Port company slams ‘blockade’.

The log ship Timaru Star escorted through the channel by port tugs. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

Trying to stop 50,000 tonne ships using small boats is ‘silly’ say Port of Tauranga CEO Mark Cairns today.

“To me the silliest thing is, we remember five years ago we had the Rena running aground. These ships can’t stop,” says Mark, commenting on this morning’s ‘blockade’ of the Tauranga harbour entrance.

(Ngai Te Rangi Iwi annouced it was blockading the port today to protest the Crown’s decsion to admit Hauraki iwi representatives onto the Tauranga Moana Governance Group).

“If they stop (their engines) guess what happens, they end up on the centre bank. So they’re not only putting their own lives at risk, they are risking a hell of an environmental consequence,’ says Mark.

“I respect their right to peaceful protest, but to be putting a waka in the channel and thinking they are going to stop a 50,000 tonne vessel is a pretty silly thing to do.

“We’re working with police and the harbourmaster, encouraging them to take strong action if they risk their own lives getting in the way of these vessels.  But like I said, if they want to have peaceful protests on the side of the channel, that’s their right.”

If the protesters do succeed in delaying any shipping, Ngai Te Rangi Iwi would be liable to legal action from the ship owners and operators, says Mark.

Charter fees for the big container ships are in the region of $US50,000 a day, plus the ships would incur additional berthage costs – all of which the iwi could be sued for.

“I understand the background to it,’ says Mark. “That’s a matter they need to be taking to the Minister. And if they feel he’s not listening I respect their right to peaceful protest but it’s pretty silly to be putting people’s lives at risk.’

Police were out in the entrance with the harbourmaster today speaking to the skippers of the vessels and taking photos.

Protester Jack Thatcher says the blockade is not aimed at or intended to impede the port operations. Only two ships were expected to arrive today, with two departures scheduled for tonight.

“There’s not much shipping at all, so we are not really impeding anything," says Jack. "The whole thing is not about the port. It’s about our making a statement to the Crown in regards to settlements being made that give rights to iwi outside of our area.

“This is just making a statement that we are unhappy.  It gives them certain rights to our land, buildings, and enables them to interact within the moana in terms of local authorities.

“We are angry at that so we are making our statement here.”

It is understood that Hauraki affiliated iwi are pushing for a seat on the Tauranga Moana Governance Group currently comprising Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui, Ngati Pukenga, plus four representatives from the three local authorities and one from the Crown.

More on SunLive...
You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now

Skip the dramatisation folks and get off you backside

Posted on 16-06-2017 11:28 | By Murray.Guy

Skip the dramatization folks, there was no unreasonable risk, the Port of Tauranga or its’ customers were in any way inconvenienced from what I read. It seems, not surprisingly, that there may be claim jumpers to suit their own ends and locally three Iwi are saying, bugger off! Well, from where I sit I represent, am part of a forth Iwi (Ngati Tauranga) and I’m telling any claim jumpers to bugger off as well. This is our space, our place and collectively we need to protect, enhance our patch. As individuals, as a community, generally we are slow (if ever) to get off our backsides and create awareness of injustices, slow to send a message to the ’law makers’, and it seems in this case the message may have got through.

Easy Solution

Posted on 16-06-2017 10:22 | By Kaimai

Ask for some of the Hauraki "pie".


Posted on 16-06-2017 08:54 | By overit

How can you blame the Port for the Rena. The Capt. was not at the helm, it was his birthday and there was a party on board. Someone decided to take a short cut.

Port worried about the environment?

Posted on 16-06-2017 08:12 | By johndoe

What a laugh. Mark Cairns complaining that Iwi might cause damage to the environment? The Port has a history of non-compliance, hand in hand with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. You were the cause of the Rena disaster too. Look at yourselves before flinging the mud against Iwi.

It Never Stops

Posted on 15-06-2017 19:18 | By rosbo

Unlike other claims where Maori constantly seek money, apologies and land, this is simply between themselves. Why should the rest of us have to be involved?


Posted on 15-06-2017 18:50 | By CONDOR

Saying it is silly is like a wet bus ticket ticking off. Mr Cairns climb into these drongos and tell them to rack off or call in the Police via Bay Regional Council and chuck them out of the shipping lanes zone now.For gods sake stop being namby pamby PC and show some mongrel just for once.

they are risking a hell of an environmental consequence

Posted on 15-06-2017 17:58 | By GreertonCynic

Really? Isn’t any vessel of that size under the control of the pilot and a couple of tugs? Can they come into the harbour under their own steam?? (Commenting as a welder so I know nothing. Except life jackets would probably be a good idea.)

Lying low

Posted on 15-06-2017 15:59 | By awaroa

Where were you and your political influence Mark when Rena ran aground? Nowhere to be seen. The POT were central to why Rena took the short cut in the first place but would you reach into your deep pockets or use your influence to help rectify the damage to the environment? Never.

Iwi rights

Posted on 15-06-2017 15:23 | By surfsup

Can understand the frustration, bit like Treaty settlements to tribes that never signed it, guess you can’t have it both ways.


Posted on 15-06-2017 15:19 | By MaureenR

Whats wrong with dialogue these days, this is plain silly someone going to get seriously hurt this way.

Get Real

Posted on 15-06-2017 15:08 | By waiknot

ort of Tauranga CEO Mark Cairns is the voice of reason and common sense. Personally I think the protest is a just one but the action is wrong dangerous and attacks the life blood of Tauranga.