WASHINGTON: Tainui Group Holdings last week announced it was seeking expressions of interest from a range of world class port operators for Ruakura, the major new inland port it proposes developing near Hamilton. However, the logical potential partners, the Port of Tauranga and Ports of Auckland, at this stage do not seem likely to become involved.
“Port neutrality – providing the flexibility for importers and exporters to access both seaports so they can get the best deals and manage risks is a key part of the Ruakura proposition,” said Tainui Group Holdings chief executive Chris Joblin.
A Tainui Group Holdings spokesman confirmed that Mr Joblin had been accurately quoted in a report this week saying the developer was looking for a New Zealand or overseas-based port operator that had no existing ties with the Port of Tauranga or Ports of Auckland. However, the spokesman said Tainui Group Holdings remained in dialogue with the Port of Tauranga on a range of port-related issues.
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns confirmed the port had been in regular dialogue with Tainui Group Holdings about the site. “But our approach has been to wait until we have a foundation shipper customer to establish a freight hub in Hamilton,” he said.
That approach is consistent with the Tauranga port’s recent strategic developments, including its 10-year deal with Kotahi Logistics, which has effectively allowed it to lock up the majority of Fonterra’s North Island dairy exports. Kotahi already has a major warehouse hub at Crawford St in Hamilton.