The "wall of wood" is upon Hawke's Bay, and action needs to be taken while the Port of Napier can still cope.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council's corporate and strategic committee heard this yesterday, when Port of Napier chairman Alasdair McLeod and acting chief executive Kristen Lie provided an update on the past financial year.
It had been an "extraordinary year", Mr Lie said, marked by a sudden influx of cargo after the closure of CentrePort, and increased total trade, translating to "record" revenue.
There had also been a 35 per cent increase in log numbers moving through the port to 1.6m tonnes, from 1.2million in 2016-17.
"The wall of wood, as far as we see ... that is upon us."
The port was "currently coping" with this boom but it posed a number of challenges, Mr McLeod said, with a predicted increase to 3 million tonnes in about five years.
The current increase was requiring the port to relocate space from other operations, made more difficult with the volume of shipping also "significantly up". The docking of bigger container and cruise ships at the port often required other wharves to be cleared for safety.
"In terms of dealing with the wall of wood that itself is not a problem, but when you provide it with bigger ships - both container and cruises - it's a juggling act that is now significant."
It was believed the port's proposed $125million wharf would help with the handling of more and bigger ships. The committee were also told there needed to be consideration on the effects of port traffic over the long term - with the doubling of traffic expected in the next decades.
Yesterday the committee was told the 2017-18 year saw the port achieve "record revenue" translating into a net profit up 46 per cent from the year before to $16.7 million.
This also meant the port had paid its largest dividend of $10.7 million to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's investment company -the Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBIRC).
In a separate item yesterday the committee also discussed the future of HBRIC, which has been in a "holding pattern" since the RWSS ended last year.