New port terminal planned

By Mike Dinsdale

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Northland Port Corp has long-term plans to build a container terminal at North Port, Marsden Pt. Photo / File
Northland Port Corp has long-term plans to build a container terminal at North Port, Marsden Pt. Photo / File

Northland Port Corporation has long-term plans to have a container terminal at North Port, but company chairman Sir John Goulter admits the plan hasn't been well publicised.

Sir John was re-elected as chairman at the Northland Port Corp's (NPC) AGM last Friday, despite opposition from some minority shareholders, and outlined the company's future to about 60 shareholders.

NPC has been criticised by some minority shareholders unhappy at the way the organisation is being run, but Sir John dismissed the concerns, saying the company was performing very well and had recorded a net surplus of $6.735 million, while its trading surplus increased more than 20 per cent to $7.254 million.

He said this was hardly the performance of a company that was not being run properly and he was disappointed that Ports of Auckland (POA) - which owns a 19.9 per cent share in NPC - had joined the criticism.

"Maybe we should be down there and better explain what we can do in respect of taking some of the business out of Auckland and bringing it up here.

Maybe we have been too passive in that regard," Sir John said.

He said NPC had long-term plans to include a container terminal at North Port - the deep water port at Marsden Pt that is 50/50 owned between NPC and Port of Tauranga - that would take away the need to have containers sitting on the wharf on prime waterfront land in downtown Auckland.

NPC had enough land around North Port - 180ha - for such a terminal and had recently concreted over 3ha of that land for more log storage.

"We have some exciting plans long term. There is a long-term plan that does include containerisation ... and possibly we have not taken this out to the general public as much as we should have," Sir John said.

POA is struggling to get consent to expand into Waitemata Harbour for port business - which has strong opposition from Ngati Whatua o Orakei - and North Port is seen as a potential solution to that problem.

The port also had plans and consent for construction of a fourth berth - which was not far away from confirmation.

Northland Regional Council owns 53.61 per cent of NPC.

One of the other highlights of the AGM was a vote to increase remuneration for the seven directors from $182,000 to $200,000 (to an average of $28,500 each, still the lowest of the country's port companies) .The number of directors will likely reduce to six next year.

However, minority shareholders will likely take the matter to the New Zealand Stock Exchange after former NPC chairmen Mike Daniels, who held proxies for many minority shareholders - contended that the NRC should not vote on the issue because of a potential conflict of interest.

Sir John ruled there was no conflict and the vote went ahead.

- Northern Advocate

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