Editorial: Port news good for our region

By Andrew Austin

The announcement that the Napier Port has overtaken Ports of Auckland as the North Island's second-largest export port is certainly good news for our region.

Tauranga is the North Island's top export port, but overtaking Auckland is no mean feat for our local operation.

The port, which released its annual report yesterday, is also the fourth-largest container port in the country.

It seems that in these tough times, the Napier Port has managed to do okay, while other ports have struggled.

The woes of Ports of Auckland recently have been well documented and their focus is more on imports than exports, but it is still a remarkable achievement. I was in Auckland last week and the port is certainly an impressive operation, so to know that we are doing better than it in the key area of exports is satisfying.

The annual report certainly makes for interesting reading and shows a 2 per cent increase in exports to more than 3.7 million tonnes, much of it being forestry-based products. Log volumes were close to 1 million tonnes.

An 8.5 per cent lift in the number of containers handled to the end of September saw a record 204,065 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units). Revenue increased 11 per cent to $60.3 million and net profit was $11.08 million. Chief executive Garth Cowie said the port's growth was based "on a superior service model, understanding individual customer's business needs and tailoring transport logistics to those requirements whenever possible."

As an aside, one thing I found interesting in the annual report was how many top earners there are working for Napier Port. The report lists 49 staff members as earning more than $100,000, with the top earner, in all likelihood Mr Cowie as chief executive, earning in the staggeringly high salary band of $560,000 to $569,999. No wonder the port is doing so well if it can pay those sort of salaries.

It has been a week of good news for the region with our paper leading yesterday on the fact that the housing market is starting to heat up and our overall economic indicators showing that life is improving.

The Hawke's Bay Economic Monitor, a quarterly/six monthly report commissioned by the Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce, has painted an improving picture of our economy.

Hopefully the recession we have been living in for far too long will soon be a thing of the past and like Napier Port, other large companies will be able to post good results.

A strong economy is good for our region and, therefore, good for us.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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