LYTTELTON Port Company has reported a revenue of NZ$181.7 in the 2023 financial year, up 12% on the previous year.

The New Zealand port also recorded its second largest container volume in FY2023 – it handled 455,457 TEU, which was a 9.3% decrease on the record volume handled in the previous financial year.

The total value of exports out of Lyttelton rose 4% to NZ$8.96 million, while imports grew by around 10% to NZ$6.6 billion.

The port company did not report year-on-year changes to its net profit after tax, which came to NZ$18.9 million.

It described FY23 as a year of challenges and successes.

“While we have seen challenging market conditions, we have also continued to see a strong health and safety focus and positive revenue growth,” LPC chair Barry Bragg said.

“The decline in TEU resulted from a number of factors: the impact of international and domestic economic conditions, labour pressures in our container terminal, and the loss of part of our berth length during the construction of our replacement ship-to-shore crane,” he said.

“The crane assembly was completed in June and provides flexibility for the port’s operations and maintenance schedule.”

LPC CEO Graeme Sumner said the steady NPAT figure was predominantly as a result of the decision to remove derelict inner harbour jetties at Lyttelton for environmental, and health and safety reasons.

“These jetties were a potential breeding ground for Mediterranean fanworm [species] sabella spallanzanii, threatening the wider ecosystem of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour,” Mr Sumner said.

Health and safety

Mr Bragg said there had been a significant increase in health and safety interactions and critical control checks throughout FY23.

“LPC has also continued to play its part in the industry-wide collaborative work led by Maritime New Zealand, implemented following the tragic loss of Don Grant at LPC on Anzac Day 2022,” he said.

A port worker was killed in an incident at Lyttelton Port in April last year.

The port said the incident resulted in charges laid against LPC, and that the port continues to work through that process.

“We have welcomed the initiatives that have come from that work and will work with industry partners and unions to improve the safety of our industry,” Mr Bragg said.

“Don’s family and workmates continue to be in our thoughts, and we remain committed to ensuring his memory is maintained and that the safety of our industry is lifted through what we learn from the tragedy.”

New infrastructure and return of cruise

October 2022 saw the return of large cruise vessels to Lyttelton for the first time since the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011.

LPC constructed and completed New Zealand’s first purpose-built cruise berth in 2019, with cruise ships returning after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The cruise season saw 120,000 passengers call at Lyttelton, substantially boosting the Canterbury region’s economy,” Mr Sumner said.

“However, the impact of passenger numbers on Lyttelton township needs to be managed, and we are working with the community, ChristchurchNZ, Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury and cruise lines to ensure the impact of the return of these vessels is minimised as much as possible.”

In FY23, LPC completed a three-year, NZ$85-million Eastern Development expansion project, increased the container terminal to 25 hectares, doubled refrigerated container storage and added new truck receipt and dispatch lanes.

LPC also commenced multi-million-dollar projects to upgrade and redevelop existing infrastructure to improve operational efficiencies, environmental compliance and health and safety.

“LPC is the South Island’s major maritime gateway and a critical part of New Zealand’s international supply chain, facilitating trade for the South Island and beyond,” Mr Sumner said.

“As a result, we take our commitment to ensure that we invest in the infrastructure required to keep the South Island moving seriously.”

And Mr Bragg said the coming year continues to present challenges, with cost pressures still in play and volumes likely to be still affected by global and domestic economic conditions.

“We will continue to focus on ensuring we maintain a prudent level of profitability for our shareholders while continuing to be able to deliver on our key purpose of facilitating trade for Canterbury and the South Island.”