In December 2018 the Ngati Porou Holding Company withdrew from a joint venture, involving Eastland Port, to look at the feasibility of a new port at Wharekahika Hicks Bay.
The question of building a port at Hicks Bay had been an on-and-off discussion for several decades. The last in-depth report on this was undertaken in the mid-1970s, more than 40 years ago.
In 2016 the Holdco decided to take a fresh look at a Hicks Bay port. The reason for doing so was to investigate better transportation infrastructure in the northern part of Ngati Porou and, so, cut the costs that local landowners face in getting their logs and other commodities to market. In short, to help grow the economic prospects of our district.
Holdco commissioned a preliminary report on the design, cost and economic benefits of a new port. This first-up report would also assess social, environmental and cultural impacts a port might have at Wharekahika and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, the report outlined a design, and cost to build, that was well beyond what Holdco considered to be financially or environmentally viable. Nonetheless, the report did set out some technical information that could prove useful for a further, in-depth, study.
In 2017 Holdco, Eastland Port, and a private developer began talks to form a joint venture (JV) to do an in-depth study on a Hicks Bay port. Holdco’s own report remained confidential while the prospect of a JV was taking shape. But, in the 18 months that followed, it became clear that whanau at Wharekahika had become strongly opposed to the prospect of a new port in their area, and were even opposed to a feasibility study being completed.
In December Holdco recognised that, without broad community support, it would be impractical to stay in the JV and undertake the final study. Holdco formally withdrew from the JV and advised Wharekahika hapu and community leaders of its decision.
In pulling out of the JV, Holdco also decided that its own preliminary report should be made available to the Wharekahika community and to other interested Ngati Porou. If you are a registered member of Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, and you wish to receive a copy of the summary report, please send your request to the Holdco secretary: JAta@tronp.org.nz.