Auckland Aerial Harbour

The recent announcement that two 100m long concrete structures will protrude into the already crowded jewel in Auckland’s crown, its lovely harbour, is proving difficult for the Mayor to reconcile with his election promise of no more loss of harbour space.

Semantics are coming into play here to save skins. Apparently, he only meant commercial port operations, not cruise liners. This means he probably thinks cruise liners are not commercial, which is sort of true. Experience in the Bay of Islands is that the promised economic bounty from cruise liners has not only failed to arrive but in fact tourism incomes there have dropped.

Prior to cruise liners arriving, tourists hired cars, drove to the Bay of Islands and stayed for three or four days during which they went out on boat trips, ate at restaurants etc. Now the cruise liner arrives and with it a mob who wander around the town buying a few trinkets then head back to the boat for the lovely free lunches on board.

Auckland probably does better as crews and passengers change here using the airport. They would still do so even if the biggest cruise liners anchored in the harbour and were ferried ashore. Now hulking big boats like apartment blocks without Resource Consents will tie up using the 100m of concrete mooring dolphins and dominating the downtown vistas where they will compete with the even uglier slab-sided car carriers.

So much for Ludo Campbell-Reid’s well-intentioned visual improvements to Quay Street, which will have the added but unintended consequence of worsening port-driven truck congestion, but it will look nicer.

The port has taken the Mayor’s directive about “no more harbour lost” to mean no more harbour reclamation, but new concrete wharves on piles is ok. Tell that to the boaties!

The supposed saving grace for these 100m concrete intrusions is that they are “temporary” for 15 years. In NZ there is nothing more permanent than something called temporary. Teachers and engineers were trained for 25 years after the end of World War 2 in temporary buildings erected by the US Air Force that were supposed to come down at the end of the war.

These new 100m concrete dolphins will no doubt be welcomed by harbour-loving Aucklanders along with the new 5 storey carpark on the downtown wharves and with the enormous new multi-million-dollar cranes sitting un-used on the end of the container wharf. The irony of erecting a new carpark building for the sole use of vehicle importers at a time when budgetry pressure on Auckland City sees them selling the carparks that Aucklanders do use is lost on the council. These three expensive follies certainly put the lie to the words Council Controlled in relation to Ports of Auckland and Auckland Transport who definitely have agendas of their own.

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