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Port Thinking - Have we imagined enough?

Port Thinking - Have we imagined enough?

Do Aucklanders understand the consequences of the solution offered for the Ports of Auckland, or do we need to keep thinking?

In a New Year’s letter to Aucklanders, Michael Barnett, is seeking innovative and creative ideas that looks beyond more rail and roads, more dredging and lots more carbon emissions.

The Port and its economic benefit belong to the people of Auckland. So, the purpose of his letter is to ask them to come up with an answer that is world class and different.

For example, imagine if we chose to have a floating Port, possibly located in the Firth of Thames and connected to an inland Port by a tunnel beneath the sea and under eastern Auckland.

“Imagine now that the container ships berth at the off-shore Port, unload the containers into the tunnel onto electric container movers and transported seamlessly from the floating Port to the inland Port for devanning and distribution. No ugly scarring of our waterfront or our landscape, just a constant flow of containers off the ships via a tunnel - out of sight, out of mind.”

This might sound like a flight of fancy from a Jules Verne novel, but it is conceivable, says Barnett. The world’s longest tunnel is Japan’s Seikan Tunnel which separates the main island of Honshu from the northern island of Hokkaido. The rail tunnel is 53 km - it was opened in 1988.

“I am not saying this is the answer, just asking you to think differently. We all agree the Port needs to move. So now it’s your turn. Dream a little and let’s see if we can find an answer that’s not linked to the dinosaur age. I’d love to hear your view. Email us at”

And yes, Barnett appreciates that Northland has an economic development issue.

He suggests the Government takes some assets they own and control – e.g. the Navy or the dockyards - and consider moving those for the good of Auckland and the good of Northland. This would make some great waterfront land available for the Shore and provide employment and economic activity for the north. Perhaps extend the Whangarei airport to provide both a backup for Auckland and a gateway to Northland for the new tourism product they will develop.

These actions could be an immediate change to the Northland economy and happen far quicker than moving Auckland’s Port.

To read the full letter, see

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