An aerial view of Northport at present

by Paul Campbell

Kaipara District Council is joining the three other newly elected Northland councils to discuss the emerging proposal to move Auckland’s port to Whangarei, with Mayor Jason Smith firmly endorsing the idea, saying: “Kaipara is in the sweet spot.”

The subject is on the agenda at a Northland Forward Together group meeting of KDC, Far North District Council and Whangarei District Council at the Northland Regional Council on December 9. Moving Auckland’s port to Northland was termed the best solution in a report from the upper North Island supply chain UNISCS working group’s report. The port debate has also been highlighted with support from former prime ministers Helen Clark and John Key and the added news that the navy considers moving.

“The announcement of the Royal NZ Navy proposing relocating its dry dock to Northport, plus the idea of relocating the port freight terminal from Auckland, is a once-in-150-year shift in New Zealand. It’s all to Kaipara’s benefit,” said Dr Smith.

“I welcome the news the port relocation is being considered seriously and support the intention to relocate industrial port facilities from Auckland to Northport. A glance at any map shows Kaipara is in the ‘sweet spot’ and we need to leverage this advantage to make the mighty Kaipara really hum.”

Dr Smith added that government is already committing $95 million investment in rail between Auckland and Whangarei, with most of that going through Kaipara District.

“If industrial port activities were to be at Northport, then we should reasonably expect a four-lane road connecting that port with other regions via Auckland. We may also see an improvement in coastal shipping and possibly passenger sea transport too.

“Removing the geographic bottle-neck of Auckland from the transport of people and goods between Northland and the rest of New Zealand would be a considerable advancement for Kaipara people.

“Kaipara District Council has already started preparing for significant population growth with its current spatial planning project, which will help inform the next District Plan. Many from the community are having their say on this work at present, so KDC is actively working on growth strategies.

“When I was elected mayor in 2018 I talked about the need to get right our development potential, the four-lane road, the rail, Kaipara’s place in ‘the golden diamond’ of fast-growing regions around Auckland.

“I’ve established a new committee at KDC called the Kaipara Horizons Committee, which has a single focus on large subjects, which are ‘on the horizon’ but may currently appear small because they are some way away.

“That committee will keep a watching brief on Northport proposals and share them with the community as we prepare for the future.”

Northland Regional Council’s new chair, and Kaipara constituency councillor, Penny Smart, will host the December 9 meeting and says a port relocation would bring strong economic benefit for the region.