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Devonport Heritage 2017, an incorporated society formed in 2017, promotes heritage and sustainable development in Devonport.


Devonport Heritage submission opposing cruise ship mooring on Queens Wharf

Spokesperson McRae


Devonport Heritage have been actively engaged in the challenging of the proposed construction of what are described as ‘dolphins’ to be built beyond the end of Queens Wharf as a means to accomodate mega cruise ships. These ships (Ovation of the Seas as an example) are too large to be berthed at the current wharfs and this in the opinion of the Ports of Auckland and Panuku hinders the ability of the cruise ship operators to provide shore access to cruise ship passengers. Currently these cruise ships anchor in the middle of the harbour and ferry their passengers to shore by tenders.

Devonport Heritage made a presentation to the hearing on this matter on Tuesday 26th February at Auckland Town Hall. Below is the full presentation script and images presented to support the challenge to the proposal.

1.My name is Margot McRae, I am deputy chair of Devonport Heritage and my colleague Alistair Helm is a committee member.

Devonport Heritage has advocated for the protection of the built and natural heritage of Devonport for 25 years. The Society has opposed harbour extensions since 2012 and we took part in the Port Future Study.

We support the evidence given by Heart of the City, Urban Auckland and the associated groups.

2. Auckland harbour has for long. been defined by the iconic views across from the city to Devonport and the backdrop of Rangitoto. Such images such as these early views looking north to Devonport and Rangitoto by JC Hoyt have cone to define Auckland. Another from the central waterfront towards Devonport by Charles Bloomfeld . A very early photograph from the first Queens Wharf. And this in 1905 with the ferries and Devonport in the background.

These images show that for well over a hundred years people have been captivated by this iconic view and by the relationship between the settlement and the harbour.

From the earliest days this view has been celebrated through paintings and photography.

*Today’s artists are still capturing this view – here’s a Mary Taylor etching.

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I think we can say that this truly is an iconic Auckland view, one that has symbolised Auckland’s relationship with its inner harbour and the Devonport peninsula for nearly 180 years.

3. We believe the Panuku proposal will destroy this view.

I failed to find anywhere in the applicant’s mountain of evidence an image which shows how this view from Queens Wharf will change when a mega ship is in place.

Is Panuku saying that only the effects of the mooring buoys and the gangway need to be considered? You cannot consider the effects of this proposal unless you include the effects of the mega ships themselves. Like ignoring the elephant in the room.

So, we used the Boffa Miskell photo and superimposed a mega ship on it because how else can you gauge the effects of this proposal on wharf-users?

4. This is the view you will have. That iconic view will be wrecked. And this photo is taken from the western-most edge of the wharf. The view from the centre and eastern side will be even worse. The 14-storey ship will obliterate the view.

The dolphins and gangway will alter the relationship between the city and its harbour. And when a mega ship is in place this celebrated view to the north that takes in Devonport and the three volcanoes, the harbour gateway - this will be lost for the Summer months of the year when people are most attracted to the wharf.

If this project is approved, it will sacrifice this iconic view and the public use of Queens Wharf simply to make it easier for cruise passengers to get on and off their ships.

That is in essence what this whole proposal is about.

5. In its application Panuku has dismissed the amenity and landscape values of Queens Wharf for the sake of the cruise ship industry.

The proposal ignores the fact that Queens Wharf was opened up to the public only a few years ago to enable Aucklanders to access this stupendous view, to let them finally get right to the harbour edge. On the one hand the council wants to attract people to Queens Wharf and on the hand it will lessen their ability to experience it fully. Where’s the logic in that?

6. Panuku has also ignored its own Master Plans and Waterfront Plans, Central Wharves Strategy etc. to proceed instead with an ad hoc approach to try to fix space constraints at the port. And its timing is so wrong. It would be far more logical if this proposal was considered after the Ferry Basin hearing has been decided.

The Cruise Industry

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7. Some submissions claim that Auckland tourism will suffer, cruise ships will be turned away and that even regional tourism will be seriously affected if this project doesn’t go ahead.

There have been claims that unless the dolphins are built there will be dire consequences for the tourism industry.

8. Well clearly other submitters have shown these claims to be exaggerated.

For instance Mr Blakely states there is ‘no capacity constraint’ on cruise ships coming here and in fact there are three times more slots available than there are visits.

He also finds that growth of the industry willcontinueeven if the dolphins aren’t approved.

9. There is also much debate in New Zealand and internationally about the real benefits of cruise tourists.

An International Symposium in Charleston North Carolina in 2013, (Google) found that shore-based tourists spent 10 times morethan cruise visitors in Charleston.

A North Shore City Council tourism survey 8 years ago showed that cruise visitors spent an average of only $20 a day on the Shore.

10. And Aucklanders are not convinced that they even want dozens more cruise ships and the mega ships coming in such numbers. All around the world towns, cities and ports are saying noto these giant ships.

Venice will ban large cruise ships from the city centre in 2021 because of both visual and environmental pollution and damage to the city walls.

Dubrovnik has cut down cruise ship numbers to only two a day and the Mayor said -

“We are ready to lose some money but we will have a better quality of life for our citizens and tourists” (Guardian Newspaper)

World-wide evidence shows that cruise ships harm the environments they visit.

Their emissions have increased by 13% a year and in some Norwegian fjords they have caused pollution that is equal to that of London, according to The Guardian newspaper.

These places and many others around the world are realising that cruise ships bring more problems than benefits and that they can ruin the very beauty of the places they visit.

11.Yet despite this growing world-wide opposition, the Cruise Industry keeps on building bigger and bigger ships. And Auckland Council and Ports of Auckland are ignoring the negatives that result from the industry.

They have put the cruise industry’s needs above all other users of the harbour and Queens Wharf.

12. Devonport Heritage was part of the Port Future Study and one main finding was that eventually there would be a trigger that would activate the decision to move the port.

This is the trigger. The time is now.

This application makes it clear that the Port is too small to handle everything it wants to do. It has outgrown its site.

Auckland Council can’t ignore this fact and continue to tinker with the site in order to squeeze more activities in.

Most Aucklanders do not want any further expansion into the harbour and this is just another version of expansion, disguising itself as being temporary. 15 years is not temporary.

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Ferry Chaos

13. Much has been made in the application about the economic benefits the dolphins will bring the city.

But nothing has been said about the economicnegativesthat will result from the effect of this project on the working lives of Aucklanders.

Because the Waitemata Harbour is Devonport and Takapuna’s highway to the city.

Thousands of North Shore people take the ferry to work every day. And they will be severely impacted by reductions and delays in the ferry services.

14. The Fullers submission makes it absolutely clear – there will be ‘significant adverse effects on the ferries and other operators’ if this project is approved.

It will put a further constraint on the most congested area of the harbour and affect all ferry routes – and Devonport most of all. Fullers state that the frequency of the existing 15 minute Devonport ferry service will have to be reduced.

These statements strike panic in the minds of ferry commuters.

15. According to Fullers 1.8 million passengers use the Devonport ferry every year.

What about the economic negative that cancelled ferries and late ferries will have on these Aucklanders?

16. Auckland Council is ignoring its own aims of getting more people off the roads and into public transport. If the ferry service becomes less reliable it will condemn more Devonport and North Shore residents to rely on Lake Road, the most congested road in Auckland. This is incredibly short-sighted and irresponsible.

17. The ferry service is a vital public transport link and significantly reduces road congestion. And if approved, this project will be a disaster for the hundreds of thousands of Devonport, Takapuna and Waiheke commuters who use the ferries to get to work.

I’d like to introduce my colleague Alistair Helm to look at the effects the cruise ship industry is already having on our ferry service.

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Present Cruise Ships Effect

18. There are 16 ferry routes from downtown Auckland – spanning the region and providing a core arterial public transport system to complement bus and trains. However, whereas much success has been achieved in securing priority busways, ferries appear to be treated as a second-class operator to the priority of cruise ships. For whilst the primary concern is to the impact of ever larger cruise ships, consideration should be made as to the current impact.

19. Ferry schedules are impacted by cruise ship movements to the detriment of travellers, especially heavily impacted are Devonport travellers due to the very high frequency of trips, which creates a sense of confidence in the traveller to rely upon the expected travel time of c. 12-minutes.

20. When the Devonport ferry is disrupted by cruise ship movements, ferry passengers suffer. A scheduled 12-minute ride can become a 60-minute ride. I experienced such a situation just over a week ago as a 9.30am Devonport ferry was delayed for an hour while a cruise ship moored in Princes wharf, unable to access the ferry terminus due to tugs operating in the area.

(below is the Twitter stream as a reflection of the frustration of a single trip to Auckland City taking 60 minutes)

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21. Such disruption is not a one-off experience but is becoming a regular and frustrating situation, one that will undoubtedly become more common place as the number and scale of cruise ships grows, relegating the core Devonport ferry network to an unreliable secondary public transport backwater.


In essence this project comes down to a choice between the needs of the Cruise Industry and the needs of Aucklanders.

Between people who want to enjoy Queens Wharf as it was intended, the place where residents and visitors can appreciate this quintessential, historic view.

It’s a choice between making life easier for cruise lines and passengers or the need to retain essential commuter links from the North Shore and Gulf Islands to the central city.

It’s a choice between residents and tourists.

We support the planner’s recommendations for this application and ask you to respect the needs and wishes of Aucklanders and decline consent.