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Don’t Move Ports Of Auckland. Build A Tunnel

In November 2019, a working group, commissioned by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, recommended closing down most of Ports of Auckland’s operations and setting up at Whangarei’s Northport. North Shore businessman Max Whitehead believes there is a better option.

Mr Whitehead, who once provided employment-relations services to Port of Auckland, proposes that an underwater tunnel be built in the Hauraki Gulf between Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands. There would be two lanes for motor vehicles and one track for trains.

"The concept isn't mine," says Mr Whitehead. "Instead, International Ports Consultant Raoul Borley, a friend of mine, developed the idea based on what is happening overseas — a similar project is currently under construction in Norway. Mr Whitehead and Mr Borley estimate that the project would cost about $4.1 billion, considerably less than the $12 billion it would cost to transfer from Auckland to Whangarei.

He also says that apart from considerable cost savings, other benefits include:

  • remove the Ports out of the harbour and away from Public view
  • a freeing up Auckland’s inner-city and North Shore motorways to ease traffic congestion
  • a significant reduction in time taken to transport goods from the Port to Auckland industrial zones
  • reduced pollution
  • no need to uproot port employees to maintain their careers.

Mr Whitehead says that he sees immense promise in the concept. However, both he and Borley recognise the need for open discussion to garner the acknowledgement and funding they believe the project deserves for a full feasibility study.

“Regardless of whether or not the concept happens, there's no doubt that Auckland's infrastructure will shape its future. To move the Ports of Auckland would create massive disruption within our city, and I urge Auckland residents to explore all options before accepting the Working Group’s recommendation to shift to Whangarei or elsewhere.

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