Relocating Auckland's port to Northport at Marsden Point will bring strong economic benefit for the region as local government leaders prepare to debate the issue, says Northland Regional Council's new chairwoman Penny Smart.

"It's clearly a positive move," Smart said.

Her comments follow backing from former Prime Ministers Helen Clark and John Key for Auckland's used-car and container port to move to Whangarei.

She said any move had to be to the benefit of all three affected ports with Port of Auckland, Port of Tauranga and Northport all owning shares.

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Northport ownership is split 50:50 between Port of Tauranga and Marsden Maritime Holdings (MMH). Northland Regional Council is the major shareholder of MMH. (During the 2018/2019 financial year it received dividend payments totalling $3,487,50).

MMH is a publicly listed company, its two largest shareholders NRC with 56.3 per cent and the Ports of Auckland with 19.9 per cent.

Penny Smart, Northland Regional Council chairwoman.
Penny Smart, Northland Regional Council chairwoman.

Smart said Northland's four newly-elected councils would jointly be discussing the northward port relocation at their Northland Forward Together group meeting at Northland Regional Council on December 9.

Moving Auckland's port to Northland was mooted as the best solution in a report from the upper North Island supply chain (UNISCS) working group's report. The report has recently been submitted to Cabinet.

A new lobby group called Waterfront 2029 has emerged to push for the move with a social media campaign in support of the shift.

Northland Regional Council chief executive Malcolm Nicolson said there was obvious merit in shifting Auckland's port to Northland.

"There's a very clear recognition Northland needs a fully integrated transportation system comprising various methods of transportation – rail, road and coastal shipping – for its economy to flourish," Nicolson said.

Relocating the port of Auckland to Northport has been called New Zealand's most ambitious infrastructure project ever, costing $10 billion and including a $1.6 billion rail line to Marsden Point and acceleration of four laning State Highway 1 from Auckland to Whangarei.

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The debate over relocating Auckland's port is increasingly vocal

FOR

The shift is part of a national, New Zealand big picture from which all will benefit.
Relocation will revitalise Northland
Shifting the port from Auckland to Northland will strengthen Northland's fully integrated transport system comprising various methods of transportation – rail, road and coastal shipping – for its economy to flourish.
Increased business 'resilience' for Northland
More jobs
Shifting Ports of Auckland out of that city will avoid the need for plans to use high explosives to blast two million tonnes of volcanic rock out of the Rangitoto Channel to allow modern container ships to visit.

AGAINST

Opponents say the move is not positive, that it would move freight further away from the businesses and consumers it is destined for.;
That the benefits of shifting the port to Marsden Point have been oversold.
The costs of shifting the port to Marsden Point have been undersold.
The relocation makes little economic or logistical sense.
Building appropriate roading between Auckland city and Northport would cost billions of dollars, compromising the rest of New Zealand's road network.
Moving Auckland Port's 300,000-cars annual imports to Northport will wipe the former's biggest income earner.