Fon­terra freight hub could be in Hamil­ton

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

Dairy jug­ger­naut Fon­terra is eye­ing Hamil­ton for its sec­ond $100 mil­lion-plus re­gional freight hub de­vel­op­ment, as recog­ni­tion of the Waikato as an im­por­tant fu­ture im­port and ex­port axis gath­ers steam.

New Zealand’s big­gest com­pany was ex­pected to have out­grown ca­pac­ity at its big six-year-old $100m Craw­ford St stores and freight hub com­plex at Te Rapa within two to four years and was look­ing for a sec­ond site, said Fon­terra di­rec­tor of group sup­ply chain Joe Coote.

Fon­terra was well aware of Tainui Group Hold­ings’ plan for a 400-plus hectare, $3 bil­lion in­land port on its land at Ruakura, he said. But there were other good sites, in­clud­ing the ‘‘in­ter­est­ing’’ North­gate in­dus­trial park land north of Te Rapa.

‘‘A lot of freight comes up from the lower North Is­land to Auck­land and Tau­ranga (ports) and in my mind will con­tinue to come up through the Waikato.’’

Mr Coote said the likely in­vest­ment in the sec­ond freight hub would be ‘‘at least $100 mil­lion’’.

Fon­terra is the sec­ond big com­pany in a week to an­nounce it is con­sid­er­ing the Waikato for freight lo­gis­tics de­vel­op­ment.

Port of Tau­ranga chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Cairns said his com­pany was eye­ing the re­gion for an in­land port. The an­nounce­ment by global ship­ping gi­ant Maersk that it was switch­ing 52 ship calls to Tau­ranga from Auck­land had sharp­ened the fo­cus on the Waikato, Mr Cairns said. Trans­port of­fi­cials pre­dicted that by 2031 the Waikato would be the big­gest gen­er­a­tor of freight in the coun­try.

Global lo­gis­tics com­pany Main­freight said Hamil­ton was a high pri­or­ity for ex­pand­ing its freight fa­cil­i­ties. The com­pany, cur­rently based in Te Rapa had de­vel­op­ment site irons in the fire, said man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Don Braid.

Any fu­ture Main­freight hub had to be served by rail. The Ruakura op­tion was ‘‘four years away and we need some­thing sooner’’, Mr Braid said.

Ki­wirail chief ex­ec­u­tive Jim Quinn said the Ruakura pro­posal was an ex­cit­ing idea and his com­pany was work­ing with in­ter­ested par­ties.

‘‘But a lot more work is re­quired to re­ally un­der­stand what the po­ten­tial is and how much it will be an in­land port ver­sus a freight vil­lage.’’

Tainui Group Hold­ings chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Po­hio said the Ruakura project was dif­fer­ent from other com­pa­nies’ freight hub plans be­cause it was ‘‘mas­ter planned’’ for 50 to 100 years into the fu­ture. It would not be de­vel­oped in a frag­mented way by dif­fer­ent par­ties.

Busi­ness­day.co.nz

DRIV­ING FOR­WARD: Fon­terra is the sec­ond big com­pany in a week to an­nounce it is con­sid­er­ing the Waikato for a freight de­vel­op­ment.

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