Frequently Asked Questions

This section is being updated as the project progresses. 

1. What is Napier Port proposing?

Napier Port is seeking resource consents to build a new wharf at the northern end of the container terminal. It will be long enough (350 metres) and deep enough to handle larger vessels and will require the dredging of a berth pocket and swing basin. Two “dolphins’ or separate bollards will enable ships as long as 360 metres to berth there. As larger ships come, the Port may need to deepen and extend the shipping channel from its current consented maximum of 12.8 metres to 14.5 metres. Consents are also being sought for that future development.

2. Why is the development required? What are the expected benefits for our region?

Napier Port is the largest port in central New Zealand, processing more containers than Wellington, Nelson and New Plymouth combined.  

The Port is a crucial part of Hawke's Bay's export-led economy and demand for wharf space is growing rapidly. The additional wharf would increase our capacity to handle the expected doubling of log exports and a significant increase in apples and other horticultural produce. Getting Hawke’s Bay products to market is vital to the continued growth of the region’s economy.

Larger vessels are expected to start to visit New Zealand in the next few years. We have to have a wharf large enough for those ships or they will bypass Napier and our exporters will be disadvantaged, adversely impacting the regional economy.

3. Are ships getting bigger?

Yes. Container vessels in particular are getting longer, wider, and deeper. We’re also seeing this occurring in bulk vessels, and in the cruise area as well. Five years ago, the average cruise vessel was in the region of 260m. We recently welcomed the largest cruise vessel New Zealand has ever seen, Ovation of the Seas - at 348m long she is the largest ship Napier Port can berth inside the harbour.  The next generation of cruise vessels, the Oasis Class, is around 360m long and we’ve been told to expect those to arrive here in about four years. Large cruise ship visits are worth approximately $1M in passenger spend to the Hawke’s Bay economy – we cannot afford to let them sail past.

4. Has the Port had to turn away some of these vessels because it’s not big enough to handle them?

Yes. Each year, Napier Port receives around 5-6 enquiries from cruise lines wanting to call here and we simply cannot accommodate them because we do not have enough room.

As container and bulk cargo vessels get larger, we will also start to have trouble moving them within our harbour.

5. How is the project progressing?

Napier Port has spent around two years discussing the proposals with the community and commissioning technical reports to support the resource consent applications.

In December 2017, Napier Port lodged its applications with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC). Staff reviewed the application and it has now been formally notified under the Resource Management Act for submissions.  

Once submissions have closed with HBRC (on Tuesday 1st May) HBRC staff and independent advisers will write a report (called a Section 42A Report), and a hearing will be held.  The applications, the Section 42A report and all submissions, along with any additional information provided at the hearing will be considered by three Independent Commissioners. 

In terms of the development timeframe, this has not been finalised and will be driven by operational needs. However, from a practical point of view, we would estimate the wharf construction will take around two years and the dredging will take place progressively over a longer period.

 6. Why has Napier Port done early consultation?  

From the outset of the project, Napier Port made understanding stakeholder and community views a priority. We knew the more information we had, the better the project would be.

During the consultation process, Napier Port directly engaged with more than 2000 people through drop-in sessions, port tours, presentations to community groups and business organisations, customers and local authorities. Many thousands more heard about the project through information distributed through the media or direct to local letterboxes. Napier Port also received and answered hundreds of questions via a feedback portal on its website. To see more on our early consultation process see the Consultation Report here.

The information gathered through that process has had a direct impact on the final proposal. The project details have been changed to reflect this. New information supported by best-practice science, in particular the decision to move the disposal area for dredged material to east of the port (See FAQ 10 below), has resulted from a combination of public input and detailed investigations and modelling.

7. Where are you planning to dredge?

The Port already undertakes on-going maintenance dredging around its wharves and the shipping channel to keep berths at the required depths. We currently have a consented maximum depth of up to 12.8 metres and we are looking to dredge in stages to a new maximum of 14.5 metres and to extend the shipping channel as shown below. To see more on dredging stages go here.

8. How deep are you planning to dredge?

The applications seek consents to provide a new berth pocket and deepen the shipping channel from its current consented maximum of 12.8 metres to a maximum of 14.5 metres. 

9. How are you planning to remove the material?

The softer material is expected to be removed by suction and mechanical excavation of the harder material using a combination of back-hoe dredge (BHD) with barges and a trailer suction hopper dredge (TSHD). See more on the dredging process here.

10. Where are you planning to place the dredged material? 

Utilising and expanding the current disposal areas near Westshore Beach was our initial proposal. However, extensive discussions with some organisations and further scientific investigation revealed a range of issues with the large volume of material being disposed of in this location. It also confirmed that there has been little benefit to coastal processes at Westshore from the current maintenance disposal site located near Westshore Beach.

The site proposed in the application is approximately 5km east of the port. Approximately 3 million cubic metres of dredged material will be placed there, which is mostly very fine sand or silty material. The sea bed in the proposed disposal location has been investigated and has been found to be made up of similar material. At 20 metres deep it is less likely to be disturbed by wave motion during storms, and the prevailing currents head south – away from Pania Reef. 

11. What environmental effects will this have on Hawke Bay?

A total of 17 separate specialist reports, as well as an overall assessment of environmental effects (AEE), have been prepared as part of the resource consent applications. They show that the adverse impacts of the project are all minor or less, and that there will be significant benefits.  See The Application pages to see what the applications cover and to go through to the reports themselves here.

12. Will recreational activities such as fishing, diving and surfing be impacted by the proposed development?

No. Through pre-consultation, Napier Port spoke with and listened to a range of groups representing recreational activities occurring around the port, including fishers, divers, surfers and boaties. During meetings with those groups, we worked through the studies we were doing into potential impacts on those activities. Where there were concerns that hadn’t been addressed specifically, we endeavoured to include them in the studies as they were being carried out. In some cases, the project design has been changed to address concerns or mitigations have been proposed. In section 25 of the AEE we have summarised the key concerns and the steps where Napier Port proposed and carried out further studies. Many of the concerns were also addressed in specific technical reports as set out in full under Volume 3 of the supporting information. An example of this was the concerns raised by fishers about the potential impact to fishing areas in the near shore areas to Westshore and the potential impact upon Pania Reef. As a result, a new offshore disposal area was examined and has now been proposed as the new offshore disposal area for capital and maintenance dredging.

13. What work has been done to identify cultural values that could be impacted?

At the start of the project, Napier Port identified local Māori as key stakeholders in the project and set about identifying which hapū groups it needed to work with. With help from Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, Napier Port staff held kanohi ki te kanohi hui (face-to-face meetings) with a number of hapū representatives. Ngati Pārau, Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust and Mana Ahuriri Trust were identified as key stakeholders. Ngati Pārau, which whakapapa back to Pania (of the reef) was recommended as the key facilitator for a Cultural Impact Assessment. Napier Port commenced working directly with all three groups, as well as presenting to other Māori organisations. As the project progressed, the key hapū groups were kept informed and had access to relevant studies as they were completed, to help inform their views. The Cultural Impact Assessment is included in the studies forming part of the applications.

14. Will the beach on the western side of the Port be affected by the proposed development?

The wharf, extended swinging basin, and the deeper channel proposed will not impact on the beach on the western side of the Port, which is owned by the port. The wharf is proposed to be constructed on the northern edge of the existing container terminal, well away from the beach on the western side of the port.

The beach is highly popular and Napier Port has supported the amenity of this community asset including providing a beach shower and landscaping. Members of the community will be able to continue using this beach.  

Investigations into wave action, coastal processes and dredging show that there will be negligible impacts anywhere from the construction of the wharf and the dredging.

15. What is the total volume of material to be dredged?

Up to 3.2 million m3 of capital (or ‘new’) dredged material is planned to be removed from the shipping channel, swing basin and berth over the full project. Rather than carry out this work all at once, we proposed to do the capital dredging in 5 stages.

Stage 1 will be within the proposed new wharf, in the inner port area, swinging basin and part of the Deep Water Channel.

Stages 2 to 5 will include, in addition to deepening much of the Stage 1 areas, in the formation and deepening over time of a new channel near to the existing three channels. To see more on dredging go here.

16. How will Napier Port ensure the dredged material is not impacting on the environment?

Napier Port has done extensive modelling of how the dredge material will behave, both when being dredged and when being placed. A maintenance dredging campaign in 2017 was an opportunity to demonstrate that the models work.

When dredging is taking place, conditions such as weather, currents and the dredge plume, will be closely monitored. Modelling shows there is a very remote chance that the dredge plume could reach to Pania Reef but the monitoring approach proposed in the draft conditions of consent would see dredging halted if it started to head in that direction. Longer term, Napier Port will continue to undertake regular checks of the shipping channel, dredge disposal area and Pania Reef to make sure that the environment is not being adversely impacted by any material moving from the disposal area. Such monitoring will include scientists diving on the reef and disposal area to check for any ecological changes in the areas, and surveys of the shape of the seafloor.

17. What other options have you considered?

The Port has considered a range of different options to meet its needs, from not making any changes and reorganisation of the use of the existing wharves, to expanding the current breakwater and further reclamations, whilst also looking at other sites for a new berth within the Port.

The Port’s preferred option is the most flexible, balanced and economically prudent option, with the best outcome all round. This has been confirmed by the technical studies included in the application.

18. How much will the development cost and how will the Port pay for it?

At this stage it is estimated the wharf and dredging programme will cost around $125 million, including the construction of the wharf and dolphins, and the initial dredging of the berth and swing basin. A business case will be completed as part of the next stage of the process, which will put more detail around the costs and options for funding the wharf construction.

HBRC is also currently working through a Capital Structure Review which may also inform how the project will be funded.

19. Has any consideration been given to the noise that may be generated as a result of the proposed development? 

Yes. Napier Port takes how its activities impact on the surrounding community seriously. The Port has completed studies on the impacts of noise on neighbours. See more on noise here.

These show that during construction the ‘predicted noise levels’ for example, for pile driving, will be well within the current port noise restrictions as set out in the Napier City District Plan, as will be any long term increase in operational noise. This is in part because of the location of the new wharf is away from residential areas. The Port will also be preparing a noise management plan for the construction stage, and will keep the nearby community informed about the various stages of the construction programme.   

The studies also investigated how pile-driving and other construction noise may impact on marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins and seals. The applications propose ways to minimise the impact, including monitoring for marine mammals in the area and encouraging marine mammals to move away from the construction noise. 

 20. How do I make a submission to the Resource Consent applications? 

You can learn more about the process, see all the resource consent applications, AEE and technical studies and make a submission by going to HBRC's website here.