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Tuesday, 27 December 2016

CentrePort dredging put on hold

CentrePort has put work for dredging Wellington's harbour on hold following November's earthquake. This appears to be because the business is now in some trouble due to a number of its property developments - such as the BNZ building and Statistics NZ building - either requiring demolition or serious remedial work. There's talk of the port requring a bail-out from ratepayers or taxpayers.

This isn't to be celebrated, but again it raises the question of the Regional Council's ownership of the port company, and the structure of New Zealand's seaports generally. We have a listed (and partially regional council-owned) port company, Port of Tauranga, taking more an more market share off other ports such as CentrePort through inland ports, strategic alliances (NorthPort and PrimePort) and a sharper understanding of the market than its competitors. The Ministry of Transport points to this trend accelerating as more 6,000+ TEU "megaships" start to visit New Zealand and the international shipping lines rationalise their services down to fewer port visits.

The sensible thing for the Regional Council to do would be float CentrePort. If that results in Port of Tauranga or another port operator taking a share, then so be it. We're heading to port consolidation anyway.