Port of Tauranga wins Southern Star deal

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 17:04 16/07/2014

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Global shipping firm Maersk says its decision to shift its Southern Star service from Auckland back to Tauranga is  part of a revamp of its services, including a new one that will be announced within two weeks.

Maersk has announced that the Southern Star, which links New Zealand with Malaysia, Singapore and Brisbane, will make its North Island call at Tauranga from August 6.

Its smaller service, the Northern Star, will move from Tauranga to Auckland.

Port of Tauranga initially picked up the Southern Star business two years ago when there was industrial action at the Ports of Auckland.

Most of Fonterra's North Island exports also moved to Tauranga and stayed there while the Southern Star reverted to Auckland after the strike action ended.

Maersk's New Zealand managing director Gerard Morrison said the Southern Star had returned to Auckland due to customer demand.

But recent 10-year contracts between itself and Fonterra-Silver Fern Farms logistics offshoot, Kotahi, and between Kotahi and Port of Tauranga had increased the amount of freight it expected to receive through Tauranga.

Port of Tauranga shares leapt 41c to $15.51 in late afternoon trade after the announcement.  

The port's chief executive, Mark Cairns, said he expected Maersk's decision would bring 8 to 9 per cent more container business to the port annually, about 70,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

On the subject of the new service, Morrison would not say where it would call but it would start in September or October.

He hinted that it was likely to be smaller than the modern, bigger freight ships Maersk hopes to bring into Tauranga over time.

"We still need some people to do some digging around their ports before we can get these bigger ships in, so that's still a couple of years away."

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