TAINUI Group Holdings and Port of Tauranga have announced they plan to develop a 50:50 joint venture to make the Ruakura Inland Port at Hamilton a reality within two years.

The joint venture is to take an initial 50-year ground lease to establish the inland port, and plans to start port operations at Ruakura after the opening of the nearby Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, scheduled for the end of 2021.

Parekawhia McLean, Chair of Te Whakakitenga o Waikato, the Waikato-Tainui parliament said the iwi is pleased to team up with New Zealand’s largest international hub port to bring Ruakura Inland Port to life.

“It’s exciting to confirm a concrete path forward for this project of national significance which will unlock economic, social and environmental benefits for New Zealand, our region and our iwi,” Ms McLean said.

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Port of Tauranga chief executive, Mark Cairns, said there was a strong logic to team up with Tainui Group Holdings to unlock benefits for importers and exporters.

“This new partnership adds to our strong and growing capacity to serve the Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions,” Mr Cairns said.

“It combines our own expertise in developing and operating ports, the deep regional connections of Tainui Group Holdings and the scale and efficiencies offered by Ruakura and its road and rail connections.

Tainui Group Holdings chief executive Chris Joblin said the shared strategic interest with Port of Tauranga had become clear.

“This agreement brings clarity and certainty to the development of Ruakura Inland Port and signals we are open for business,” Mr Joblin said.

“As the largest port in New Zealand, Port of Tauranga will bring world class expertise in developing and running ports.”

Port of Tauranga and Tainui Group Holdings have been in talks since initially signing a rail services agreement in mid-August last year to enable Port of Tauranga’s cargo trains running between MetroPort Auckland and Tauranga to service Ruakura Inland Port.

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