Why the Government's $1.8 million report into Auckland port move has been labelled a waste of money

The Government's latest $1.8 million report into the Ports of Auckland has been labelled a waste of money. 

It favours moving operations to Auckland's Manukau Harbour over Northland, but the author of a previous report says taxpayers should demand their money back. 

It's a shiny new report that's received a less than glowing review.

"Well it would be hard to imagine anything could be done more hopelessly, really - and the result that they've come up with is laughable to be quite honest," said Wayne Brown, the previous report chair.

The result? Moving port operations in Auckland to the Manukau Harbour - a finding Brown labels "a disgrace".

A disgrace, because Brown's earlier report recommended a move to Northland. He says the authors of this one aren't qualified. 

"The people who wrote this report are health economists, whereas the people who wrote my report were experienced in infrastructure," he said.

The new report by independent consultancy firm Sapere considered five relocation options. It found Manukau could accommodate freight increases over 60 years or more, whereas Northport would hit capacity in 30 years.

The cherry on top is Manukau's close proximity to freight destinations.

"It's done by a respected economic consultancy group that was supported both by the previous National Government and the current Labour-led Government. It's more reliable and not politically driven," Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said.

But Wayne Brown says Manukau is plagued with problems. 

"There's no free land inside the harbour for the port operations... The harbour is shallow; it has a very dangerous shifting sandbar at the entrance," he explained.

The former Far North Mayor says that will require a lot of dredging - costly for the port and the environment - and another Northland man, Shane Jones, agrees. 

"Over the most treacherous bar in any New Zealand harbour - it makes me wonder whether the authors were in a different bar when they came together and wrote this report," the Associate Transport Minister said.

There's also an issue with travel. 

"The shipping distances would be much bigger - and in any proposal to move the port just presupposes that people will use the port," NZ Shipping Federation's Annabel Young says.

"But it could be that ships bypass a Manukau Harbour port because it's just not on the way."

Any decision on moving the port could be some way off. Transport Minister Phil Twyford says delays from COVID-19 mean it's now up to the future Government to decide where the port will be located.