9 Apr 2016

'Mad' Muriwai move still on Ports table

8:42 am on 9 April 2016

Relocating near the small settlement of Muriwai is still being considered an option for Ports of Auckland in a move the company itself has labelled "mad".

Ports of Auckland

Ports of Auckland Photo: RNZ

A working group has released its shortlist of options being considered to handle Auckland's long-term freight and cruise ship needs over the coming decades.

Options chosen for further analysis are:

  • Option One - constrain Auckland's port to its current central city footprint
  • Option Two - let the port grow at its current location
  • Option Three - move the port in the mid to long term to Manukau Harbour, Firth of Thames (Auckland region), or Muriwai.

The Ports Future Study was set up by Auckland mayor Len Brown and in February released a long-list of possible new homes for the port.

The shortlist released yesterday does away with the ideas of shifting the port's activities to Whangarei or Tauranga.

Working Group chairman Rick Boven said each of the three options now identified had complex challenges and implications, and some of them would likely be too expensive.

"Out important next steps are to get feedback from the study's larger Reference Group, complete the cost benefit analysis of remaining options and test the assumptions of that analysis by peer review." he said.

Muriwai Beach

Muriwai Beach Photo: RNZ/ Kim Baker Wilson

Dr Boven said Auckland was expected to have a population of at least 2.6 million in the next five decades, with freight trade potentially quadrupling over the same time.

"Auckland will need a strategy to ensure freight can flow for continued trade and prosperity," Dr Boven said.

Muriwai remaining as a possible location for the Ports of Auckland has baffled Rodney Local Board member Phelan Pirrie.

"I don't know how you'd do it ... the conditions on the west coast are not conducive to building a port, it's not a port area - it's not a harbour, it's exposed, it's challenging conditions, it's a regional park," he said.

"I just can't even begin to imagine."

The Ports of Auckland bills itself as the country's largest container port, handling more than 818,000 20-foot equivalent container units each year.

It said it handles cargo equivalent to 13 percent of the country's total GDP, but had been one of the first to pan the idea of moving to Muriwai.

On Twitter, the Ports of Auckland said it was a mad idea for its operations to move to Muriwai and "murder all the gannets".

The Ports of Auckland is 100 percent owned by Auckland Council.

When the long-list was released this year, councillor Mike Lee called some of the suggestions "batty" and said there should be a focus on making the current port more efficient without expanding it.

Port Future Study is due to be completed in June, and will then be used to help with future decisions made by Auckland Council.