The first ship to use a new multimillion-dollar port at Marsden Point has arrived to collect 17,000 tonnes of export logs.

Northport general manager Ken Crean said the Royal Forest arrived yesterday and would be at the port until Saturday before heading to South Korea and China.

Most of the port's business would be forestry-related initially but other commodities such as cement, fertiliser, dairy products and fruit would gradually start moving through the port over the next two years.

Only one berth at the $65 million port was operating, but a second berth would be completed in August.

Mr Crean said the port would become fully operational in October, when it would be officially opened.

Meanwhile, Northland Regional Council monitoring shows the port's construction had no significant adverse environmental effects on Whangarei Harbour's water quality or the shape of its seabed.

Construction of the port, a joint venture between the Northland Port Corporation and the Port of Tauranga, began in October 2000 and involved reclaiming about 30ha of harbour. By September about 1.7 million cubic metres of dredgings would have been removed from the harbour and used for the reclamation.

Recently released resource consent compliance monitoring records for the period January 1 to April 30, show that the colour and clarity of the harbour waters had not been adversely affected by construction activities like dredging.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE (WHANGAREI)

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