Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has addressed rumours around the sale of the Ports of Auckland, saying he wants to see the port relocated in order to free up the land for the public.
“I want to progress plans to relocate the port from the city-centre waterfront and free up 77 hectares of land for public use. This has always been my bottom line,” Goff posted on Facebook last night.
“I don’t decide whether the port is sold or not, it will be a decision made by all Councillors. Councillors can only decide the future of the Port company once we have a better idea of where it will located and options for meeting the costs of relocation.”
Goff told RNZ’s Checkpoint last night that he wants “a clear plan for the port overtime to relocate,” but stressed that he was only one voice at a 21-seat council.
“During the campaign, I stated a very clear position that overtime, I wanted the port moved from the central business district of Auckland, and I wanted Aucklanders to regain access to… the harbour,” he added.
“It’s probably the most valuable real estate in New Zealand we have at the moment, and we use it to park cars and containers.”
The Ports Future Study, published in July last year, presented Manukau Habour and the Firth of Thames as possible future locations for the port. The Auckland mayor rejected the South Auckland site, saying it was on the wrong coast for most shipping lines, and with a shallow harbour and bar, would have to be constantly dredged.
“The port is thinking more realistically the option would be in the Firth of Thames,” he said last night, adding that the move would take twenty years to complete.
Goff also addressed rumours swirling amongst merchant banking circles in Auckland that an IPO for the Ports of Auckland was on the table. The Ports of Auckland spokesman Mat Ball confirmed to journalists that the company was discussing separating the land from the port earlier this week.
“I think the port company is looking at that,” Goff said. “That’s not my starting point. Where we reach agreement is they see some value in separating the port operating company and the land.”
The Ports of Auckland is the major site of vehicles being shipped to New Zealand, taking 90 per cent of total vehicle imports in the last six months of 2016.