New report recommends Auckland Port closure for 'more effective' infrastructure

The Port of Auckland could be facing closure, its major operations potentially moving to Northport - if the Government adopts working group recommendations.

The interim report has found the recommendations will benefit the entire Upper North Island, but National thinks the whole thing is an excuse to satisfy the Minister of Forestry, Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development, Shane Jones.

The report says congestion could become a thing of the past if Auckland's port moves its operations north. 

"I think it represents a recipe for more effective, export-orientated, internationally-focused infrastructure for New Zealanders," says Jones.

Released by Jones, the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy recommends Northport, located at Marsden Point near Whangarei, should be upgraded to have increased berthing space, a container terminal, space for vehicle imports and upgraded rail and roading.

"There's an enormous capacity for growth in that area," he says.

The $10 billion option would keep the port of Tauranga as it is, and leave Auckland solely as a cruise terminal.

Auckland's waterfront is currently dotted with thousands of containers, cars and cranes. Under the preferred option, it could be freed up for more green spaces, housing and public access to the waterfront.

"That has some opportunities for us, but we also have $600 million invested in that port company and we're not giving that away for nothing," says Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

Like 62 percent of Aucklanders, Goff supports the move - but he says the costs and benefits need to be evaluated.

"There needs to be a pretty strong and robust case from our point of view that this will benefit Auckland and we'll be properly compensated," says Goff.

National is sceptical, claiming it's a political play to back up a New Zealand First pet project.

"The real concern is the report is all about the political interests of Shane Jones and New Zealand First. It's not necessarily about the economic interests of Northland or the economic interests of Aucklanders," says National MP for Hutt South, Chris Bishop.

Jones argues the report is "not a New Zealand First exclusive initiative". 

"This is something that's been mandated by the Cabinet of the New Zealand Government," he told Newshub.

A final report will be delivered to Cabinet next month.