Stand by Northland - Cabinet is about to consider a report that appears to strongly recommend moving Ports of Auckland to Whangārei.
The report is the final produced by a working group led by Mangonui businessman and former Far North mayor Wayne Brown.
It says Ports of Auckland is "no longer economically or environmentally viable" and that government should push through legislation to move it north if a commercial agreement can't be reached with Northport.
Brown told the Advocate major shipping operators spoken to for the report had spoken of the limited lifespan of Auckland's port.
"That means you have to start now."
If it goes ahead, it promises a boom for Whangārei and the wider North. The project is tipped to cost $10 billion and would require $1.6bn spent on rail and see massive development at Marsden Point and surrounding areas.
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The shift north has been described by Northland's Shane Jones - the Minister who provided the funding for the report - as the "King Kong of infrastructure projects".
He said the proposal was expensive but there was no alternative that wasn't.
"Even doing nothing is going to cost an enormous amount of money."
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Jones said he would ask Cabinet to push the proposal through but would not release details until then.
"What's we're trying to drive is nation-building. For a host commentators, it's pie in the sky but my eye is firmly on the prize."
He said the project, if approved, would need extra investment and strong commercial skills to drive it to completion.
"I think Auckland needs to be unshackled. What are the major steps and execution challenges we will face in order to deliver that space at the end of Queen Street back to Aucklanders sans a port?"
Jones panned the mooted four-lane highway north from Auckland, saying roading development needed to start south of Whangārei.
Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said there had been no success pitching to government for improved roading and rail links but the possible port shift would trigger an infrastructure boom.
She said the area around Marsden Point offered the promise of a natural deep water harbour, land for housing and a good water supply.
"We're definitely very excited about the prospect."
Asked what would be done to encourage government, Mai said: "We're prepared to chew off their left arm."
Mai said the move should have happened a decade ago.
"Given it didn't happen 10 years ago, we should start now."
The work towards the port move came out of the coalition agreement between Labour and NZ First, with money for the working group came from the Provincial Growth Fund, overseen by Jones. The fund has also seen $300m provided for work on the existing rail line between Auckland and Whangārei.
The area may also see the Royal New Zealand Navy move its operations from Auckland to Whangārei with a decision being made on defence assets by Cabinet in September next year.