Ports of Auckland
Ports of Auckland Limited (POAL), the successor to the Auckland Harbour Board, is the Council-owned company administering Auckland's commercial freight and cruise ship harbour facilities. As the company operates all of the associated facilities in the Greater Auckland area (excluding the ferry terminals and local marinas for recreational yachting), this article is about both the current company and the ports of Auckland themselves.
Auckland has two commercial harbours (not counting ferry terminals), with an international container port in Auckland and a regional port in Onehunga. There is also an associated 'inland port' (reshipment terminals without direct maritime access) serving the national reshipment trade, located in Wiri, South Auckland. In its facilities, the company employs the equivalent of 550 full-time staff and is in operation at all hours to allow for quick turnaround of cargo.1
The Port of Auckland is a large container and international trade port on the Waitemata Harbour, lying on the central and eastern Auckland waterfront (north of Auckland CBD). The 55ha of wharves and storage areas (mostly for containers, cars and other large cargos) are almost exclusively situated on reclaimed land,2 mostly in the former Commercial Bay, Official Bay and in Mechanics Bay.
Wharves (from west to east) are:
- Wynyard Wharf (also known as 'Tank Farm' or 'Western Reclamation', west of Viaduct Basin and mostly used for chemicals and liquids storage. It is to be turned into a mixed-use development and a park within the next decades). This land is now owned and administered by Council's Waterfront Auckland CCO.
- Princes Wharf (residential development and cruise ship terminal). An easement around the edge wharf provides for emergency services and ship berthing (such as when cruise ships visit)
- Queens Wharf (proposed additional cruise ship terminal).3 This land is now owned and administered by Council's Waterfront Auckland CCO.
- Captain Cook Wharf
- Marsden Wharf
- Bledisloe Wharf (on which Stadium New Zealand in 2006 was proposed to be built)
- Jellicoe Wharf
- Freyberg Wharf
- Fergusson Wharf (a very large container trade reclamation from the 1960s)
POAL bought three new large container cranes in 2006 from Chinese firm Zhenhua Port Machinery Co. for NZ$27 million, now installed at the Axis Intermodal Terminal at Fergusson wharf, where they join two older cranes bought in 2001. The new cranes are the largest in New Zealand, weighing 1,250 tonnes each. Standing 103 m high with a 56 m boom length, they are capable of lifting two 20-foot (6.1 m) containers at once, with speeds of up to 150 m per minute. They were bought to provide the necessary lifting capacity and reach for Post-Panamax ships. Their generators can provide emergency power to refrigerated containers in case of power failure.45 The port has also upgraded most of the straddle carrier fleet to the most modern version Noell Straddles, with diesel-electric power.citation needed
This second harbour is a smaller facility near Onehunga on the Manukau Harbour, south of Auckland City. While it is much closer to the industrialized parts of southern Auckland and Manukau City, the access via the shallow entrance of Manukau Harbour, and the generally less extensive facilities mean that it is of much less significance than the main port, and is used mostly for coastal reshipment within New Zealand,2 such as for bringing in cement from Westport.
Chelsea Wharf, in Birkenhead, North Shore City, not part of the current POAL facilities, serves the Chelsea Sugar Refinery, which has operated since 1884. The nine hectares of the land were leased from POAL, but purchased by Chelsea in 1997.6 Ships with unrefined sugar (mostly from Australia) arrive at the wharf every six weeks,7 and as they generally exceed 500 gross register tons (GRT), the ships are legally required to use pilotage, managed by the Ports of Auckland's Harbour Control.8
An inland port in South Auckland which functions as a rail exchange between the sea port and the national road and rail freight networks.
Visited by around 1,600 commercial vessels a year,8 Auckland is New Zealand's largest commercial port, handling more than NZ$20 billion of goods per year,9 substantially exceeding that of major rival Port of Tauranga. Ports of Auckland handles the movement of 60% of New Zealand's imports and 40% of its exports (both by value, 2006),10 respectively 50% of the North Island's container trade, and 37% of all New Zealand's container trade (2007).11 It moves 4 million tonnes of 'breakbulk' cargo per year (2006),10 as well as around 773,160 twenty-foot equivalent containers units per year (2007).11
Another major import are used cars, with approximately 166,000 landed per year.12 The cars are mainly relatively new Japanese models, due to the very strict technical requirements of the Japanese road authorities. Due to the very strict biosecurity regulations administered by the MAF, cars (and many other goods) have to pass through a decontamination facility, which strongly increases turnover times.9
In the 2005/2006 season, POAL catered for 48 cruise ship visits (at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Princes Wharf), with more than 100,000 passengers passing through the port, mostly disembarking for short stopover trips into Auckland or the surrounding region.13 Each of the ships is estimated to add about NZ$1 million to the regional economy.9 For 2007/2008, the total was forecast at 73 ship visits, another strong increase.3
So far, the largest ship to visit was the Queen Mary 2, which had to be diverted to Jellicoe Wharf in the freight part of the port due to its size. However, the largest one-day turnover came in February 2007, when the Statendam and the Sapphire Princess were due in Auckland to exchange around 8,000 people at the terminal, the equivalent of 19 Boeing 747 jumbo jets.14
In 2013, Auckland won a major cruise ship industry award, being named Best Turnaround Destination (best location to start or end a cruise at) by Britain’s Cruise Insight magazine based on a survey of industry leaders.15
According to an economic impact assessment, 173,000 jobs in the Auckland Region rely on trade through the ports and the ports have an impact on a third of the local economy.16 Ports of Auckland is 100% held by Auckland Regional Holdings, an Auckland Regional Council (ARC) investment entity. Annual dividends to Auckland Regional Holdings and its predecessors in the 15 years to 2006 totalled NZ$500 million.9
Auckland's trade, by virtue of being the (now) largest city of an island colony nation, has to a large degree always depended on its harbours. Starting from the original wharves in Commercial Bay in the 1840s, and expanding via the land reclamation schemes that transformed the whole of the Auckland waterfront throughout the 19th and 20th centuries (and still continue today, especially at Fergusson Wharf), the port became the largest of New Zealand (and has been since at least 1924, incidentally the same year the Port of Onehunga was opened).9
The initial establishment of the harbour facilities in Commercial Bay and Official Bay suffered from the tidal mudflats that made establishing good wharves difficult. After control of the Waitemata Harbour passed to the Auckland Provincial Council in 1853, the Council did much work on improving the facilities, which included constructing the first Queen Street Wharf, building a quay along Customs Street and a breakwater at Point Britomart.17
After the Auckland Harbour Board was established in 1871 by the Council, further wharves were added and massive reclamation works were undertaken, eventually making Freemans Bay and Mechanics Bay lose their natural shoreline, while Commercial Bay (today the site of much of the Auckland CBD and the Auckland waterfront) was totally lost to history. The newly reclaimed land allowed the construction of a railway wharf and new dockyard facilities. New facilities were also built on the other side of the harbour, at Devonport, with the 'Calliope Dock' being the largest drydock in the southern hemisphere in 1888.17
By the early 20th century, commercial and passenger traffic was already very busy, with large passenger liners from Europe and the USA arriving regularly. Though the Second World War collapsed the nascent tourist trade, the US entering the war in 1941 led to it basing a part of its fleet operations in Auckland, necessitating further expansion of the harbour facilities. In 1943 alone, 104 warships and 284 transports visited Auckland. During this time, 24/7 operations began.17
After the war, the expansion continued, with the Import and Freyberg Wharves opening in 1961, as well as the creation of the Overseas Passenger Terminal on Princess Wharf. During the late 1960s, the massive, deep-draught Fergusson Wharf was established to serve the beginning container trade. While finished in 1971, it took until 1973 for the first container vessel to arrive, though the general container trend was not to avoid the port.1718
In 1985, the Harbour Board's computer system was broken into by a teenaged hacker. Although it was not the first hacking incident to be reported in New Zealand, it was one of the first to feature in a major TV news story.192021
In 1988 the Auckland Harbour Board and operations of the port were corporatised and handed over to a newly formed company, Ports of Auckland, by Act of Parliament. The change in management increased productivity, but also led to substantial cuts in the directly employed workforce.17
In October 1993 20% of the shares were floated to the public on the New Zealand sharemarket when the Waikato Regional Council (now Environment Waikato) sold its stake.22 On 1 April 2005 Auckland Regional Holdings, part of the former Auckland Regional Council, which held the remaining 80% of shares in the company, made a takeover offer at $8 a share. This gave the company a value of $848 million.22 The bid was successful, and the port is now 100% owned by the Auckland Council, successor of the Auckland Regional Council and other local authorities.2
As of 2012, Auckland Council Investments Limited (ACIL), the CCO responsible for non-transport investment assets, manages the 100% share of Ports of Auckland Limited, now worth approximately $620 million.23
Now being the third largest container terminal in Australasia, as well as New Zealand's busiest port,17 little remains in terms of the original facilities. Even so, Ports of Auckland is still expanding and changing at a quick pace, with further reclamation worked planned to shift harbour operations further east, in connection with future needs as well as the plans for a more accessible Auckland waterfront.
In 2007, with a big increase in shipping traffic being projected (due to the Maersk shipping line choosing Auckland as a hub for the Fonterra export traffic), POAL considered a merger with Port of Tauranga, which did not come to pass.11 In the same year, volumes at the port rose 12.6% while profits, after deducting one-time items and property investments unrelated to the port operation, remained similar to 2006 (then NZ$55.9 million).11
In its 2008 plan, POAL proposed to extend the Fergusson and Bledisloe terminals into one large area mainly intended for container handling. The change is to increase the port's capacity by 250%, and allow ships with up to 7,000 containers to use its facilities, where the current limit is about 4,000. The extension would include the purchase of even larger cranes, topping out at 94m, while containers on the wharf may be stacked as high as six-storey buildings.24
In 2009, POAL noted that while container business in the past year had increased and profits in that sector had grown due to productivity gains and more consolidation of the industry towards larger ports like Auckland, there was a significant reduction in car import business due to the recession, which reduced the company's profits by 26% to $12.6m for the last half year to 31 December 2008.25
From early 2010, Ports of Auckland has operated a new inland port / rail siding in Wiri to connect road freight to the port facilities via freight trains. The new facility allows Ports of Auckland to reduce the amount of trucks that have to travel through the Auckland Central area by up to 100,000 trips a year.26
In late 2011, Ports of Auckland became engaged in an industrial dispute with workers represented by the Maritime Union of New Zealand, after negotiations broke down over the expiry of the existing collective contract, and plans by the port to contract out its services to casual workers.27 The company board cited a Productivity Commission report calling for greater flexibility in the ports industry, and the need to compete with its nearest rival, Port of Tauranga.28 The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)29 later became involved, warning that Ports of Auckland could be declared the world's first 'port of convenience'.30 Port workers in other parts of the country briefly downed tools in support of the striking Auckland workers, before being ordered to get back to work.31
On 7 March 2012, the Port announced that all striking dock workers would be made redundant.32 This prompted a strong response from the striking port workers, the Maritime Union of New Zealand, and its global affiliates in the ITF, ILWU33 and Maritime Union of Australia.34 The ITF's president, Paddy Crumlin, subsequently declared Ports of Auckland a port-of-convenience on 9 March.35
In response, the Port issued a full-page letter in the Sunday Star Times, arguing that the port workers earned on average $91,000 for a 26-hour working week.4142 These figures have been disputed by the Maritime Union of New Zealand, which accused the Port of having casualisation plans all along, and twisting its own figures in order to discredit the union.4344
Auckland Mayor Len Brown refused to take sides in the dispute, garnering criticism from supporters,4546 but offered to mediate in the dispute.41 In December 2012, the Port was fined NZD$40,000 by the Employment Relations Authority for deliberately employing strikebreakers during the dispute.47
- About Us (from the POAL website). Retrieved 10 March 2009.
- Shedding Light On Our Port - Ports of Auckland Portfolio 2006 (from the official company website). Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- "Queens Wharf a golden opportunity for Auckland". Region Wide, newsletter of the Auckland Regional Council, March 2008, Page 4
- "Big booms are best". e.nz magazine, March/April 2007
- Ihaka, James (14 December 2006). "Giant cranes complete journey from China". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Chelsea Sugar Refinery buys nine hectares leased from Ports of Auckland (from the CAFCA website, 'September 1997 decisions'). Retrieved 2007-12-06.
- Environmental - Estate Aerial Map (from the Chelsea Sugar Refinery website. Retrieved 2007-12-15.)
- ID Positive (newsletter of Axis Intermodal, September 2006). Retrieved 2006-12-06.
- "Michael Lee: Port creates a vital link in our economy". The New Zealand Herald. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Port Overview (from the POAL website, Saturday 4 November 2006)
- "More bulk, less gain for biggest port". Business Herald, 28 September 2007, Page 6
- "A tale of two ports". The New Zealand Herald. 11 October 2006. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- "Spectacular cruise ship season begins" (from the POAL website. 25 October 2006)
- "Cruise ships records shattered with nine ships in one week". (from a POAL press release, 9 February 2007)
- "Auckland claims cruise crown". The Aucklander. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- O'Neill, Rob (2 May 2000). "Ports a core player in national economy". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
- Ports of Auckland Company Profile (from the 'Business History' project of University of Auckland)
- A Wheel on Each Corner, The History of the IPENZ Transportation Group 1956-2006 - Douglass, Malcolm; IPENZ Transportation Group, 2006, Page 12
- John Hawkesby, Top Half. 8 March 1985 (from the TVNZ website). Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "'Hackers' bug hi-tech". Dominion Post. April 1985.
- "Hackers hit survey firm, traffic system". Auckland Star. 26 March 1985.
- Brian Gaynor (14 January 2012). "Brian Gaynor: Port's viability hinges on dispute outcome". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
- "Auckland Council Investments Limited". Our Auckland (Auckland Council newsletter). August 2012.
- "Can you see the sea". The Aucklander, 26 February 2009, Pages 10-11
- "Record container traffic, but vehicle slump hits Ports of Auckland profits". The New Zealand Herald. 10 March 2009. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Major milestone achieved for Wiri Inland Port rail link (Ports of Auckland press release, via infonews.co.nz, 12 November 2009.) Retrieved 2009-10-14.
- NZ Herald, 15 Jan 2012 - Two men and a port in a storm
- Lifting workplace restrictions could make Auckland top Australasian port (POAL press release, 12 January 2012)
- TVNZ News 20 Jan 2012 - Ports 'on brink' of 'port of convenience' declaration
- Fairfax NZ - Wellington wharfies ordered to unload ship
- 'It ain't over', port union warns
- ILWU - New Zealand: ILWU joins MUNZ workers at Auckland waterfront picket
- NZ Herald - Port action spreads across Tasman
- ITF Global - Rally tomorrow for Auckland dockers
- NZ Herald - Unions join forces to support ousted port workers
- NZ Herald - Port protesters hit Auckland streets
- TVNZ News - Thousands rally for sacked Ports workers
- Fairfax NZ - Thousands march in support of port workers
- Noisy march gives heart to wharfies
- Radio New Zealand - Auckland mayor prepared to mediate in port dispute
- Ports of Auckland - Need For Change
- MUNZ: Ports of Auckland management "fact sheet" short on facts
- YouTube - Ports of Auckland: Setting the facts straight
- Unrest has unions looking to the future
- Lamington attack on mayor over port
- Rebecca Quilliam (2012-12-13). "Ports of Auckland fined $40k for strike-breaking hire". New Zealand Herald.
- David Williams (2013-11-01). "Ports of Auckland court battle shelved". National Business Review.
- "Maritime Union settles dispute with Ports of Auckland". New Zealand Herald. 2015-02-18.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ports of Auckland.|
- Ports of Auckland (official port website)
- Ports of Auckland (timelapse movie showing port operations. Requires QuickTime)