Port Expansion Plans – More Information

Posted by on Jan 26, 2012 | 2 Comments

What is going on with Auckland’s waterfront?


The Ports of Auckland’s expansion plans have been in the public domain for more than a year but unless you know what you’re looking for, they’re hard to find and recognise.


While the Draft City Centre Masterplan has many glossy photos showing potential new developments in the city, there’s nothing about the Port’s expansion plans.


Plans to expand the container wharves have been around since 1989 when the port company and regional authorities agreed on setting aside an area of harbour for port use. This has been granted resource consent.


The first step in the process for gaining approval to proceed with this expansion is that the current Auckland Plan receives Council support. Council workshops discussing the plan begin next week.


The port has worked in conjunction with Waterfront Auckland, which is a council entity, to develop what it wants to do. The Draft Waterfront Plan talks about ensuring “that Auckland makes the most of the opportunities afforded by the waterfront, the superb natural setting and sparkling Waitemata Harbour, as the heart of New Zealand’s global city”.


The Mayor’s vision is to make Auckland the “world’s most liveable city”. Leading Aucklanders say the expansion proposed in the plans seems inconsistent with this philosophy.


Waterfront Auckland has what it calls a ‘working waterfront’ as one of its four goals for the harbour edge.


The image below mentions many exciting projects but there is no mention of a port expansion and the image certainly doesn’t show what a ‘working waterfront’ might look like in 30 years’ time.


Action 1: Develop/enhance Westhaven as the Pacific’s premier marina destination

Action 2: Preserve and expand the marine and super yacht industry at Wynyard Quarter

Action 3: Enhance the existing Fishing Village on Jellicoe Street as the focul point for the fishing industry

Action 4: Develop the central wharves as ther city’s gateway for cruise operations

Action 5: Integrate the connection/relationship between the Port and the city and improve port efficiency


It is interesting to note also that the port has said it will sell Captain Cook Wharf back to Auckland so it can be developed for public use. Remember, the port is 100% owned by the Auckland Council…i.e. the ratepayers.


However, the release of Captain Cook wharf is conditional upon gaining consent for the future extension of Bledisloe wharf. While resource consents have yet to be obtained, the approval of the plan in its current form is the first step to approving these expansion plans. It is also dependent on the construction of replacement storage facilities for customers who are currently serviced at Captain Cook, most notably a five storey carpark to service the imported car industry.


So…Auckland gets Captain Cook wharf and the port gets a bigger Bledisloe which equates to a land area around 16 times larger.


The council votes on the plans in late March. It’s not too late to make your opinions heard.


Public submissions on the draft Auckland waterfront plan closed on 31 October however the council is due to consider the plan in February with a final vote in late March.




Where did the information about the port expansion come from?

The port expansion plans are found in technical documents supporting the Waterfront Draft Plan. They are also published in the Ports of Auckland (POAL) Port Development Plan and on their website.


Where did the before and after images of the port come from? What information are they based on?

The images are produced by a commercial company experienced in producing accurate landscape simulations.


How can you be sure the images are an accurate reflection of what expansion changes will look like?

The images are to a consentable quality. They are scaled off the port’s own plans.


What is council’s involvement in the expansion plans?

The Auckland Council owns Ports of Auckland and is also the governing body that must approve the port’s plans. Once they pass the plans contained in the Auckland Draft Plan, a case can be made that they have been consulted on so subsequently it is difficult to have them modified.


Why is there no mention of the POAL expansion plans in the Draft Waterfront Plan (part of the greater Draft Auckland Plan)

No-one is quite sure…we asked that question too. We assume POAL will claim the single image contained within the City Centre masterplan (p 177) and the Auckland Waterfront plan spell out the expansion. This is despite the fact the plan claims that “the Port will continue to develop largely on its current footprint” (p13).


What can I do to voice my opinion on the plans?

Unfortunately, public submissions on the Draft Plan closed on 31 October 2011.

There is a Facebook page at ( www.facebook.com/yourportyourcall ) where your opinion can be heard. ‘Like’ the page to show you support a re-think on the port’s expansion and share it with others you think should be informed.


You can also write to Mayor Brown and Ports of Auckland chair Richard Pearson and copy the NZ Herald and your local paper.  The New Zealand Herald is also running a feedback forum on its website www.nzherald.co.nz


Council is currently considering the submissions to this plan prior to adopting it at the end of March and we do know from past experience that a vocal public response is effective in changing the direction of these plans – it is late, but it’s not too late! 


When is the port expansion happening?

The council votes to approve the draft plan in late March. Construction of the expansion would be a long term process that could go on for 30 years or more. Once the expansion is consented the port is legislatively protected and entitled to proceed with the expansion. The ability to overturn the consent is extremely difficult and expensive.


What is the council approval process?

The Auckland Council owns POAL and is also the body that must approve the port’s plans. The council goes in to closed-door meetings to discuss the plan in February. Councillors vote on the district plan in late March and if it’s approved in principle, the port’s plans will be very difficult to stop.


What authority does Ports of Auckland have to do this?

The Port has gained a designation called PMA1 for this expansion programme. A designation is a precursor to gaining a resource consent. There are many similar designations across Auckland for large infrastructure projects that protect areas for potential development. Typically they are for mortorways and rail tracks but in most cases they are just that – protection – this does not mean the city needs to exercise the right to develop them. Once designated, POAL then needs its plans approved by council – which itself owns the company – and that’s why it’s important for Auckland citizens to make their voices heard.


How much new space do they want?

If approved by council, the container terminal will be greatly increased in size – so much so there will be a 400 per cent increase in container traffic – from the existing 890,000 containers p.a. to 3.5 million p.a. The size equates to 267,000 sq m or 16 x the size of Eden Park.


Will a port expansion mean bigger ships in the harbour?

Yes. The largest container vessels that use the Auckland Port carry 4,100 containers. The new generation of container vessels due to arrive in Auckland will carry 7,000 containers. They are 320 metres long. The larger cranes required to service them are 96 metres tall (more than 25 storeys high). They can only be berthed at high tide but there will need to be some dredging at the port’s edge so they can remain berthed at low tide.


Surely increased traffic and business is good for the city?

No one is opposed to increased business but Heart of the City and others are opposed to the port expansion as it is currently proposed. There are substantial corollary implications for Auckland e.g. the greater demand for container traffic on our roads and rail. Note that within the port’s plan it has made the case for tax- and ratepayer funded road and rail infrastructure ‘terminating at the Port’ currently estimated at $1.7 billion.  We also believe that some 30% of the existing containers landed at the port are transhipments which could be readily handled by another North Island port rather than on a CBD waterfront.


Why haven’t we heard about this before?

That’s a question better asked of both the council and the port company. While the Draft Auckland Plan has plenty of glossy pictures showing planned future development for the city, for some reason there is no real detail about the port’s expansion plans. You can see the wharves are bigger but there is no mention of expansion plans in any of the accompanying captions.


What has this got to do with the current waterfront strikes?

Ports management has confirmed that is it gearing for growth – and that growth will be reliant at least in part on the port pushing through its expansion plans. The current labour situation is a short term issue and most people anticipate it will be resolved this year by the ports management and the union. But the expansion plans are a long term issue with wide ranging corollary implications for the shape of our waterfront and traffic to and from the port – the expansion plans are an issue of trusteeship of the Port AND of our waterfront and city which is why the decisions here need to be made by council.



How much will the expansion cost Auckland ratepayers?

We simply don’t know at this stage. Note that within the port’s plan it has made the case for tax- and ratepayer funded road and rail infrastructure ‘terminating at the Port’ currently estimated at $1.7 billion.


What’s Mayor Brown’s position on this?

We understand the mayor supports the district plan in general and can only assume he must also be aware of the port’s growth plans. But specifically we have not been able to get a firm answer as to whether or not he supports the port’s expansion plans.


How long is the development going to take?

Work could go on for 30 years or more. Do you want your waterfront to be crammed with containers, construction trucks and roading restrictions for the next 30 years? Especially when some experts maintain the expansion of container traffic can be easily accommodated between Northland, Auckland and Bay of Plenty ports.


Why does the port company need all this new space?

That’s a question for the port company. There is some information here http://tinyurl.com/7c68f9band here http://tinyurl.com/7tau6zwbut there is little mention of the extent of the expansion. Certainly, there are no images illustrating the extraordinary expansion into the Waitemata Harbour. It’s clearly not in the port’s interest to show Aucklanders how expansion will substantially change the visual landscape of their city.


Where can I find out more about what the ports have planned?

In all the documents associated with the council’s Auckland plan there appears to be only one that shows some of the expansion and even on that plan there is no mention that the company wants to expands its wharves so dramatically. The POAL website does however show the expansion plans in a document titled Port Development Plan 2008.


Why are you objecting to the port’s plans?

The harbour is a jewel in Auckland’s crown. It’s our playground. We all share a responsibility to enhance and protect our natural assets and pass them on as best as we can to future generations. We are not owners of the land – we are custodians of it for generations to come.  Aucklanders deserve to have a say on one of its precious assets.  The plans run roughshod over so many principles Aucklanders hold dear to their hearts – access to the waterfront; recreational use of the harbour; views of the harbour from the city and Parnell and city views from the North Shore. The spotlight needs to go on what the port is trying to do so that Aucklanders are fully informed and can have their say on port expansion – before it’s too late.


Are you opposed to all Port development?

No – the port is a valuable part of the Auckland and NZ economy and no-one is interested in standing in the way of progress. But the council has only been presented one expansion plan, which will have a significant impact on waterfront access, infrastructure development and how Aucklanders and visitors view our harbour. We believe the council needs to be presented with more options which is why it should NOT approve the container wharf plans. An independent review will provide Aucklanders with a range of options for ports efficiency in the North Island.


  1. Angela and Michael Rose says:

    As Kiwi/Brits we are horrified by the port development plants. If allowed to go ahead, Auckland would no longer the most liveable city in the world, but like Hong Kong. Move the existing container port elsewhere where the environmental damage would be less and the rail/road system serving the container requirement would be less

  2. HM Rose says:

    The entire container port should be move elsewhere and replaced by a well designed cruise terminal. Only with the removal of what is a blight on the marine landscape will Auckland fulfill the mayor’s vision of making it the most liveable city in the world.

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