Not for sale signs go up in port city

Hawke’s Bay Weekend, Hawke’s Bay by Doug Laing 25 Mar 2017

Napier MP Stuart Nash is taking to the streets with a campaign to stop sale of any part of Napier Port company, Port of Napier Ltd.

Mr Nash says he wants a written assurance that the company, a whollyowned subsidiary of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council assets arm Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co, and won’t give up till he gets it.

Similar to his high-profile “No to Amalgamation” campaign in 2014-2015, Mr Nash yesterday started erecting “Napier Port Not For Sale” billboards on 10 prominent sites around Napier, starting with the intersection of Hyderabad Rd and Meeanee Quay, the entry to port suburb Ahuriri.

“I will only take them down if I get a formal assurance, in writing from the chairman, that no part of the Port (company) will be sold,” he said.

He does, however, have two fallback positions, being if a sale is to Napier City Council or done within the formation of a larger structure formed to own the Port and other regional assets such as Hawke’s Bay Airport.

“I would agree,” he said. “The Port is owned by the people of Hawke’s Bay. They should have a really big say. I’m not very happy with the Regional Council.” He complained of a lack of public consultation in the sale of 50 years of income from its leasehold lands to the ACC (announced three years ago and yielding $37.4 million) and the spending of “$20 million” on the Ruataniwha Dam proposal – “without the turning of a single sod of soil”.

“It was really quite ingenuous how they went about it,” he said. “They sold the income from the leasehold because they can’t sell the land.” But he is proposing people will have some say on the Port issue, at a meeting being planned for June 23.

The option of selling part of the port company – but not any land was raised by Napier Port chief executive Garth Cowie earlier this month when discussing possibilities for financing new infrastructure of over $100 million, which he said could be “years away” with no decisions yet.

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