It now seems highly possible the bulk of Auckland's port activities will be relocated to Northland.
The issue has been increasingly debated, cosmetically as a way to rid the city of the imported car and container eyesore and open the waterfront space for public use. But the impetus for change - a report's finding that it is "no longer economically or environmentally viable" - is stark.
Cabinet is set to consider the final report from the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy working group it commissioned to investigate the issue.
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The group recommends a managed closure of Auckland port and the development of Northport as the best option for freight movements in the upper North Island and the country. Cruise ships would stay, but it calls for legislation to enable the freight-component move north to Whangārei should a commercial agreement between Ports of Auckland and Northport not be brokered.
There is no doubt the scale and cost (some $10 billion) of the undertaking is confronting, but there has been general consensus for some time about the limited lifespan of Auckland port, and the cost of doing nothing.
The debate is still fractious, however.
Ports of Auckland Ltd is fully owned by Auckland Council. Freshly elected Auckland mayor Phil Goff - who has previously actively promoted ways to clear the cars off the wharf area - now has to represent the council's interest as 100 per cent owner. It was reported he wanted $600m compensation if the port moves, but the development potential of the prime land is seen as compensation enough.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett has also been quoted as saying the idea is "stupid" and "political".
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The working group has been led by Mangonui businessman and former Far North mayor Wayne Brown - and has been promoted by NZ First under its coalition agreement with Labour. Northlander Shane Jones, bestower of the Provincial Growth Fund, would get to deliver what he calls the "King Kong of infrastructure projects" to his region.
Yet, the idea is not new. It has been advocated by many before and polls show Aucklanders in general support the idea of transforming the area into public space.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has all but given a move the seal of approval, saying the move is not a matter of if, but when and where.
If the business case stacks up, it looks to have every chance of becoming reality.
Relocation would undeniably mean a significant economic investment in Whangārei and Northland in general, creating jobs galore as, and after, the necessary infrastructure is built, operated and maintained.
Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai, unsurprisingly, would welcome the infrastructure boom and clearly the "go" button cannot be pushed soon enough for her.
National Party leader Simon Bridges has dismissed the idea, however, as "hot air". His Tauranga electorate and local port have no small interest in the matter but the continued planned expansion there seems assured.
Yet in Auckland, there is little doubt about the growing and competing interests of industry (be it freight containers, car imports or cruise ships), the public and the environment.
It is certainly right the Government has the final say. The decision must be made in the national interest. It is too big for commercial operators or even cities to decide on in isolation and, should relocation go ahead, too big to let fail.