Buying further out means bigger house and smaller mortgage but more time on the road

Like thousands of Aucklanders, Ngati Whatua Orakei have been disappointed by the way Ports of Auckland has vowed to push ahead with its planned Bledisloe Wharf extensions, despite strong public opposition.

The Waitemata is a taonga tuku iho - a sacred treasure for Ngati Whatua Orakei and for all Aucklanders. It's a place of cultural and social importance. It's the gateway to our city, a treasure that needs care, for now and for our generations who follow.

Ngati Whatua Orakei has real concerns about the wider impact of the company's current direction. To us it seems short-sighted.

The company claims the extensions will future-proof it for the coming 30 years - but then what? Further extensions? Further reclamation? Ports of Auckland appears to be in a hurry to undertake works that will have a long-lasting impact. However, it is unclear why these works must proceed at such great pace. The Ports-commissioned NZIER report does not identify any immediate need for expansion. Now the company's attempt to justify the extensions - because ships are getting larger - is unconvincing.


We accept demands on the port will increase. We also accept it is a key part of Auckland's economy and infrastructure. But decisions that are ultimately for the convenience of the company must not compromise the long-term future of Auckland and its jewel, the Waitemata.

As the local mana whenua (guardians) we have a real interest in Auckland's success. We are supportive of well thought-through development. We believe there is a brighter, sustainable solution for this great city of ours and the Waitemata.

We agree with Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town that the company "has not engaged sufficiently with key stakeholders". Its disregard for both Mr Town's call for a delay and the public voice is frustrating. Further reclamation seems likely. Communication needs to be much more open and transparent if we are to have confidence in the company's intentions.

We believe the future of the Waitemata must be considered holistically - not simply whether shoes or TVs can be delivered more easily or cheaply.

My family are fourth-generation wharfies. Both my grandfathers worked on the wharves in the 1950s beside their brothers, my father and uncles in the 70s, and the next generation in the 90s. Today my nephews and cousins work at Ports. For more than 60 years the company has provided economic sustenance for my family, as they have for many hundreds of families. We truly want it to be successful.

Auckland needs long-term thinking for our waterfront. Ngati Whatua Orakei would like to see a full study into the economic, environmental and social impacts of a growing port. The Auckland Council was right to call a halt to development until a wider study is completed. Twelve months will hardly cause the port and its business network to fail.

The company claims shifting the port or sending freight elsewhere will "choke" Auckland's economy, and mean more trucks on the road. However, it sidesteps the fact bigger ships mean more containers, which will mean more trucks. But these issues have yet to be considered properly. Auckland has significant problems with traffic already; this will only be compounded by a larger port.

More than 175 years ago, our hapu invited the British administration to settle on the shores of the Waitemata. We have history here. We are one of the port's biggest neighbours. Yet we have not been included in the conversation.


Its chief executive, Tony Gibson, wrote in the Herald last week: "We can't handle Auckland's growth without some extra room." Ngati Whatua Orakei owns 22ha between the port and the state highway network, including land surrounding the rail system. We want to be a part of the solution. If Mr Gibson is genuine about listening to Aucklanders, then we encourage him to take some time and engage. Our door is open.

Previously, Ngati Whatua Orakei called for a 100-year plan for the Auckland port. We still think that is a good timeframe for consideration. It's important we look at the bigger picture before making decisions that could be difficult to unwind.

We encourage the company and the council to invite the community to participate in a full impact report, and to consider the long-term future of the port. The company already has consent for the extensions, it can push "play" whenever it wants. But it must remember, the Waitemata is not a development site, it's a taonga for all of Auckland.

Rangimarie Hunia is a director on Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust and Whai Rawa Ltd, the hapu's commercial arm.