga should share international shipping. Northport would then eventually take the major role.
The report also found that freeing up Auckland port land for commercial and residential use could generate $200 million a year.
“It's a glorious idea, and it's a practical idea, and it's a sensible idea for time. But it lacks, I guess, strategy,” said former Waitākere City Mayor Bob Harvey.
Despite speaking to more than 80 stakeholders and experts, Brown's report went largely ignored. Instead, the Government commissioned Australian consultants to draft another report.
Their findings were that the Manukau Harbour was best location for a new port.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says he is open to the idea of moving the port, but wants more work done to make sure it adds up.