The shipping news is mostly bad for Auckland retailers needing to stock up before Christmas. One has only to cast an eye to the Rangitoto Channel to see ships queued for a berth.
Frustration is rising as Ports of Auckland struggles to unload imports, forcing some freighters to bypass the city and offload further south, only for the goods to be railroaded back.
Maersk, the world's biggest container shipping line, said eight of its vessels on the Oceania to East Coast North America route have bypassed Auckland since September 1. Freight Forwarders Federation president Chris Edwards told MediaWorks: "Ships are bypassing Auckland to go to Tauranga, or now - worse - not coming to New Zealand at all."
Delays at Auckland cause knock-on impacts. Exporters trying to get goods to market are being held up as Tauranga - our largest outgoing port - is busy with import overflows.
Some blame the issues at Auckland on the extended implementation of a five-year-old container terminal automation project, now not due to go fully live until the end of March.
The port company itself admits container ships are waiting between eight and 10 days to berth but blames pressure on global shipping from Covid-19 disruption, as well as port labour strikes in Australia, and changed import patterns.
Spokesperson Matt Ball said automation was "actually working well".
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"While we have labour shortages which are impacting the speed at which we can handle ships, the speed at which we can handle trucks is exactly the same on the automation grid as the manual grid." He said the port need 50 more stevedores and hoped to have them on site by Christmas - just five weeks away.
This can only add grist to those wanting Auckland port operations shifted to Whangārei, although there is no evidence to suggest Northport wouldn't be similarly overwhelmed by the prevailing conditions.
International shipping is responsible for the carriage of around 90 per cent of world trade and port congestion is increasing around the world. Felixstowe Port in Suffolk, UK, is reportedly in chaos. Congestion across UK ports has spread into towns and villages where" container stacks" have begun piling up. Chinese ports of Jingtang, Caofeidian, Huanghua and Bayuquan have delays for a discharge berth ranging from two or three weeks up to three months.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O'Connor signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The partnership is a trade agreement between 15 economies in the Asia Pacific region, home to almost a third of the world's population.
This signals to the world we are ready to trade, while the reality at our ports is clearly not.
It has previously been floated that more could be can be achieved with moving Ports of Auckland Limited to a mix of local authority and sharemarket ownership.
Ultimately New Zealand needs port consolidation. Efficiencies need to be found now and long-term solutions should be on the agenda for new Transport Minister Michael Wood.