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This will be a huge decade for Bream Bay

This page contains an opinion-piece by Mayor Sheryl Mai about growth in the Bream Bay area.
Updated: 13/01/2020 8:35 a.m.
Picture of Mayor Sheryl Mai.
​Mayor Sheryl Mai

​The following is an introduction written by Mayor Sheryl Mai for the Bream Bay Special edition of the Advocate, January 2020.

Last year, I remember ending my message in this publication with the words ‘the future is bright for Bream Bay in 2019, and beyond’. I think we can all agree we are well on the way to that coming true.

Bream Bay is continuing to grow in popularity, the housing sector is continuing to develop, and the industrial and economic future for the area is absolutely off the charts.

I almost struggle to put into words how excited I am about the future for the Bream Bay area. The next decade is beyond bright, it’s dazzling.

Let’s start with the hottest topic of the moment – Ports of Auckland. Cabinet has given the green light for freight operations to move away from Auckland, and Whangarei District Council has been a long-time advocate for some (or all) functions of Ports of Auckland to be moved to Northport.

Leaders of the North are united in support of the Port transition but are also well aware that many steps need to take place first. Environmental impact reports, connections with local hapu, an in-depth assessment of intermodal infrastructure requirements and many more reviews must be undertaken. Any move north for the Ports will be done sensitively and with due diligence.

For all of this to happen, improved road and rail links are essential. Whangarei District Council has been lobbying strongly for an improved state highway south from Whangārei for many years.

Photo of wet sand at Bream Bay, sunset.
Bream Bay has many paths to follow. Photo by B. Spragg (Flickr/volvob12b)


It’s obvious that the Government has a strong regional development focus, with $94.8 million from the Provincial Growth Fund allocated to an upgrade of the Auckland-Whangārei railway line. This injection of funding into our region has given increased confidence to investors and commercial operations and comes at the ideal time for development of Northport.

Another boost for Whangārei District is the proposed move north for the Royal New Zealand Navy base. The move proposes that facilities (and up to 2,000 staff) move North to locations in Whangārei and Bream Bay, bringing another large boost to the population.

Our role in these proposals is to ensure that plans are in place to make it as easy as possible for the two operations to relocate.

Council also enables connections and conversations with the communities and stakeholders who will be affected by these decisions.

Recent growth statistics have shown that the total population for the Bream Bay area (including Waipu, Ruakaka, Marsden Bay and Bream Bay) has increased by more than 32% in the last 6 years, going from 7,800 to 10,360.

Whangarei District Council has been planning for this level of growth for at least 15 years. Council’s Growth Strategy identified Marsden Point as a key growth area for our District, with a projected population of 15,000 to 34,000 people.

Council is fully in support of the Bream Bay expansion projects, and we have worked hard for many years behind the scenes to ensure the framework is in place for healthy, sustainable growth.

Let’s embrace the bright future of Bream Bay – without being blinded by the light! 



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