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Winston Peters all talk no facts

Maori Party
31 August 2017

Winston Peters all talk no facts

The proposal by NZ First leader Winston Peters to shift the Auckland container port to Northport at Marsden Point near Whangarei has failed the “homework test” says Maori Party president Tukuoirangi Morgan.

“If Mr Peters had done his homework, he would know that his fanciful vision of Northport as capable of meeting the standards of present and projected trans-ocean container ships, is an impractical and uneconomic nightmare.

“For starters, Northport lacks the berthage space and, even after dredging, the draught depth needed for the increasing numbers of Post Panamax(fifth generation) container ships now serving New Zealand, with taking into account New Panamax (sixth generation) vessels now coming into international service. Then comes the problem of moving the thousands of 40ft containers that pour in daily to other parts of New Zealand to which they are destined.

“The container shipping industry talks in terms of TEU (20-ft-equivalent) containers, that is, one 40ft container equals 2 TEU. The Post Panamax vessels now serving us can carry up to 8000 TEU. Say a ship offloads and loads just 2000 such containers in a single visit, making a total of 4000 container movements. At 50 containers per train, this means 80 trains per day, or one freight train every 20 minutes. At the Auckland end, whether coming or going, these trains would have to use the same railway lines already crowded with local suburban passenger trains and railcars.

“In any case, for the long haul between Northport and, say, Wiri, there is not a single tunnel rail tunnel between Auckland and Whangarei that is spacious enough to allow passage on one single container; leaving only the roading alternative of State Highway 1, already frequently troubled by slips and an uneven surface.

“So it’s not a simple case of relocating Auckland’s current container port to Northport, at a probable cost of at least $1 billion: there’s also the extra billion or two for a new highway and a new railway line. When one takes into account that already 65 per cent on all containers handled at Auckland are either destined to or sourced from points south of Auckland, it makes no sense practically or economically to land or despatch them from well north of Auckland.

“Common sense makes south of Auckland a much better proposition, and, as our Maori Party candidate for Hauraki-Waikato, Rahui Papa has pointed out, Tainui can offer just such a proposition at Waimangu Point in the Firth of Thames.

Mr Morgan added that if Mr Peters really wants to help the north, he should listen to what the Mana Movement candidate for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira, is saying about making Whangarei the New Zealand capital for “Big Data”, with a complex linked to Hawaiiki cable due to come into service next year, with the New Zealand terminal just down the road at Mangawhai Heads. This is an area that offers the geological stability (freedom from earthquakes and volcanic activity) that is vital for the uninterrupted operation of a big data complex, which also has the benefit of assuring well-paid employment to the city’s young people without them having to leave home and whanau.


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