Northland MP Matt King has been accused of throwing a ''hissy fit'' by walking out of a public meeting about a proposal to move Auckland's port to Northland.

King, however, says event organiser Wayne Brown had turned an information evening into a New Zealand First campaign meeting, and he only walked out when Brown told people how to vote.

Brown, a former Far North mayor, was the lead author of a 2019 report which recommended Ports of Auckland be closed to all but cruise ships with the rest of its operations transferred to Northport.

The Government later commissioned a second report which called for the port to be moved to Manukau Harbour or the Firth of Thames instead.


An estimated 80 people turned out to the meeting at Kerikeri's Cornerstone Church on Wednesday evening to hear Brown put his case for Northport.

They included Kerikeri resident Jill Smith, who wanted to ask King his view on moving the port to Northland — but didn't get a chance because the MP ''stormed out in a hissy fit'' before the question and answer session, she said.

''We all know what Wayne's like. I don't always agree with him but sometimes I learn from hearing him out ... I feel Matt lost a golden opportunity to put across his party's position on the port.''

Smith initially had some misgivings about whether the meeting would turn into a NZ First campaign rally but thought Brown had presented his arguments well.

''He did make the odd quip but I felt Matt should have risen above that.''

Smith said Northland voters weren't stupid and understood the problems with the competing Manukau port proposal.

Port report writer and former Far North Mayor Wayne Brown. Photo / Tania Whyte
Port report writer and former Far North Mayor Wayne Brown. Photo / Tania Whyte

Former Kerikeri Business Association chairman Bill Fenton said King's walk-out came as Brown presented his last slide ranking various politicians by influence and offering his prediction that Jacinda Ardern would win September's election.

''I think Matt threw a bit of a huff. He accused Wayne of political bias and walked out,'' Fenton said.


''He [Brown] was trying to put the case for Northport and explaining what people in the industry had told him. Of course it was political, you've got [Economic Development Minister Phil] Twyford and [Auckland Mayor Phil] Goff arguing for the Manukau.''

King said the port move was being used by NZ First in a bid to get re-elected, and Brown was campaigning for the party under the guise of an information meeting.

Brown had ''slagged off'' anyone who opposed his views, including other members of the National Party, port bosses and Twyford, and some of the slides he had presented were misleading.

''When he put the slide up about who to vote for, I decided I'd had enough,'' King said.

As he left the meeting King said he told Brown, ''You've denigrated a whole bunch of people with more intellect than you'', but in hindsight felt he shouldn't have said that.

King said he supported the expansion of Northport to its maximum footprint, better co-operation between the ports at Whangārei, Auckland and Tauranga, and Northport taking the overflow from Ports of Auckland.


''But the idea that Auckland's port should be shut down with Northport taking over its operations is just ridiculous,'' he said.

Brown denied trying to sway anyone's vote.

''I just pointed out, if you like this idea [the port move], these are the people you can choose from. I didn't tell them who to vote for.''

He was not a member of NZ First and nor were there, to his knowledge, any party members at the meeting.

Brown said he had been paid for his part in preparing the port report but that ended in November last year.

''I'm not getting anything out of this. I just think it's a good idea.''