The chief executive of the Port of Tauranga says it will vigorously challenge an appeal against its dredging consents.
The port says the $80 million project to deepen and widen the harbour to cater for bigger vessels is expected to start later next year.
Last month, the High Court rejected local hapu Ngati Ruahine's legal move against the plan. Last week, however, the hapu said it was lodging a claim with the Court of Appeal.
The port's chief executive, Mark Cairns, says the four-year process to get the consents has been challenging so he hopes the appeal can be resolved quickly.
Once the consent has been finally approved, he says, the dredging will be carried out in several stages. It had been hoped to start the first stage towards the end of next year.
Mr Cairns says the Shippers' Council estimates $338 million will flow from bigger ships operating on South-east Asian trade routes.
Shares in the port company were unchanged at $12.95 each on Thursday.