Advocate reporting team: Peter de Graaf, Jenny Ling, Adam Pearse, Mikaela Collins, Kristin Edge, Julia Czerwonatis, Imran Ali, John Stone, Michael Cunningham and David Fisher
Even at the furthest reaches of our region, in beautiful and isolated Te Hapua in the furthest north, there is enthusiasm and hope over the proposed shift of Auckland's port to Marsden Point.
Caregiver Sandy Waenga, 59, offers a qualified support, like many of those spoken to by the Northern Advocate.
''I think it would be really good for the Far North. Hopefully it will bring jobs. The disadvantage could be the effect on marine life, we don't want any spillages — that will ruin our food supply."
Her message for the government: ''Do your homework, prepare well, and make sure you look after our marine life.''
This week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last week that Cabinet supported in principle moving the Ports of Auckland, noting its present location was no longer sustainable. So the murmur became a roar as our mayors and civic leaders stepped forward, along with business, community and iwi leaders.
We wanted to know what you thought, and so set forth for the furthest reaches of our readership to find what you had to say.
Waenga's ambitions and concerns echoed across the North. Ask more questions, you told us, bring us the jobs and save our roads. And care for the environment that is so much a part of the joy we find in living in Tai Tokerau.
Coming south from Te Hapua, the buzz continued. Keep it local, warns Kaitaia's Julie Stevens, 39, who tutors adults. "If Auckland's going to bring up its employees then we're going to miss out." It's not just good for jobs but the businesses that provide work, says Paddy Dunn, 73, a checkout supervisor.
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They should be manufacturing businesses, says barrister Richard Parangi, 44. Doing so would "revive our economy", acting as a springboard to get manufacturing north of Whangārei. "Currently, with the costs involved, it's just not a tenable prospect and as a result we send our kids to different urban areas to gain employment."
The mighty Hokianga is home to some of the country's most challenging social statistics. Jobs and roads occupied locals Lise Strathdee, 55, retailer and Shannon Tindal, 65, retired of Kohukohu, Rawene business owner Brett Ward, 53, and skipper Jack Korewha, 49, also of Rawene. It was Korewha who said, "they need to chuck us a bone - especially for the young fellahs".
And Kohukohu's Malcolm Tindal, 67, retired, had an eye on the future. "The thing is, shipping is going to get larger and larger." Marsden Point has the deep harbour - "they have to cater for these larger ships".
In Panguru - on the road west toward beautiful Mitimiti - there was carer Julia Hohaia, 72. Better roads, she says, and "to keep the logging trucks off the roads". Steve Tipene, 47, is a crane driver from Panguru who lives in West Auckland. More work in the North, he says, would give people who moved elsewhere "better opportunities to move back home".
The North was "screamed for rail services", says Lah Herk, 46, a pōtae (hat) maker from Taupō Bay. "If we can get logs on to rail it's going to be safer, guaranteed." Get the rail link up and running, says conservation worker Rolien Elliot, 59, of Kerikeri. "The last thing people want to see is more trucks on the road between Auckland and Whangarei." Handyman Trevor Jones, 67, of Waipapa, was keen to see trucks off the road.
Jobs, says typist June Shirley, 69, of Cable Bay. Jobs, says travel agent Ashleigh Dent, 32, of Peria. Jobs, said Kerikeri chef Leanne Boyer-Toto, 46, and teacher Heather Mackay, 73, of Kerikeri.
"Northland has such a high rate of unemployment, and Whangarei really needs a boost." Growth, industry and jobs, says music teacher Julian Brady, 65, of Waipapa.
Oh yes jobs, says Bay of Islands college teacher Andrew Smith. "I imagine there could be great opportunities for trades and long-term jobs." Jobs, says Ōkaihau business owner Jackie Poole, 54. But she's sceptical politicians will follow through. "I just can't see the political willpower to do it."
That determination is what Kerikeri business owner Luanne Vacy-Lyle, 34, was keen to see. "As we know the wheels turn slowly, so let's be quicker rather than slower."
Across the region feelings of neglect were common. Legal administrator Tai Kamira, 39, of Pakaraka, spoke of this: "Our region has been neglected for far too long. We need this opportunity to make our communities thrive." Rob Type, 68, of Ohaewai, had a similar view. "Northland seems to be forgotten from Auckland north." Carol Type, 63, a McDonald's shift manager, has a message for leaders: "Stop mucking around and get on with it."
Jobs, says Kaikohe's Monty Tito, 66, who works as an instructor at Ngawha prison. In Moerewa, Caleb Brown-Maunsell, 20, was savouring the prospect of starting work soon. Where he lives, there's a the possibility of the rail line from Whangarei being restored through to Otiria. "Taking the trucks off the road would make it safer."
Chris Hedges, 65, retired, of the Bay of Islands, wanted the infrastructure in place first.
"My gut feeling is the rail link will be quite useful then you won't have as much on the roads." Paihia hospitality worker Laura Travers, 23, was also focused on roads. "Tourists complain about the traffic."
Noma Shepherd, 83, of Kawakawa, worries "it might change our whole way of living". Others voiced a similar concern. Rail and employment, says Kawakawa project manager Lau'rell Pratt, 43. "'Just commit to it and get on with it'."
Kawakawa business student Meghshyam Prakash, 17, was positive but urged consultation with Maori. "I've heard the iwi there haven't been consulted on the environmental and psychological impacts on their community."
One of the few dissenting voices came from Kawakawa. Potter Vaughan Hemara, 47, said: "I think it's a waste of money and a waste of time." Split it up, he says. Leave some there and let NorthPort become a specialist importer.
Media manager Helen Locke, 52, also wasn't fully decided. Industry and opportunity, yes.
"It will bring Auckland closer to Whangārei. One of the reasons I live up here is the distance we have from big cities."
It's hardly surprising to find support for rail in this town, with the tracks down the main road and its steam enthusiasts. Norman Mackie, 73, retired, and Mike Bradshaw, 80, who describes himself as a "railwayman", and says: "This is the first time a government has made positive noises about it and probably has had the money." Susan Blair, 68, of Kawakawa tells our leaders: "Do it."
On the road south is Rochelle McCaw, 41, a payroll administrator from Towai. "Obviously we're severely lacking in jobs in Northland so it would be a great bonus."
Again in Whangarei, it was jobs, jobs and jobs. That was cleaner Jenny Porter, 30. Jobs, said waitress Sophia Wetzel, 20, of Tikipunga. And jobs, said Raumanga locals, hospital administrator Chris Croft, 64, and NorthTec tutor Dan Croft, 62. Croft says: "As a trainer up here, I've put guys through courses up here and they've got nothing to go to and it gets worse further up the country."
Without hesitation, Whangarei's Hohepa Clark, 50, said: "I want it." The disability support worker said: "We need something here to hold our young people in our town. If we can't supply them work, what's to hold them here?"
Youth worker Jon Renes, 57, of Onerahi, cautioned over the impact on workers in Auckland. "It's great that Auckland gets its harbourside back but what about the displacement of those workers?" If they move, where is the housing?"
Student Josiah Connelly, of Onerahi, could see the job possibilities but had another hope, too. "It might mean it brings more interesting people to the region."
Paul Yovich, 48, of Kamo, was looking to council to work with businesses to make sure the infrastructure needed to support the growth was in place. "It's positive but there needs to be a collaborative approach. The message for politicians is get moving, business will get behind this."
Retailer Kody Stephenson, 32, of Tikipunga had concerns over the impact on fish and shellfish stocks - "as would all keen recreational divers and fisherman". Ben Winder, 42, a parent of Whangarei, was balancing the benefit of jobs and the potential for an adverse environmental impact. "I'm just waiting on more detail."
And roads, roads, roads. The port as a solution to this constant Northland bugbear was voiced by waitress Tash Dunn, 19, of Maunu, Diane Grinter, 66, of Parihaka, and Ruakaka locals: counsellor Carol Tolley, 55; genealogist Janet Forsythe, 61; and Mark Penhall, 58. Won't be cheap though, says Ashley Osborne, 83, a linotype operator from Ruakaka.
"They will have to do their homework and be prepared to spend a hell lot of money."
Take note of Brian Salmon, 83, retired of Kamo. "Get on with it," he says. Take too long, and he reckons he might not be around to see it. The political possibilities were alive in the mind of Whangarei principal Pat Newman, 66. "If they manage to get rail fixed up here, the region might go red."
Over in Dargaville, pensioner Barry Jones, 80, was concerned over the cost of getting freight from Whangarei to Auckland, where it was consumed. "A compromise might be to have part of the port remain in Auckland and the rest in Northland."
The boom from the port move would "work wonders for the poverty of spirit" afflicting many in the North, says Margaret Bishop, 63, of Dargaville.
Potential environmental harm troubled Dargaville's Rebecca Davidson, 47, a parent, and Baylys Beach community health worker, Cara Donaldson, 46.
Paparoa school principal Simon Schuster was excited - jobs for the North and freeing Auckland's waterfront for entertainment and tourism. "There is no down side. I can't wait."
Bring the port, says hospice carer May Pivac, 66, of Kaihu. She wants a focus on training for Maori to get into skilled work at the port.
Keep the jobs local, says artist Mandy Wood, 57, of Mangawhare. Jobs, says Te Kopuru school principal Lee Anderson, 63. Jobs! Dargaville engineer Beau Bryers, 33, could see the possibilities. "I think it would be a great opportunity to create jobs in Northland," says nurse Kirsten Mason of Arapohue.
Retired firefighter Richard Raines, 70, of Langs Beach, wanted certainty around rail as a transport option for freight. Without that, build a dedicated road for trucks, he says.