Hearings about Napier Port's ownership were derailed after multiple submitters did not show up.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council had to take two impromptu breaks during the day, one of which turned into a discussion addressing some of the issues raised in written submissions, and one which turned into an extra tea break.

Council chairman Rex Graham said it was incredibly disappointing.

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"We've scheduled everybody in and some people aren't even ringing and telling us and giving apologies.

"So we've got all the councillors sitting around, we've got long gaps."

While it's not unheard of for people not to turn up during the hearings process, Graham said this was the worst he'd ever seen.

However, he said he was enjoying listening to the people who had turned up.

"I've found it really interesting myself. I love it, hearing from the community.

"I like to hear what they think about things, their own lives, their own perspectives on things."

Those speakers who did turn up spoke mostly in favour of option A, which would see the regional council and the people of Napier retain full ownership of the port.

A few speakers spoke against the port expansion.


One resident of Ahuriri, Richard Quigley, told the council Napier Port had outgrown its current site, and suggested a new port should be built at Awatoto.

"My honest and preferred opinion/option, together with several other local residents, is that Napier Port has outgrown its current location in the associated residential area."

He said his house often shakes and vibrates with heavy traffic going past on the road.

Another speaker, Mark Brown-Thomas, suggested the proposed development of Napier Port, such as the new wharf, should not go ahead, seeing as it cannot be paid for.

Another idea which was raised was funding the port through the Provincial Growth Fund.

Submitter John Thompson suggested the council apply for funds from the PGF which would see the port funded without changing ownership or cost to ratepayers.

However, Graham said the council had approached the PGF, although not formally applied to it, and had been told it would give them a loan rather than a grant.

Thompson said as a second option he did not mind privatisation, but he thought the council had not done a good job of approaching the PGF if it had been turned down.

"Be bold, try again, make a big noise."

In written submissions, a majority of people supported option B, which is a part-ownership model. It would see up to 49 per cent of the port sold on the sharemarket.

Fifty-seven per cent of written submissions supported this option and 28 per cent supported option A.

Just under 10 per cent supported none of the options, and the remainder of submissions were split between options C and D.