Napier hits back over criticised upgrade plan

Port of Napier Napier has been criticised for its growth plans. Credit: Port of Napier
Industry Database

The owner of New Zealand’s Napier Port has dismissed concerns about its planned NZD$350m upgrade and that the port’s recent growth could be short-lived.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council could sell up to 45% of Napier to fund the port’s growth requirements, but as public consultation begins on funding options, New Zealand Shipping Federation executive director Annabel Young said most of the port’s extra business is due to Napier taking business from Centreport following the Kaikoura earthquake, reported Radio New Zealand.

Ms Young stated that "Centreport thinks it is going to claw back its trade and Napier thinks it's going to hang on to it,” stressing that a plan involving any extra charges would end up impacting customers the most. However, Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairperson Rex Graham said that was "nonsense".

Weighing up options

Expansion options include the council's preferred option of listing up to 49% of the business on the stock market; finding an investment partner; a long-term leaseholder; or keeping 100% ownership and making ratepayers foot the bill by hiking rates by 53% next year.

Another proposal by Councillor Paul Bailey is for the port to take on more debt to pay for the upgrade and then charge its customers an extra fee to make up the cost.

While Ms Young stated that “my worry is if they expand and those large ships don't come then it gets added to the pricing chain and you end up paying for it in your packet of biscuits,” Mr Graham said that all “our commodity prices are at all time highs. I've never seen the Hawke's Bay economy as strong as this in my working life.”

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