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Record year for Napier port, $125 million development plan in sight

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Dec 11, 2017  _  After two-years of pre-consultation Napier Port is expecting to next week formally apply for permission to build a new $125 million berth wrote Tony Ashton in Saturdays Hawkes Bay Today..  The new berth, if consented would take about 18-months to two years to build.  The $125m development would allow larger cruise vessels as well as larger container ships.

"There is a physical maximum inside the basin that we can deal with. So this being on the outside does give us a little more flexibility", Napier Port chief executive Garth Cowie said.  "With the growth in larger container vessels likely to come and we have seen an uplift in vessels coming to Napier anyway, if the volume goes up, you either need more vessels or larger vessels. We are seeing it's predominately larger vessels, and that's going to need a step-change to handle vessels over 300 metres. That will need a berth just outside our current area."

Mr Cowie said the $125m investment was "really important" for the port's future.

Speaking at the Napier Port end of year breakfast today Mr Cowie said this year had seen the port record its highest ever volume levels, record profit and record revenue.

"Revenue rose to $86.7m - up from about $70m last so, year so a significant rise in revenue. Our after tax profit was $16.7m. Again, that's a 46 percent increase, part of that was paid to our shareholder.

"The 288,444 TEU was a record, up from 257,000 TEU last year. Again a lot of that is based out of region. Overall 12 percent growth has been a really great year.

"The Wall of Wood is certainly upon us - 1.6 million tonnes of logs during the year, up from 1.2 million. So over a 400,000 tonnage of growth. Again, that's huge and we're budgeting somewhere between 1.8m and 1.9m this coming year."

Mr Cowie said for this year the port was already 100,00 tonnes ahead of where it was at the same time last year.

"November was a record month for us with 218,000 tonnes. So if you extrapolate that out over a 12-month period, that's about 2.6m tonnes."

Mr Cowie, who leaves his post at the end of this month said he was happy to leave the port in great shape, adding that the last 18 and a half years at port chief executive had been an "absolute blast".

"Obviously it's in a great phase and that obviously sets the tone for a lot of the things the port's looking at."

"Bigger vessels are trickling down to New Zealand and we see those vessels coming to Napier in the long-term,because of the value of the cargo and certainly, we're very strong as a refrigerated container port. That bodes well in terms of why those bigger vessels are likely to call at Napier."

Napier Port Chairman Alasdair MacLeod said it had been a "momentous" year and praised Mr Cowie's dedication and inspirational leadership.

"He's led the port through 18 years of successive growth in revenue, growth and profit and I don't know another chief executive in New Zealand who can claim that - it's an absolutely amazing achievement."

Napier Port is owned by the Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company, on behalf of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Alex Walker said teh whole region benefited from the port.

"Central Hawke's bay is driven by agriculture, which is an export economy, so teh role of Napier Port is absolutely crucial for the value chain of our local economy. We also have to think about teh port's future in that regard and secure the port's future."

| A Hawkes Bay Today release  ||  December 9, 2017   |||