Hawke's Bay regional Council has voted to sell up to 49% of Napier Port saying they needed to invest in the environment, rather than a commercial entity.

The decision was not unanimous, however, with seven councillor voting for the partial sell down, and two voting against it.

Councillor Rick Barker said council had to be in the best position possible to do environmental work.

"Here we are spending time and resources worrying about a commercial entity."

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"This region needs this council to be in the best possible position it can be to take on environmental issue."

He said while he was against privatisation of the port on a personal level, he did not think retaining full ownership was the best option for the region.

Councillor Paul Bailey voted against the sell down, saying the port should remain in Hawke's Bay ownership, something he felt the option to float up to 49% on the sharemarket would not achieve.

Councillor Debbie Hewitt also voted against the sell down, saying council was not only guardians of the environment but also of the port.

She said she didn't believe council had a mandate from the residents of Hawke's Bay to sell up to 49%.

"I think we've had a loud message from our constituents."

In written submissions, 57% supported a partial sell down, with 28% supporting a full ownership option.

Many people who supported a partial sell down had conditions around it, capping the sale lower than the proposed 49%, and ensuring residents in Hawke's Bay were given priority when it came to investing.

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Other submitters were split between a partial sell down to a private investor, leasing the port, or supporting none of the given options.

People who spoke during hearings on the port largely supported retaining full ownership.

The decision has been made "in principal," meaning it will be progressed, however remain subject to further advice.

As well making a decision around ownership, the council discussed the consultation process, overall agreeing the process had been robust.