The Herald editorial:
Council should give clear message to port company The Auckland port company is proving very slow to get a simple message: the Waitemata is not to be narrowed. The harbour is still wide enough between the wharves and Devonport to retain its visual splendour but it is not so wide that it can continue to accommodate wharf extensions without losing much its expansive character.
If the city is not very careful it could discover, too late, that yet another incremental reclamation (one is already underway) has reduced the harbour entrance to a shipping channel and Auckland, quite suddenly, is less scenic.
How hard can it be for the port company to understand this? Having failed to get extended reclamations written into the Auckland Council’s 30-year plan last year, the company has come back this year trying to get a smaller extension written into the council’s 10-year unitary plan.
But really the council is to blame. Instead of giving its wholly owned company a clear message the first time around that no further encroachment on the Waitemata can be contemplated, the council prevaricated. It promised to review a range of development options for the port.
I feel sorry for the current Ports of Auckland management. It is not their fault they have inherited the Port on the location it is in. But my view is that their current location is an awful place for a commercial port, as is Wellington’s Centreport location. The power of the status quo may mean that it is never economic to move them, but the reality is that trying to expand on their current locations is just a very bad idea.
Auckland’s port serves the country’s largest population centre. It is hardly going to disappear if its wharves are not long enough for the next generation of cargo ships. If those ships went instead to Marsden Pt or Tauranga fewer containers would be hauled into the city. But if Ports of Auckland wants to accommodate bigger ships it must find room within its present area. The council should say so.