The Ports of Auckland must be moved for the growth and prosperity of the city, say three mayoral candidates.
Their comments came after a survey of 328 small business representatives by MYOB revealed 39 per cent would vote for a mayoral candidate who proposed to move the port.
The survey also found 31 per cent opposed a move while 32 per cent said it would not affect their vote.
During a mayoral debate yesterday on Newstalk ZB, Phil Goff, John Palino and Victoria Crone said moving the port was important.
Speaking to Leighton Smith, Mr Goff said the port would reach capacity for bulk cargo probably within the next three to 10 years and for container traffic within the next 24 to 40.
"At a certain point Auckland port will not be able to take any further traffic and I am not in favour of the port expanding into the harbour.
"The second reason is that there is 75ha of prime central business district land there that I think would produce a better return than a port."
He said moving the port would also reduce congestion on Auckland's motorways.
Victoria Crone said the port couldn't grow with the city and was therefore obsolete.
"We have moved on and our economy is no longer driven by [the port]. It is an important part of it but it is not the main driver."
She said it was important to take a 50 to 100-year view of the port, which would enable people to see the port would not have the capacity to serve the city.
"Our focus has to be on how do we move it, how do we move it cost-effectively, how do we keep the business communities in Auckland as little affected as possible when we go through the move and then we have an incredible piece of land with significant infrastructure opportunity that we can then open up to all of Auckland."
Ms Crone suggested the land could then be used for "a combination of economic and social living, vibrant night life, we need a ferry terminal, people have said we need a stadium, we could look at a Sydney opera house".
John Palino argued the business part of the port should be sold.
"If we sell the business part of the port, the value in the port is really the real estate ... so we could look at Tauranga and Whangarei and possibly create a deal with them where we sell them the port or we sell someone else the port.
"We [then] give them the ability to run that port for up to 10 years but the deal would be that in 10 years the port has to be removed."
Mark Thomas meanwhile opposed their views.
At a certain point Auckland port will not be able to take any further traffic and I am not in favour of the port expanding into the harbour.
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There were other priorities the council needed to deal with before looking at moving the port, such as further investment in rail, he said.
"Those are the issues I want to be focusing on, not the wishful thinking and planning that others seem to be focused on."
Penny Bright said any plan to move the port would have to have full transparency to the public.
Early last year the port was subject to protest after consent for two huge wharf extensions was granted without the public's knowledge.
Following the "Save our Harbour" campaign, the High Court ruled that consents for the project were invalid because the public were not given a say.