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Formal consultation starts on funding Napier Port’s growth

A month-long formal consultation process starts today with every household in Hawke’s Bay being asked to have their say on how best to fund the growth of Napier Port.

A full consultation document will start arriving in 70,000 letterboxes from today. In approximately two weeks, a printed submission form will also be posted to all households for residents to fill in and freepost to the Regional Council. Online submissions can be made now through the Regional Council website – www.hbrc.govt.nz

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair, Rex Graham says every effort was being made to engage the people of Hawke’s Bay and to make it easy for them to have their say.

“Napier Port is at a tipping point. It requires $320 - $350 million of investment over the next decade for it to continue to support our economy, including $142 million for a new wharf, which is needed in 2022,” says Mr Graham.

“The Council believes floating up to 49 per cent of the Port on the local stock exchange is in the best interests of the Port, our economy and ratepayers. This option provides the funding the Port needs to invest, retains majority community ownership and control and does not burden ratepayers.

“It’s not a new model – it is one that has worked very well at the Port of Tauranga and it also enables the local community, including Port staff, tangata whenua and ratepayers the opportunity to invest directly in a strategic local asset.”

Rex Graham says funding the Port’s growth via rates would see average rate increases of 53 per cent next year and cost the average ratepayer $956 over the next nine years. He says the Regional Council is mindful of low, fixed income families struggling with this.

He says while the preferred option was a minority share float, the Council is consulting on three other options, including: ratepayers funding the Port’s growth, leasing the Port to a private operator for up to 50 years and selling a minority stake to an investment partner.

“We have an open mind. We’ve been very transparent about this process and the options and we now need to hear from the people of Hawke’s Bay.”

On 3 October, the consultation document was published on the Regional Council’s website, along with a justification paper from the Port on the requirement to build a new wharf. All documents are available at www.hbrc.govt.nz, including online submission forms.

“This is a very important conversation for Hawke’s Bay. We’ve been working on this for the best part of two years and now is the time to have your say.”

© Scoop Media

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