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Northport Strategy

This page contains a news article about the proposed movement of shipping activity from Ports of Auckland to Northport at Marsden Point.
Updated: 16/01/2020 5:02 a.m.
Picture of Northport as seen from the headlands.
​Northport at Marsden Point

​Work preparing for the kind of growth that moving the Port of Auckland to Northport would bring to the Marsden / Ruakaka area has been going on for years, according to a report to be considered by Whangarei District Council on 19 December.

The report by Chief Executive Rob Forlong outlines strategy that includes advocating for development in the area and ensuring that planning requirements are shaped to make it as easy as possible for the Royal New Zealand Navy and Ports of Auckland to relocate here.

“For the last 15 years, Council has recognised and planned for growth of Marsden Point and Ruakaka area. Plans have included Marsden Point/Ruakaka becoming a satellite city to Whangarei with between 15,000 and 34,000 residents, and in part, projected growth has been anticipated to come from continued expansion of Northport activities.

“Moving the Ports of Auckland up here would increase that growth and would have a significant positive impact on our District. It would boost our economy, and the support industries and services that will come with the port offer opportunities like jobs, training and access to more services to our wider community,” he said.

Mr Forlong said an economic analysis estimates that a full move of port activity to Northport would generate an additional 2,000 jobs per year and a net economic benefit of $200 million over 30 years - Economic Analysis of Upper North Island Supply Chain Scenarios, Ministry of Transport (2019).

“In addition, the Navy is currently considering only two options for its future base - to stay at Devonport or to move most or all of its facilities and many of its 2,000 staff to Whangarei. We have been advocating for the Navy to relocate from Devonport to Whangarei for many years and have made a strong case for Whangarei as a future naval base.

“We have also advocated for some or all of the Ports of Auckland to be moved to Northport. Elected members have made a number of strong public statements of support going back at least to 2017 (e.g. HWM in February and September 2017).”

He said there are still things to be worked on further if a port or Navy move is given the green light, including planning for the long term to ensure:

  • there is enough industrial land to accommodate future growth
  • planning is not just for the port and Navy, but also freight and logistics infrastructure
  • identify better transport links between Marsden / Ruakaka and Whangarei and Auckland
  • the infrastructure that is needed is planned and funded through Council’s Long Term Plan and Infrastructure Strategy
  • environmental outcomes, including resilience to climate change are considered.

“We will need to understand what we as a Council need to do to help facilitate a move by the Port or the Navy.

We also must ensure that, through what will be a billion-dollar programme, we get great outcomes for our community such as a four-lane highway and rail line to Auckland.

The rail line is looking increasingly likely, but the road remains at risk.

Council will continue to advocate for the road as our top priority to be brought into the next Government Policy Statement for roading.

“Regardless of any decisions regarding the future of Northport, the Ports of Auckland and the Navy, strong indications are that this area is going to grow significantly. We are preparing for and encouraging that growth, signalling strongly to government that it is in its interests to prepare too.”


Further reading 

Download the full report:

Northport Strategy Report [972kb]




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