Ports of Auckland
Review and History

The Ports of Auckland is on the North Island of New Zealand. Ports of Auckland is located some 345 kilometers northwest of the Port of Napier and over 500 kilometers north of the Port of Wellington, two other ports on the North Island. Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and seaport. It is one of few cities with harbors on two different water bodies. The Ports of Auckland rests on a narrow strip of land between Waitemata Harbor to the east and Manukau Harbor to the southwest. In 2006, over 404 thousand people lived in the city of Auckland, and over 1.2 million called the urban area home.

The Ports of Auckland is the economic center of New Zealand, and most large international corporations have offices there. Its central business district contains many financial and business service companies, while the industrial and commercial zones are located in South Auckland along the Tamaki River estuary and the Manukau Harbour. The Ports of Auckland is a hub of road and rail transportation, and it is home to the country's main international airport. The Ports of Auckland area contains important engineering and publishing companies, and its manufacturers produce glass, paint, plastics, cement, and a host of consumer goods. Food processing, sugar refining, and brewing are important to the local economy, as are vehicle assembly and shipbuilding.

Port History

The history of the Ports of Auckland is as old as the Waitemata and Manukau Harbors and the early port of Onehunga which was important to the survival of the young settlements in Auckland.

Containing fertile soil, the Tamaki Makaurau was settled by the Maori in the middle 14th Century with fortified villages built on volcanic peaks. The shores of the Waitemata were a hub for people and for the trade of goods for many hundreds of years. Before Europeans arrived in the Ports of Auckland area, about 20 thousand Maori lived in the area.

Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand in 1642, and Captain James Cook mapped the coastline in 1769. The Ports of Auckland was established after British colonists arrived there. Europeans brought firearms, followed by intense warfare between the native tribes and driving native populations out of the area and making way for European settlement.

In 1835, the first European settlers arrived in the Ports of Auckland's Manukau Harbour. They bought land from the indigenous Maori and established a settlement in 1840. When retired soldiers were brought in to help defend Auckland from the Maori, the settlement of Onehunga was established.

After the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, the Ports of Auckland was capital of New Zealand until 1865 when the administrative center was moved to Wellington. Even so, the Ports of Auckland continued to grow with immigration. In the early 1860s, the Ports of Auckland was the base against the Maori King Movement and expanding European influence into the region.

Even though the Ports of Auckland facilities were not adequate, the Auckland township grew as a center for maritime trade. By 1843, more than three thousand people lived in the town, and most of the made their living directly or indirectly from port activities.

In 1853, responsibility for managing the Waitemata Harbor was transferred from the Governor to the Auckland Provincial Council. During the following couple of decades, the Council improved the port. The Council added the Queen Street Wharf to accommodate ocean-going vessels, a quay on Customs Street for small ships and coastal vessels, and a breakwater.

The latter half of the 19th Century was a period of rapid growth for both the new country of New Zealand and its ports. Twenty-six of the country's 112 ports were involved in overseas trade, particularly with Australia and England. The Ports of Auckland played an important role in linking commercial services and shipping with farmers, timber millers, and gum diggers in the region. By the early 1870s, the Ports of Auckland's population was over 12 thousand.

In the late 1800s, Onehunga had also become a busy port of call for coastal vessels with routes between New Zealand's ports. Passenger steamers also operated between Onehunga and many ports on New Zealand's west coast.

In 1863, the worst maritime disaster in the history of New Zealand made clear the limitations of the Ports of Auckland's Onehunga port. A 1700-ton steam corvette, the HMS Orpheus, struck the Manukau Bar at 1:30 in the afternoon. By 9pm, the mast disappeared below the water surface. Out of 250 passengers, only 70 survived.

In 1871, the Auckland Harbour Board was established by an act of Parliament. An elected board and a permanent staff administered the Ports of Auckland. In 1875, an act of Parliament gave the Board more than two thousand hectares of the seabed in Waitemata Harbor.

As cargo volume increased, the Board made significant improvements to the Ports of Auckland including reclaiming lands on Auckland's foreshore. Better Ports of Auckland dockyards were established, and a new railway wharf was added. By the end of the 19th Century, the Ports of Auckland was also a busy passenger port with travelers bound for Sydney, San Francisco, and London.

In the early 20th Century, developments were completed between the modern Princes Wharf and Kings Wharf in the Ports of Auckland. In 1913, the Auckland Harbour Board became responsible for the management and operation of the Manukau Harbour and the Onehunga Port. Within the Auckland area, the wooden Queen Street Wharf was replaced by concrete, and the Marsden Wharf was completed. The Ports of Auckland's Captain Cook Wharf opened in 1922. The Prince of Wales visited Auckland in 1921, and the Princes Wharf was completed in 1923. By 1931, the Western Reclamation and Western Wharf extension were finished.

During World War II, part of the United States' Pacific fleet was based in the Ports of Auckland. Over 100 warships and 280 transporters called at the Ports of Auckland in 1943, and the need for more storage facilities became apparent. The Ports of Auckland engaged in near-constant reclamation work to cope with the increasing demand.

In 1948, the Bledisloe Wharf in the Ports of Auckland was opened to handle frozen cargoes for export. In the 1950s, cargo volumes moving through the Onehunga port increased, and the growth continued into the mid-1960s. Dedicated to imports, Auckland's Jellicoe Wharf was finished in 1952, and the Freyberg Wharf was completed in 1961.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the shipping industry went through major changes as new technology and machines replaced labor-intensive operations. Containerization was revolutionary. In 1971, the Ports of Auckland's Fergusson Container Terminal was built to handle containers, and the Bledisloe Wharf was converted for containerized cargoes. In 1971, the Columbus New Zealand, called at the Ports of Auckland Fergusson container terminal and was unloaded using the first ship-to-shore container crane in the country. The Onehunga port began handling containers in 1982.

In 1988, New Zealand's Parliament passed legislation to change the structure of port management. Ports of Auckland Limited was formed, and it purchased the land and assets of the Auckland Harbour Board and took over commercial port operations. Listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, the Auckland Regional Authority owned 80% of the shares, and the Waikato Regional Council owned 20%. During its first years, the Ports of Auckland increased efficiency and productivity dramatically.

The Ports of Auckland has continued to work to improve productivity and efficiency since the early 1990s, and capacity has continued to increase. New container cranes were added in 2001 and 2006, and the Ports of Auckland has focused on rail and supply chain solutions. In 2002, the first inland port at East Tamaki was opened by the Ports of Auckland. In 2005, the Ports of Auckland opened another inland port at Wiri in South Auckland.

The Ports of Auckland has continued to do reclamation work at the Fergusson Container Terminal. In 2003, efforts began to deepen the shipping lane and to expand the terminal by 9.5 hectares. The new shipping lane opened in 2007, and the first phase of the terminal extension was finished in 2007.

Ports of Auckland has also been moving gradually towards the east, opening over 70 hectares of land to alternative uses since 1996. In 2007, the land in the Western Reclamation was transferred to the Wynyard Quarter redevelopment. Ports of Auckland Limited was delisted from the Stock Exchange in 2005, and Auckland Regional Holdings, an arm of the Auckland Regional Council, owns 100% of the company today. Profits are reinvested in the region to support infrastructure and stormwater control projects.

Today, the Ports of Auckland is the country's biggest international container port. The Port operates 24 hours a day throughout the year and services over 1700 ship calls, 4 million tons of breakbulk cargo, and over 770 thousand TEUs of containerized cargo each year. The Ports of Auckland is responsible for ensuring an efficient supply chain for containers and developing container hub operations. Near the busy and growing industrial area of South Auckland, the Ports of Auckland continues to get a constant flow of vessels carrying coastal goods as well as the local fishing fleet.

With water area of 394 square kilometers, the Ports of Auckland's Manukau Harbour is one of the largest inlets on New Zealand's west coast. Unfortunately, navigation is limited due to the numerous tidal sand bars, including a curving sand bar that stretches across the harbor entrance, making it very narrow.

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