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Northport’s vision for growth includes 1390 m of linear berth – more than twice its current length – and growing its overall footprint

Northport marks 15th anniversary with vision for growth

Northport is marking its 15th anniversary by launching a public discussion about the potential future size and shape of the port.

The port company is also marking a number of milestones: cargo volumes at Marsden Point have more than doubled since the port opened in 2002 to a record 
3.64 million tonnes in the last financial year. Ship calls have increased from 93 a year to 250 a year over that period, with berth occupancy now at a record 66.4%, up from 52.9% just five years ago.

The company has published its ‘vision for growth’ online and is inviting people to ask questions or make their views known to its management team via the website. Chief executive Jon Moore stresses that the vision is not a confirmed plan, or even a formal proposal. No decision has yet been made by Northport’s board to grow the port.

“It’s a conversation starter: a vision based on what we believe is possible here,” he says. “At this early stage all we’re doing is prompting a discussion among tangata whenua, other Northlanders, our neighbours, customers, port users, suppliers and other stakeholder groups with an interest in what happens here, about what role they see Northport playing in the future of our region.”

Wrong perceptions

Mr Moore says that in recent years, and particularly in the run-up to the recent general election, there has been much discussion about what should happen at Northport. Although the port company has no firm growth plans at this stage, its management team want to make public their vision for future growth.

“Some of the most frustrating narrative we’ve listened to over recent months has been around the perception that it’s not possible to grow Northport beyond its existing size,” Mr Moore says. “Our vision for growth demonstrates clearly that this is not the case. It introduces some reality to the discussion and shows that we are, in fact, well positioned to support economic growth, both in Northland and in Auckland.”

Mr Moore says Northport will need to grow if it is going to play a key role in the future growth of the upper North Island.

“Importantly, we don’t need to expand northwards into the harbour. Instead, we can extend our existing linear wharf east and west,” he explains.

A complex undertaking

Northport’s vision for growth at Marsden Point includes 1390 m of linear berth – more than twice its current length – and involves growing its overall footprint from 48 ha to 75 ha. Mr Moore says his team feel this is necessary if Northport is to play a meaningful role in developing Northland’s economy and supporting Auckland’s growth.

“Growing a port is an expensive and complex undertaking. To support economic growth and meet the forecast demand for shipping across the upper North Island, we need to plan and build for the future, not just today,” he notes.

The vision Northport is making public is based on many years of research, technical planning and engineering input from a raft of experts in this field. The company now has a good idea about what is physically and technically possible at Northport, and what isn’t.

And it has not put any dates to its decision-making process around possible growth. “We know full well that what we look like in the future will be shaped to some extent by our communities and our customers,” Mr Moore says. “So first we want to hear from these groups about what role they see us playing in Northland’s and the upper North Island’s growth.”

This initial discussion period will be followed by further technical and environmental studies and modelling, and if there are no surprises the company will then embark on a detailed stakeholder consultation exercise.

About Northport

Northport, situated at Marsden Point at the mouth of the Whangarei Harbour, is New Zealand’s northernmost port. The port is owned and operated by the Northport company, itself owned jointly and equally by Marsden Maritime Holdings and Port of Tauranga. It is a flexible facility catering for large, multi-purpose vessels, and full cargo handling facilities are available from its 570 m linear berth.

Logs, woodchip and processed timber for export comprise the bulk of cargo processed by the port. Other export items include kiwifruit, dairy products and manufactured goods. Imports are an important part of Northport’s business and include fertiliser, gypsum, coal and palm kernel. Northport has full container handling capability, including a mobile harbour crane.

For further information, visit www.vision4growth.co.nz

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