Northland's civic leaders have united in a single voice: We want New Zealand's major port to be Northport.
The statement came from Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith after a meeting of all of Northland's mayors and most of its elected councillors.
As chairman of the Northland Mayoral Forum, he said: "Today the leaders of the North stood up and spoke with one voice, that they are in support of the idea of Northport being New Zealand's major port."
It followed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing that Cabinet was unanimous that Ports of Auckland would move from its central city location.
Where it will move, and when, has yet to be decided. The report recommending the port be moved to Marsden Point in Northland will be released this week by Cabinet minister Shane Jones.
The Advocate has a copy of the Upper North Island Supply Chain working group's report and it promises an economic boom for the North if the $10 billion port move goes ahead.
Among prospects on offer are thousands of extra jobs each year and the development of rail and road links.
Further details are expected to be released before Christmas - information that will be seized on by Smith, Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai, Far North mayor John Carter and Penny Smart, chairwoman of the Northland Regional Council, which owns a substantial shareholding in Northport.
They met in Whangarei yesterday - along with councillors - to be briefed on the proposed port move by Mangonui businessman Wayne Brown, who led the supply chain working group.
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Smith said the briefing from Brown provided information civic leaders had not previously had while also raising questions needing answers.
He said it there was also a need to engage with and hear from the North's other leaders - from iwi, business, environmental interests and industry.
"The elected leaders of the North are absolutely standing up and saying 'we're here'. We absolutely support this being looked at. There wasn't a single dissenting voice."
Smith said the North had previously been looked at as a "divided" region. "Those days are absolutely past."
He said the port's proposed move was "not an Olympic bid" - "no one has come to the North and said 'make your pitch'."
"Our case is largely made - it's been made for millions of years (and is) this incredible deep water port. This idea - it's time has come. There is nothing stronger than an idea whose time has come."
He said shipping was forecast to change massively in the century ahead and Brown's briefing included advice New Zealand would be left out without an extraordinary offer.
"Marsden Point is your extraordinary port location."
Smith said those present at the meeting would spend the summer in focused discussion on the issue, leading into the Northland Mayoral Forum in February to which Cabinet ministers would be invited to pass on expectations and information.
They would also have the benefit of Brown's full report - to be released by Jones on Thursday - and further advice from government officials to be released by Christmas.
Smith said those present at today's meeting - a closed door session from which the Advocate was ejected - had questions over cost, environmental impact, accompanying rail infrastructure, the possibilities for coastal shipping, among other issues.
Brown told the Advocate afterwards his message to the mayors and councillors was "make some noise".
"If the government decision is not to do this, make some more noise. Tell them they have it wrong."
Ardern announced Cabinet's backing of moving the Ports of Auckland at a Beehive press conference after Cabinet met today.
"The real question for us as a government to properly assess is where it will be relocated to and when. That is a multi-billion dollar question.
"It is our duty on behalf of New Zealanders to look at the evidence base… and get that decision right."
Infrastructure minister Shane Jones - also Minister of Regional Economic Development - said he would be speaking to Northland leaders over summer.
"It's important all of the civic leaders and economic leaders of the North stand up. They are essentially at a crossroads. Arguably, this is the biggest infrastructure decision they will participate in during their lives.
"They should stand up and represent the interests of the North."
Jones said he planned to release advice from officials before Christmas, including reports questioning the move North.
"I may not fully agree but have never stood in the way of civil servants testing their ideas because at the end of the day the power lies with the politicians through the electoral process."
National MP Matt King, who holds the Northland seat, offered only qualified support for the port to move North until he read the working group report.
"If the numbers and the business case support it then you would be crazy not to support it. It's such a massive infrastructure spend that would have to be supported by good numbers."