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Port boss quits amid criticism

The chief executive officer at Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) is stepping down at the end of June 2021.
Posted on 20 May, 2021
Port boss quits amid criticism

Tony Gibson says it has been a “difficult decision” to make, and described the council-controlled company as “an organisation full of absolutely wonderful people doing amazing things”.

However, he adds: “Over the past few months, there have been persistent and sometimes personal attacks on me as CEO. This focus on me is damaging to the company and the great people that I work with. 

“It is taking our focus off what is really important – delivering change. I can’t let that continue, so for the sake of our people and the good work that they do, I’ve decided to step down.

“As I go, I want to pay tribute to the people of POAL. This is a company that’s often in the media in a bad way – over port expansion, port location or, more recently, over safety and congestion.

“Sadly, there is little media attention on great things our people have achieved in the past 10 years.”

Bill Osborne, chairman of POAL’s board, says: “Tony has been a transformational CEO over the past 10 years. 

“His vision, drive, skills, and leadership have been essential in delivering the change that was desperately needed when he started in 2011.

“I’m sad to lose someone of his calibre, especially at a time when the company is again going through major change. However, I understand and accept his reasons and wish him well.”

Gibson, pictured, says POAL has been transformed from the business that couldn’t afford to invest in necessary infrastructure to one which has earned hundreds of millions of dollars for Aucklanders. 

He says his staff have successfully delivered multiple projects, such as the new deep-water container wharf, a new car-handling building and three container handling cranes.

“There is more diversity in the business, with more women in stevedoring here than at any other port in the country,” adds Gibson.

“Our people are innovative and have put into practice many ideas that have made our workplace safer and more effective. 

“They are passionate about sustainability, leading the way in zero-emissions technology with our hydrogen project and Sparky, the world’s first battery-powered ship-handling tug.

“Auckland is the first port in New Zealand to automate, and our people are doing it in an innovative way. The project will deliver the capacity the city needs while at the same time protecting the Waitematā Harbour from more reclamation.

“The focus on improving safety will continue. The right people are in place to make sure that’s successful. 

“Change will come and the people of POAL will overcome the current difficulties in the business and go onto lead New Zealand’s port sector once again.”

Deputy CEO and CFO Wayne Thompson will be interim CEO until a new chief executive is appointed.