Former Far North mayor Wayne Brown is slamming a report calling for Ports of Auckland to be moved to Manukau Harbour as ''junk'' and ''a joke''.

Brown led a 2018 study calling for Auckland's overcrowded port to be moved to Northport at Whangārei's Marsden Pt, which has natural deep water and plenty of space for expansion.

The Mangonui-based businessman said his Upper North Island Supply Chain Study was carried out by experts in infrastructure, truck, rail and sea freight, exports and economics, and consulted 80 different groups before backing Northport - the deepwater port at Marsden Pt - as the best replacement for Auckland's CBD-based port.

And Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said she thinks Northport is the best option for the future port.


In a second report commissioned by the Government and released on Tuesday, however, Sapere consultant group picked Auckland's large but shallow Manukau Harbour as the frontrunner, with the Firth of Thames as the second best site for a new port.

Brown, however, said his group rejected Manukau Harbour for a raft of reasons.

''We ignored it straight away because (a) ships go down the other side of the island on their way from China to South America; (b) it has a dangerous sandbar at the entrance; (c) it's shallow and would need constant dredging; and (d) there's no land there for the onshore port stuff. It [the report] is junk. It's just a joke.''

The Manukau Bar was the site of New Zealand's worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the Orpheus in 1860 with the loss of 189 lives.

A new report has opted for Manukau Harbour over NorthPort (pictured) as the best option for relocating Ports of Auckland. Photo / Northport, Fullmoon Photography
A new report has opted for Manukau Harbour over NorthPort (pictured) as the best option for relocating Ports of Auckland. Photo / Northport, Fullmoon Photography

Maritime insurers were still reluctant to cover shipping over the bar, Brown said.

Brown was also critical of the cost of the second report — $2 million compared to the $800,000 prize tag for his study — and said the Government should demand a refund.

''The only person who thinks this is a good idea is [Auckland mayor] Phil Goff, and I bet he hasn't offered to go through the Manukau Heads in a boat.''

He urged Northlanders to get behind the ''once in a lifetime opportunity'' to develop Northport or risk losing it.


Mai, meanwhile, said she was still convinced a Northport-Ports of Auckland combination was the best option.

As the best deep-water port in the country, Northport would never have to be dredged, and with most freight travelling down the east coast a Manukau port would require a major shift in shipping movements.

''So to me it [the Manukau Harbour option] doesn't really stack up. Also, we're investing in rail infrastructure to Northport and road transport connections to Northland — the benefits of those would need to be maximised by using more of the capabilities of Northport,'' she said.

The Government has deferred any decision on the ports move until after the election.

The Manukau currently has a small port operation at Onehunga which is being phased out. Its main use until recently was for cement shipments from the west coast of the South Island.

■ Brown is holding a public information meeting about the Northport proposal on July 22. It will start at 5.30pm at the Cornerstone Church at the corner of the Heritage Bypass in Kerikeri.

Subscribe to Premium