A Letter to Auckland Council

A Letter in Concerns to Port of Auckland


Over the holidays and ever since the Port of Auckland industrial relations dispute blew up last year, I have been running extensive commentary here at VOAKL on POAL.

You can visit the commentary by clicking the Port of Auckland Index at the top of the page for an easy chronologically ordered list of posts by me on POAL.

A three-part mini-series into possible locations for Port of Auckland was posted here at VOAKL with me advocating for relocating the Port to South East Auckland. Through out the POAL saga I have been calling on Auckland Council to hold a formal enquiry into five questions that need answering in order to nurse our sickly port back to health. Now I have drawn up a formal letter to each individual Auckland Councillor as well as the CEO of Auckland Council and the Mayor of Auckland – Len Brown. These individual letters will be sent out over the course of next week after Anniversary Weekend – but in the mean time I have a master copy here embedded below. The letter outlines five questions others and myself would like answered in the POAL saga.

Furthermore as I have been called up to be at the Draft City Centre Master Plan Hearing Panel and hopefully for the Draft Waterfront Plan later on – I will continue to hammer the point home for the enquiry and options for Port of Auckland. Councillors Wood and Brewer – consider this a heads up.

I will leave you to read the letter as I head back into running The Draft Auckland Plan Series – especially as Auckland Council begins its deliberations and finalisations of The Auckland Plan.



Final in POAL Location Mini Series

Where I believe the Port Should Go

Over the past month VOAKL has been running a three part mini series into possible Port of Auckland Locations.

In recap these were the three options:

  1. Port stays where is, expands up to 250m into the Waitemata Harbour by 2055 and billions of dollars are sunk into improving transit links between the Port and inland operation bases such as Wiri Inland Port the Metro Port in Penrose
  2. Port relocates to South East Auckland near Clevedon. Entire new port, supporting infrastructure and urban development is built
  3. Port relocates outside of Auckland to Marsden Point up north and Port of Tauranga to the south east. Improvements to infrastructure such as the North Auckland Line, East Coast Main Trunk Line and several state highways are carried out. Logistics and inter-modal bases adapt to new movements and locations as required

After some weighing up and giving consideration to the consequences both positive and negative on all three option – in my honest opinion and for the sake of Auckland (let alone the rest of the country) relocating the Port of Auckland to South East Auckland would be the best option overall.

For what the South East Auckland Option curtailed read the post on it HERE which included maps.

The reason why I chose South East Auckland was due to the following:

  • Auckland still has a major port within its city limits
  • Port would be away from the CBD – by doing this you can achieve the following:Port and supporting logistics or inter-modal bases whether already in Auckland or they move to the new port site are at the southern end of Auckland. Being at the southern end allows quick access to the Waikato and further south as well as large industrial, residential and commercial bases that are housed in Southern Auckland – from Penrose/Onehunga/Mt Wellington; to Wiri, Manukau City and Auckland International Airport; to East Tamaki; to Papakura. To serve north-west and North Auckland, State Highway 20 and the Western Ring Route is available and bypasses State Highways One and Sixteen through the highly congested Central Auckland including the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
    • Open the entire Down-town waterfront to the public – allow public spaces as well as commercial and residential development
    • Constipation from The Eastern (Rail) Line from the Port to Westfield Junction, the Southern (Rail) Line from Westfield Junction to Wiri and the congested Southern Motorway between the Port and Mt Wellington is removed. Also conflict of movements between passenger and freight trains, cars and port freight trucks is also removed from Central Auckland and the CBD
    • Costly infrastructure projects such as the Third Rail Line between the Port and Westfield Junction can be canned while the Eastern Highway is down scaled from a full-blown motorway to a more friendly expressway
    • As the new port location is close to the south-east end of my proposed urban expansion program, it would be a straight forward exercise to expand the infrastructure and development connecting the port and new urban area. As a further trade-off any further urban expansion further north can be “sent to” the south-eastern expansion area so the 60:40 Brownfield:Greenfield development ratios can be still realised.
  • Freight costs would be the least out of the three options outlined. No congestion or constipation from keeping the Port where it is; no long distance running and associated costs from Marsden Point and Port of Tauranga to Westfield and Penrose.
  • No need for out of Auckland infrastructure upgrades such as; upgrading the North Auckland Line from Marsden Point to Westfield including the Avondale bypass, duplicating the East Coast Main Trunk Line or building more passing loops, upgrades to State Highways 1, 2, 27 and 29 to cater for increased volume and weight of freight trucks moving between Tauranga and Auckland, Marsden Point and Auckland
  • The new possible location of the port has a sea bed of mud and sand which is easy to dredge
  • Open flat land and a large body of water makes port expansion easier

There are negative consequences as well moving the Port to South East Auckland which I know and realise, consequences such as:

  • Virgin Greenfield rural land converted into industrial, transport and urban use (although the nearby area was going to be done so any way)
  • Set up cost of moving the port (although in dollar terms it would be cheaper than keeping the port where it is or relocating outside Auckland)
  • Urban footprint expands (was going to do so anyhow, and the offsets can be made)
  • Traffic volumes increases in South East Auckland – although well defined and built transit links can contain and mitigate the effects from those traffic volumes
  • Environmental concerns from human activity (again nothing new and mitigation can be done to offset the concerns)
  • Possible Maori Cultural concerns in the development area

It is important to remember that cities fluid entities and constantly change and adapt as human needs also change and adapt. Meaning cities are not static – they move and change as a part of life – thus Auckland is not static and has to change and adapt to the ever-changing world around it. This means literally committing to urban expansion and renewal in order for Auckland to function at its best as an international and major city. Relocating Port of Auckland to south East Auckland is just a part (although a major part in this current frame of time) of Auckland evolving and adapting to the needs of its citizens and the highly globalised world.

Environmental impacts with modern thinking and technology can be mitigated so our impact is managed in not minimised or eliminated – plus our laws are usually pretty strong (if not too strong if the Resource Management Act 1991 is anything to go by) to make sure we look after our environment from and with our impacts.

However this is all my opinion in what should happen to the Port of Auckland. I am no expert in these things and hence why I recommend an enquiry into what is best for our sickly functioning port.

In my next post – my letter to Auckland Council calling on an enquiry into POAL – here at VOAKL

Possible Port of Auckland Relocations – Part Three

What if the Port of Auckland stayed where it is

I have been covering the Port of Auckland saga extensively here at View of Auckland as well as Whale Oil at his site. In several posts I have mentioned that the Port verse Maritime Union fight as spawned off two other key debates. First being the ownership ratio of the Port – public, mix, private; the second being a possible relocation of the Port away from the Waterfront to another location.

Before you go further I recommend brushing up the Port coverage at VOAKL by checking out the Port of Auckland Index first if you have not done so already.

In the POAL debate; efficiency, viability and all other things economic have cropped up. The location of the current Port of Auckland has also come up with some saying it should be moved so that Port itself can be more viable as well as releasing land for extensive waterfront development.

VOAKL has called and will continue  calling on the Auckland Council to hold an enquiry into options for the location of the Port to allow the best rate of return and economic viability possible. An enquiry made up of a broad range of representatives from Business, Industry, Engineering and Academia would report on whether: Keep the port where it is and make improvements there, Relocate the Port within Auckland, or Close the Port entirely and allow Marsden Point and Port of Tauranga take POAL’s place. This calling on an enquiry to the Port I consider extremely urgent as in February, Auckland Council will debate and finalise The Draft Auckland Plan into the Auckland Spatial Plan – a legal document Council must follow for the next 30-odd years. No matter which of the three options will be recommended by such an enquiry and adopted by Council, all three options will have serious implications, consequences and ramifications to The Draft Auckland Plan. Serious enough are these consequences that any of those three options could trigger a re-write of The Draft Auckland Plan and Draft Long Term Plan, basically duplicating an exercise that did not have the foresight into such a CRITICAL ISSUE.

Having first looked at relocating the Port within Auckland (South East Auckland – Clevedon) followed by taking a look at relocating the Port entirely out of Auckland, our final look is keeping the Port where it is and upgrading it to handle future demand in shipping traffic.

Port of Auckland – where it is plus some expansion

The Draft Auckland Plan and its associating support documents plus technical manuals have the Port of Auckland staying where it is, with the potential to expand in its current location to meet future growth (see bottom for embedded link of technical document)

This expansion comes in the name of possible 20 hectare expansion into the Waitemata Harbour, this expansion seems to have parts of the media and other commentators running red-hot with all sorts of commentary from just about all angles.

The New Zealand Herald ran three stories alone on the Port of Auckland issue, with Joel Cayford also writing an extensive post on POAL as well late last year.

The three Herald articles were:

Port will ‘shrink harbour’ (graphic: see port’s new look)

Editorial: Open scrutiny of port plans vital for city

The big issue behind port dispute

Cayford’s Blog post can be found HERE

I highly recommend reading Cayford’s post before progressing as he sums up very well what I am also thinking in keeping POAL where it is and allowing it to expand. The NZ Herald in the “Port will ‘shrink harbour’ piece also has an interesting graphic of what COULD be the final result in POAL did extend 250m into the Waitemata Harbour.

Look having POAL extend that far into the harbour is one thing that is enough to alarm just about any person in Auckland or beyond, but what I am touching on here as Cayford did is the transportation links to and from the Port that will prove to be its (POAL) Achilles Heal.

Quoting from Cayford:

There are other side effects in Auckland of an expansion of POAL activities – for example dredging, reclamation into the City of Sails playground, and obstruction of view corridors. However, if POAL does not expand then the report has this advice:

“…When a port or its hinterland facilities are more strongly congested than is the case for competing ports, the quality of that port’s service may be lower in that it takes more time to access and egress the port and the reliability of service declines, and this weakens its competitive position….Just a quick digression here into Auckland’s “hinterland”. Specifically rail. The POAL plan suggests “as much as 30%” of container movements could be by rail. That sounds not very much to me. We should get as many of these container movements as we can onto rail – rather than trucked by road. Let’s assume 50% and consider the implications of POAL’s growth plans.
The 5% POAL growth strategy would mean the port would be handling about 3,600,000 container movements per year in 2040. About half of these are ship-ship movements – ie POAL acts as a hubbing port for other ports. The other half are distributed by road and rail. Assuming half of these are moved by rail, that means 900,000 containers are moved by rail. What would that mean for Auckland’s “hinterland”? Well. All of these container movements have to use the North Island Main Trunk Line NIMT – which takes them through the residential areas of Orakei, Panmure and Glen Innes. Trains through these areas travel slow, at about 30 kph. What does it mean for the local environment? Well. 900,000 containers carried by train over a year, each about 10 metres long (allowing for gaps between containers and rail trucks), would require 30 trains a day, each about a kilometre long, to get these 900,000 containers through that bit of Auckland’s hinterland. If trains ran with a 5 minute headway between each train, POAL container trains would run for 3 and a half hours each and every day of the working year (estimated to be 300 days) through Panmure and Glen Innes etc. And if that matter isn’t a concern, then POAL’s strategy of becoming a gateway port (in competition with POT) should be, as the paper goes on to explain:

“…One consequence of the drivers of change in the organization of supply chains is that gateway ports have in many cases become a replaceable element of the chain, with relatively weak bargaining power. A port that provides service of a given quality at the lowest price does not necessarily gain market share, as other factors – that are not under the port’s control – also affect port choice. The focus shifts from port performance to supply chain performance. Among the other factors, hinterland transport costs have become relatively important, as the cost per kilogram per km on the hinterland is 5 to 30 times as high (depending on the hinterland transport mode) as the maritime shipping cost. Routing choices, and to some extent port choices, are strongly dependent on hinterland transport conditions, and reliability of the total route has become increasingly important to those in the supply chain making the routing decisions.So. Spending up large on POAL reclamations will not guarantee that POAL is favoured as a gateway port – especially if road and rail conditions are congested and expensive. 

Simply put there are two ways in and out of Port of Auckland to get freight over land to and from where ever it needs to go. The first being (as mentioned above) the North Island Main Trunk Line – or for train commuters The Eastern Line from the Port (opposite The Strand near Britomart) to Westfield Junction, before the NIMT carries on from Westfield Junction south on the Southern Line. The second route being State Highway One (The Southern Motorway) via Grafton Gully and Stanley Street (State Highway 16) from the Port to (usually) the South Eastern Highway or Mt Wellington Highway. Now the reason why I mention Westfield Junction and the South Eastern or Mt Wellington Highways is because, these two links serve the major logistics freight hub and an inter-modal base in Auckland – which are in the suburbs of; Penrose, Mt Wellington and Westfield. However there is another freight logistics hub in Wiri further south which sits right on the Southern Line. This “inland” port is also an inter-modal base for containers to be transferred to and from trucks to/from rail – the same as Metro Port in Penrose.

Lets take a look at a map at the area of logistics hubs, inter-modal bases and transport routes in comparison to the city.

The first map we look at from Port of Auckland to Westfield/Penrose

The second map is from Westfield to Wiri

You can click on the images to enlarge them to 1920×980 or check them out “live” on Google Earth

You can see that POAL is pretty isolated from its support bases in both Wiri and Penrose/Westfield. Trucks and freight trains have to traverse some of the most congested routes in Auckland to move their goods to or from the Port back or from their inland bases before the goods are either further moved by train or truck to their final destinations and their customers. If you a truck – you also have to traverse the steep Grafton Gully and get stuck in the Newmarket Viaduct on the way out. As Cayford blogged, congestion is time – and time is money to businesses, exporters and importers; and heck you see some congestion between Wiri and Port of Auckland both on the roads and railway (passenger train movements). So the question is, if we (Auckland) have congestion now fouling freight movements between POAL and the inland operation points at Penrose/Westfield or Wiri, then I hate to think of the fouling and economic inefficiencies come 2040 when there two million people and a port moving double the volume of goods now.

If you want a congestion trial – take your car onto the Southern Motorway from Manukau and head to Britomart on State Highways One and 16 (Grafton Gully), take a train from Britomart to Papakura and back on the Eastern Line, then your car back to Manukau back tracking the way you came up Grafton Gully and see if you do not get stuck behind a freight train or truck on your circuit. Believe me if you do it can be a very painful experience as your time is eaten away – also you can see what the trucks have to go through as well as rail commuters.

Look simply put, the Port can expand all it wants but it will be still constipated and inefficient due to the hapless transit links and isolation from its inland support bases. And being isolated and constipated will continue to hobble POAL in being a competitive port against Marsden Point and Port of Tauranga which do not have these problems.

Now you can fix the transit problems if you are willing for the Port to expand such as seen in this graphic here. However the transit fixes will cost more than the City Rail Link and Second Harbour crossing combined – so an estimated total of around $7 billion. This is how the $7b would be broken down:

  1. Third Rail Line complete with Crossovers at each train station and electrification between POAL and Papakura on The Eastern Line: $1.3b minimum as this includes bridge rebuilds and the Meadowbank Tunnel being widened
  2. Eastern Highway as a full grade separated Motorway rather than the expressway I advocated for: $4b minimum and that is not including political resistance
  3. The South East Link from State Highway 20 through Penrose to Mt Wellington Highway, State Highway One, The Eastern Highway and East Tamaki/Highbrook (through a modified Eastern Highway): $1.5b minimum
  4. Upgrade to Wiri Inland Port: $100m minimum (the site would have to be relocated – I have an idea for location along old spur lines in Southern Wiri for it work – just need no muppet to build on it first

In fact here is another map showing the old spur lines from The Southern Line, the sites of possible new inter-modal hubs and the existing Wiri Inland Port.

Ironically these new possible hubs could work well due to the fact that there are already logistics bases there and existing (but mothballed) rail infrastructure to support it. Plus the spurs are off the main line so no fouling of passenger train movements – especially when the Third Rail Line is built properly.

$7 billion potentially spent on transit fixes with a colossal port protruding into the Waitemata Harbour and we run the risk still of high congestion and nuisance from increased freight movements in the most highly populated and valued areas of Auckland. Is the money being well spent or could it be used for something in my honest opinion rather more productive for the city. The Opportunity Cost both economically, environmentally (both physical and social) and pure monetary wise is extremely high if POAL stays, expands and money sunk into extremely expensive transit upgrades. Is such a cost worth it

At the end of the day, Auckland Council is going to have to think long and very hard on what to do with POAL. I have given three possible options with Joel Cayford is giving detailed analysis on what would happen if POAL stays where it is.

I preferably would have POAL relocate to South East Auckland with support coming in from Marsden Point – something I will touch in my final post in the POAL Location Mini Series.

The question is – what is best for Auckland and New Zealand in the long run concerning POAL – could a move be required and we cop the short-term pain for long-term gain.

Time for that enquiry Councillors.

Mission Accomplished

Move to new house complete


After a long slog of a week, Rebekka and I finally moved into our new house and spent our first night in it.

It has been a trial and tribulation this whole house hunting and moving business and hoping not to repeat too soon in the near feature.

The cat has also settled in well, well enough that within three hours of moving the bugger to the new place, he caught a mouse and deposited it as a gift. Furthermore while I am writing this the bastard caught another mouse and is busy playing with it. Ah well – that is why I have a hunter cat.

As for VOAKL, I have some draft posts that need touching up and will be ready to go over the long weekend


Thank you for your patience during our move

VOAKL will be back looking and debating the planning issues of Auckland

Nearly There

Nearly there folks, by the end of Friday we would have moved into our new house
That also means I get blogging again here at VOAKL – and boy is there a lot to blog on 🙂
Thanks for your patience during this down time folks while we complete the move to our new place


Settlement Complete

We now officially own our first house


Around 4pm I got the phone call from the lawyer saying Settlement for our very first house was complete



After some trials, tribulations, stress and a few mishaps Rebekka and I are now very proud home owners of a nice three bedroom place in Papakura.

The “Army” (this is when family is handy) will be around tomorrow to begin the slog of cleaning and setting up our first place.

Joy, relief and a sense of mission accomplished is the feelings at the moment – with a celebratory drink tonight at the new place before getting up at the crack of dawn to start the moving process.

Also now the fact we are ratepayers – yes ratepayers not renters. When I gave my presentation to the Auckland Council Draft Auckland Plan Hearing Panel – I did tell the councillors on the panel that I will now be watching where my ratepayers dollars go very very carefully. Needless to say it drew smiles and a round nods and laughter from the Councillors which included; George Wood, Chris Fletcher and Cameron Brewer of the centre right.

Well VOAKL is my voice on keeping an eye on my ratepayer‘s dollars, especially on all things urban and transport planning.

As mentioned in the sticky post – I will be back soon covering a range of topics that do affect you.

Sunday-Monday the conclusion to the three options for Port of Auckland – staying where it is – the consequences of doing so.

Coming Up in VOAKL

Coming over the next week at VOAKL


  • The final in the Port of Auckland Mini Series – Is the port staying at the waterfront a good or bad idea?
  • Post Five in The Draft Auckland Plan – VOAKL takes a look at the Tamaki Central Master (Community) Plan
  • The Scoop – That Independent Report to Auckland Council and me declaring The Draft Auckland Plan a Lemon – A new mini series providing commentary, debate and ideas into Auckland’s growth dilemma
  • My Line in the Sand #2 – where I stand on The Draft Auckland Plan


All coming up at VOAK


Do not forget – comments, discussion and debate are welcome here at VOAKL – I run a pretty free board so long as you follow the rules

All first comments here at VOAKL are moderated – if I approve you are free to comment without moderation from there on – just do not provoke me in removing that privilege .

Rudman comments on Port of Auckland

Brian Rudman Comments on Port of Auckland Staying in Auckland


In today’s New Zealand Herald column, Brian Rudman comments:

The dilemma for Auckland could well be, if the revolution in work practices the port bosses are demanding does attract more container traffic into the CBD, the extra profits shareholder Mayor Len Brown is demanding could quickly be gobbled up ameliorating the deleterious effects of the additional freight passing through the city.

In other words, is the battle for port supremacy with Tauranga one Aucklanders want to win? Is fighting for the right to ship the milk powder and butter from the Waikato dairy belt out through the bottom of Queen St, really going to help achieve the mayor’s goal of becoming the world’s most liveable city


They are fair points and points that I am covering in my Port of Auckland Mini Series which can be found by going to the Port of Auckland Index (button at the top of the page). I have not yet covered the final in this particular mini-series the consequences of keeping POAL where it is – but will be doing soon.

Auckland does need to think long and hard about the Port of Auckland and its future – as it has series implications on all of us and The Draft Auckland Plan.



English: Ports of Auckland container facilitie...
Port of Auckland


Fresh Winds Blowing on California High Speed Rail

Fresh Winds Blowing on California High Speed Rail.


Came across my inbox today.

An interesting read into California’s High Speed Rail Project.

Similar concerns in some respects from the article could also be said about the Auckland City Rail Link – especially around the business case.


I wonder if Auckland Councillor’s should read this article to learn anything from California when advocating for the CRL to our central government.

Local Boards have their “Moment”

Muppets and Moments

And it seems some people representing their local communities on Auckland’s Local Boards have decided to enter into the POAL dispute and issue a nice press release backing MUNZ and the port workers.

Talk about a muppets’ Moment in spades.

Look Local Boards might want to express opinion of their community about POAL as it is a city issue – but please do it right.

Please consult your community first and make sure you have absolute support from all Local Board members on your board.

All you muppets have done is made a partisan issue even more partisan by coming out as individuals rather than the collective.

Then again looking at the list of names – a sandwich short of a picnic or a beer short of a 6 pack sounds more apt for these muppets – having their moment…