Working group recommends Ports of Auckland move to Northport

A working group, led by former Northland mayor Wayne Brown, has recommended moving Auckland’s port to Northport on Whangārei Harbour.

Ports of Auckland (file picture). Source:

The Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISC) was commissioned by the Government to undertake a review of New Zealand’s freight and logistics sector for the Upper North Island, including ports.

The independent group has recommended the Ports of Auckland be closed in favour of a $10.3 billion relocation to Northport at Marsden Point, with the continued operation of the Port of Tauranga.

UNISC says 62 per cent of Aucklanders polled by the group believe that moving the port would make Auckland a better place to live, work and visit.

However Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff, says more work is needed on the Port strategy.

“Like most Aucklanders I am in favour of moving the port, but we won’t simply give away our assets built up by ratepayers over generations.

“Relocation needs to be stacked up economically and protect the interests of Aucklanders. It will also need to be undertaken with industry support and without imposing additional economic and environmental costs on Auckland businesses and consumers from freight being moved over much longer distances,” says Mr Goff.

The Mayor said much more stakeholder engagement is needed to ensure a robust final report is developed by the working group.

“While Auckland Council made submissions on the original proposal, we and other stakeholders, including the shipping companies and the Ports themselves, have not had further input into this report."

The second interim report by the group provided a number of reasons for the suggested closure, the main points being:

• It promotes resilience in the supply chain by providing two distinct North and South entry points for international freight originating in and destined for Auckland.

• It reduces levels of friction in the Auckland CBD which is currently a congested entry point for freight out of Ports of Auckland and provides two alternative entry points into the city;

• Friction with urban personal transport and regional deliveries could be further reduced by a dedicated freight rail line through the Avondale corridor connecting the two main freight hubs.

• It allows for alternative use of the Auckland waterfront land, and returns the harbour to the people which helps Auckland to achieve its ambition of becoming a more “liveable city”. 62 percent of Aucklanders, polled on behalf of the working group, believe that moving the port would make Auckland a better place to live, work and visit.

• It potentially improves road safety by increasing rail freight capacity.

• It promotes opportunities for regional development and employment in Northland and supports further growth in the Bay of Plenty.

• It maintains levels of competition in the Upper North Island Supply Chain, fosters innovation and cost effectiveness/efficiency of freight delivery.

• It maximises the use of the existing port system and the availability of surrounding land at Northport, noting potential alignment with other strategic projects such as a new drydock and rail staging for NZ refinery in west Auckland.

• We consider the Upper North Island can be effectively serviced by the existing ports without the need for the significant capital investment and development required to create a new port.