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NZ's inter-modal infrastructure-0000Kiwi exporters risk being exposed to longer transit times and excessive cargo handling that will result in greater risks and higher costs unless the nation makes wise infrastructure decisions.

The global economic downturn has brought protracted changes to New Zealand’s export markets. As the world talks about the spectre of recovery, we know that it will take some time for the resurgence to be felt in New Zealand.

The flipside of any crisis is that of new opportunities. As the country’s most significant port, and therefore, an important key player in the New Zealand supply chain, Ports of Auckland is responsible for contributing and developing new and more efficient supply chains. 

In the immediate term, we want to support the recovery of the export trades with the best customer service and productivity. Over the longer-term, we want to expand our means to deliver greater benefits through more effective supply chains.  Overall – our purpose is to help improve New Zealand’s ability to compete successfully in global markets. Already, Ports of Auckland is in a prime position to have a major impact on the country’s trading future. We are ready to cater to the next generation of larger container ships with a deep shipping lane and increased capacity.

The presence of these ships in our waters will no doubt herald an improved supply chain service for exporters, with the goal being a series of well-timed spoke services calling around the country and ending in major hubs for trans-shipment.

That said, for New Zealand to reap the benefits of this proposed future, we have to be ready both inside and outside the port gates.

Ports of Auckland is actively playing its part with a range of initiatives. Our vision is to be the best port company in Australasia, with world-class performance, and in a major step towards this goal, we have recently consolidated our container operations over the Fergusson container terminal.


With all stevedoring staff now based at the Fergusson terminal, we are better equipped to deliver to our customers, and are better placed to resource peak periods. We are also looking forward to the efficiency and productivity improvements the change will bring over the coming months. 

A series of productivity initiatives have also made a mark on key measurements such as crane rate and staff hours per container – with respective improvements of 8.6% and 7.0% for the 2009 half Year (January to June) compared to the same period last year.

Several key initiatives including dual cycling (where vessels are being unloaded and loaded in the same cycle rather than sequentially); the twin-lifting of containers; and the dual-direction straddle driving have all helped lifted productivity to new highs almost monthly. 

The introduction of new Business Rules in conjunction with a new online shipment Management system is also enabling us to greatly reduce the number of internal ‘wasted’ container moves. With better information prior to container delivery, we’re able to position containers optimally and plan our wharf space more intelligently – ultimately generating more capacity and the ability to service vessels and trucks quicker.

Outside the port gates, the Ports of Auckland is also making headway in ensuring the region’s future container transport capabilities are up to scratch.  The development of a rail-siding at our Wiri Inland Port is due for completion at the end of this year, and the resulting connection with the Waitemata seaport will allow exporters to enjoy greater use of the increased service options available at the inland port facility.

So, the opportunity exists for New Zealand, as a nation, to capitalise on such initiatives and investments with strategic decisions that can cater to our long-term business growth.

While Australian ports are currently investing hundreds of millions on infrastructure, there is an ongoing risk that New Zealand could become a spoke off the major hub routes of international shipping. This would leave exporters with increased transit times, further handling of cargo and therefore increased risks and costs.


The country needs a complementary, efficient, multi-modal transport network outside port gates to ensure we can efficiently deal with the changes ahead – more specifically the larger influx of volumes that larger ships will bring and take away.

I think, as a country, we need a greater insight into the intricacies and peculiarities of the New Zealand supply chain and current freight task through ongoing data collection.

From this, we will be able to make better-informed and better-coordinated decisions about infrastructure, strategy and investment to both prepare ourselves for the coming changes and challenges, and to ensure we are supporting the vital export markets as best possible.

In the meantime, Ports of Auckland will continue to work to provide a world-class service to meet the needs of our exporters, and contribute to an efficient and effective supply-chain to protect and enhance New Zealand’s ability to trade.

Editor’s note: The views expressed above may not necessarily reflect the view of this magazine but we are happy to provide the space for gutsy opinion.

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