Port of Tauranga Chief Executive Announces Retirement

Port of Tauranga’s Chief Executive, Mark Cairns, has today given notice that he will retire in June 2021 after more than 15 years at the helm of New Zealand’s largest and most efficient port.

Mr Cairns says the time feels right to hand over to the next generation to continue Port of Tauranga’s success into the future.

“Port of Tauranga is in excellent shape. I’m incredibly proud of our people and the positive outcomes we have achieved for our customers and our community,” he says.

“I will certainly miss my colleagues but I am excited to see where the Company goes next, driven by the creative and innovative team we have built.”

Port of Tauranga Chair, David Pilkington, says Mr Cairns’ leadership has seen the Company grow from a regional bulk export port to New Zealand’s international cargo hub, as well as one of its most successful listed companies.

When Mr Cairns took over as Chief Executive in 2005, Port of Tauranga handled 12.6 million tonnes of cargo and 438,214 TEUs[1]. In the year to June 2020, the Port handled 24.8 million tonnes of cargo and 1.25 million TEUs.

“Thanks to Mark, we have very strong relationships with our customers and suppliers, which helps us plan for the future with confidence,” says Mr Pilkington.

“Mark has kept the Company strongly focused on future opportunities, while maintaining an industry-leading safety record and the highest productivity rates in Australasia,” he says.

He says the Company’s success has delivered wide-ranging benefits to the Bay of Plenty region. Local ratepayers own just over half of Port of Tauranga’s shares through Quayside Holdings.

“During Mark’s tenure, the average compounding Total Shareholder Return has been 19% per year, with market capitalisation increasing by $4.4 billion, from $665 million to $5.1 billion today,” says Mr Pilkington.

“Mark has built a very strong team, who will continue to take the company forward into the future.”

Port of Tauranga’s Board of Directors has a succession plan in place and Leonard Sampson has been named as CEO Designate. Mr Sampson was appointed Port of Tauranga’s Chief Operating Officer in September 2019, after six years as the Port’s Commercial Manager. Prior to joining Port of Tauranga, he held senior roles at KiwiRail, Carter Holt Harvey and Mainfreight.

Mr Cairns will retire from Port of Tauranga at the end of the 2021 financial year and intends to pursue a career in governance.


  • Doubling in cargo volumes
  • Successful execution of Port of Tauranga’s strategy to become New Zealand’s only “big ship capable” port
  • Nearly trebling container volumes
  • More than seven times increase in market capitalisation
  • Named Chief Executive of the Year in the 2012 Deloitte Top 200 Business Awards
  • Winner of the Caldwell Partners Leadership Award in the 2019 Institute of Finance Professionals Awards
  • New Zealand’s best fisherman.

For further details, contact:
Rochelle Lockley
Communications Manager
Port of Tauranga Limited
021 865 884

[1] TEUs = Twenty foot Equivalent Units – a standard measure of shipping containers

Port of Tauranga Offers Safe Harbour in a Global Covid-19 Storm

Financial results for the year to 30 June 2020

Port of Tauranga, New Zealand’s largest port, today reported Group Net Profit After Tax of $90.0 million on 24.8 million tonnes of trade.

Despite the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic, container volumes increased 1.5% to 1,251,741 TEUs[1] for the year ended 30 June 2020.

The Port of Tauranga Limited Board has declared a final dividend of 6.4 cents per share.

Results summary:

  • Annual revenue of $302.0 million (2019: $313.3 million)
  • Group Net Profit After Tax of $90.0 million (2019: $100.6 million)
  • Subsidiary and Associate Companies’ earnings of $14.1 million (up 18.5% from $11.9 million in 2019).
  • Final dividend of 6.4 cents per share (total ordinary dividend of 12.4 cents per share)
  • Average annual compounding Total Shareholder Return of 23.34% over the last decade
  • Total trade of 24.8 million tonnes (2019: 26.9 million tonnes)
  • Container volumes: 1,251,741 TEUs (up 1.5% from 1,233,177 TEUs)
  • Transhipped[2] containers remained nearly a third of total containers handled
  • Imports decreased 7.8% to 9.0 million tonnes
  • Exports decreased 8.0% to 15.8 million tonnes
  • Reduced our overall carbon emissions[3] by 15.3%
  • Continued improvement in safety culture and safety performance with our Combined Port of Tauranga and Contractor Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR) dropping 26% to 4.5[4] (2019: 6.1)
  • Remaining Australasia’s most productive container terminal with Average Net Crane Rate for the year increasing 8.8% to 35.8 moves per hour
  • Our high quality land and building portfolio increased in value by $43.5 million.

Port of Tauranga’s Chair, David Pilkington, says the results reflect the turbulent year and are a strong performance in view of an almost 22% reduction in log exports.

“Some of our customers saw record export volumes, while others were unable to operate during the lockdown,” says Mr Pilkington.

“Port of Tauranga is New Zealand’s major international hub port so it is not surprising that we have seen the effects of the global upheaval.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a wide-ranging impact on the business, including shipping cancellations, reduced cargo volumes, operational challenges and increased costs, and the resulting economic recession in New Zealand and the world.

“We are better positioned than most, due to our track record of strong capital discipline, our conservative balance sheet and capacity headroom,” says Mr Pilkington.

“Our diversity of cargo gives us some resilience in terms of revenue, while the strength of our people and processes has really shone through in keeping New Zealand’s most efficient port operating.”

Port of Tauranga has extended its strategic alliance with New Zealand’s biggest container exporter, Kotahi, through to 2031. The Port also has long-term freight volume agreements in place with other key exporters such as Oji Fibre Solutions and Zespri International.

“These long-term partnerships give Port of Tauranga certainty to plan for the future, and to expand capacity in a way that matches customer demand rather than investing speculatively,” says Mr Pilkington.

“It’s vital to have strong relationships with our customers to ensure we have the freight volume to attract the big ship services.”

Mr Pilkington believes shippers will increasingly seek out the lowest carbon supply chain, which they can access through the bigger ship services calling only at Tauranga. Larger vessels of 7,500 to 9,500 TEUs have a carbon footprint more than 31% lower than the average size vessels calling in New Zealand previously.

“We are the only New Zealand port able to offer the efficient, short transit time services that these larger vessels bring,” says Mr Pilkington.

Port of Tauranga has formed a joint venture with Tainui Group Holdings to develop the 30 hectare Ruakura Inland Port at Hamilton. The partnership will help Waikato-based importers and exporters to easily access the direct rail link to Tauranga.

Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, Mark Cairns, says the port team put in an outstanding performance to keep essential imports and exports flowing throughout the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Our team and partners managed a record cargo exchange on the Sally Maersk container vessel during lockdown. They transferred a total of 9,367 TEUs in two and a half days, obliterating the previous record exchange of just under 7,000 TEUs,” says Mr Cairns.

“We also commissioned our ninth container crane, which arrived in pieces in February and was in service just 11 weeks later.”

Port of Tauranga is now planning for the next stage of cargo growth and, in response to customer demand, intends to add another container vessel berth to the south of the existing Sulphur Point wharves.

“We take a long-term, strategic view of our infrastructure investment to ensure we can provide importers and exporters with the facilities they will need in the future,” says Mr Cairns.

Financial performance

Group EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) decreased 8.1% to $166.5 million.

Solid performances, led by PrimePort Timaru, saw earnings from Subsidiary and Associate Companies’ earnings increase 18.5% to $14.1 million.

Dividend policy

The Board has reviewed its dividend policy in the light of the pandemic and its fallout. The special dividend scheme will be suspended, with funds reserved to accelerate capital expenditure such as the planned container berth extension. The Board has maintained the existing ordinary dividend policy of paying between 70% and 100% of Underlying Net Profit After Tax.

The Board has declared a final dividend of 6.4 cents per share, bringing the full year ordinary dividend to 12.4 cents per share (90% of Underlying Net Profit After Tax).

The average annual compounding Total Shareholder Return has been 23.34% over the last decade.

Cargo trends

Exports decreased 8.0% in volume to nearly 15.8 million tonnes and imports decreased 7.8% to just over 9.0 million tonnes for the year ended 30 June 2020.

In the first half of the financial year, log volumes were hit by lower international prices and demand. By March positive signs were emerging in China, New Zealand’s major log export market, as business there returned to normal and demand increased.

However, forestry was deemed a non-essential industry during New Zealand’s Level 4 lockdown from late March. Log inventory stored at the Mount Maunganui wharves could be shipped to make way for essential cargoes, but cart-in did not resume through the port gates until early May.

Overall, log volumes decreased 21.5% compared with the previous year, to 5.5 million tonnes. Sawn timber exports decreased 10.4% in volume. Pulp and paper exports increased slightly over the full year.

Dairy product exports increased 1.7% to nearly 2.4 million tonnes. Meat products increased 15.4% in volume.

Kiwifruit export volumes remained steady, with a continuing trend towards containerisation.

Imported fertilisers remained steady in volume compared with the previous year, while protein and feed imports increased 20.1% in volume. Grain imports increased 26.1% in volume.

Oil product imports decreased 12.3% in volume, reflecting the economic conditions.

Transhipment volumes remained steady, despite the overall decline in cargo volumes. Transhipped containers represent nearly a third of all containers handled.

Ship visits decreased by 9.7%, from 1,678 to 1,515 for the year.

People and safety

Mr Cairns says the Port of Tauranga team demonstrated strength, resilience and fortitude in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the wide-reaching impacts on the Port’s operations.

“Our systems, processes and people were tested in a myriad of ways, and the effects are ongoing,” he says.

“Our people’s health and wellbeing is more important than ever. Since the beginning of the outbreak, we have supported our frontline workers to keep them safe from Covid-19. They continue to operate at Level 4 standards, with temperature checks, wearing of masks and gloves, social distancing, attention to hand hygiene and frequent surface sanitisation,” says Mr Cairns.

Meanwhile, safety performance during the year improved again, with the combined Port of Tauranga and contractors’ injury rate improving 26%. There is strong evidence of a proactive safety culture through lead indicator reporting.


Measuring, understanding and reducing our carbon emissions is a big focus and we are proud to report that the Company has cut its overall emissions by 15.3% compared with the previous financial year.

Much of the decrease has come through a waste minimisation programme that reduced the volume of waste going to landfill from the Mount Maunganui wharves by 48.5%.  Significantly more waste is being recycled instead, and we believe we can still generate further improvements in this area.

All of our business units reduced emissions compared with the previous year. We achieved a 4.2% decrease in Scope 1 emissions, and the intensity (Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions per cargo tonne) decreased 7.9%.

Our emissions are certified through the Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) and audited by Toitū Envirocare.  It is important to us that our emissions reduction strategy is not based on hollow promises or greenwashing.  Our approach is to break down every part of our business to ensure we are making lasting and tangible change.

The Port’s focus on air and water quality continues, with significant progress in dust suppression. The international move to low sulphur fuel for shipping (or the use of exhaust scrubbers) has had an immediate effect on air quality.

The amount of methyl bromide used at the port for container and log export fumigation dropped 36.6% as a result of log de-barking and other alternatives. Fumigation contractors Genera now utilise recapture technology to recapture close to 90% of log fumigations and 100% of container fumigations.


Mr Cairns says the short and medium-term impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are still uncertain.

“We expect cargo volumes to slowly recover over the next three years, with dairy product and kiwifruit exports likely to be the strongest performers in terms of growth.

“We are still confident of growth over the long-term and, given the lead time required for any investment, we continue to pursue capacity expansion,” he says.

“Our track record means we have a strong credit rating and we believe we are well placed to weather the Covid-19 storm.”

Port of Tauranga Limited will provide an update on the first quarter’s trade, and earnings guidance for the full year, at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on 30 October 2020.

For further details, please contact:

David Pilkington                                              Mark Cairns
Chair                                                               Chief Executive
Ph: 021 609 635                                             Ph:  021 978 887


About Port of Tauranga

Port of Tauranga, headquartered in the Bay of Plenty, is New Zealand’s largest port and international freight gateway. It operates wharves in Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Timaru, as well as MetroPort Auckland, a rail-linked inland port in South Auckland and MetroPort Christchurch, an intermodal freight hub in Rolleston. The Port of Tauranga Group includes: Quality Marshalling (100% ownership), a cargo services company; Coda (50% ownership), a freight logistics group; Northport (50% ownership), the deep water commercial port in Whangarei; PrimePort Timaru (50% ownership), the commercial port in Timaru; Timaru Container Terminal (50.1% ownership), which leases and operates the terminal at Timaru; and PortConnect (50% ownership), an online cargo management system. For more information, please visit www.port-tauranga.co.nz


[1] TEUs = twenty foot equivalent units, a standard measure of shipping containers

[2] Transhipment is when containers are transferred from one ship to another at Port of Tauranga

[3] Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, audited under the Certified Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS)

[4] Per million hours worked

Revised Rules for Port Workers’ COVID-19 Testing

The Government has revised its health order regarding compulsory testing of port workers. ​Testing is now only compulsory for “higher risk” workers, and must be done by midnight on Thursday, August 20.

Higher risk workers are:

  • ​​Pilots and stevedores carrying out work on or around ships
  • Anyone who has boarded a ship at Port of Tauranga or Ports of Auckland since 21 July (eg ships’ agents or welfare workers)
  • Anyone else who has been at Port of Tauranga or Ports of Auckland who has symptoms.

Employers must identify their team members and contractors that need to be tested and arrange for them to get the test before the deadline.

We are liaising directly with stevedoring companies. Any other contractors or individuals who are affected by the order should contact us now for a test appointment.

Email POT.Reception@port-tauranga.co.nz with your details.

Workers can continue to work while they await their results, as long as they have no symptoms. The updated Government order can be found here:


Update on COVID-19 Testing at Port of Tauranga

By Government order, all workers who have visited Port of Tauranga or Ports of Auckland since 11.59pm on 21 July must be screened for Covid-19.

At Tauranga, this affects up to 6,000 individuals. We have set up a facility on site for the DHB to use as a testing station. Their resources are limited so testing will be by appointment only. We will contact employers with testing times.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you have any Covid-19 symptoms, stay home and contact your GP to arrange a test​
  • If you are well, please wait for further instructions about testing at the Port. There’s no need to seek a test elsewhere if you live in Tauranga
  • Priority will be given to those workers who may have had contact with ships’ crew. You will be notified via your employer about when to come in for a test
  • You can continue to work while you wait for your test, and while you are waiting for the results
  • The test will be free
  • You won’t be penalised if you don’t meet the Government’s deadline. See Dr Ashley Bloomfield’s statement here: https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE2008/S00081/reassurance-for-port-of-tauranga-workers-from-ministry-of-health-and-bopdhb.htm
  • You will need your NHI number and photo identification for testing on site. Your GP will know your NHI number if you don’t have it
  • Please don’t turn up for testing at the Port without an appointment.

We are very grateful for port users’ patience and understanding.​

COVID-19 Testing at Port of Tauranga

With confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Auckland and Tokoroa, the port and maritime community is being targeted for testing to rule it out as a source of the virus.

Everyone who has been at the Port of Tauranga since 11.59 pm, Tuesday, 21 July 2020 is now required by law to get a test for COVID-19. This includes everyone who has worked at the port, including shipping agents, stevedores, drivers picking up or delivering cargo, contractors, suppliers of goods and services, classification societies, government agency employees and any crew members who may have come ashore.

Here is a link to the Government order: COVID-19 Public Health Response (COVID-19 Testing) Order 2020

Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, Mark Cairns, says the Port is working with the local DHB to provide testing facilities on site.

“As this order is likely to affect up to 6,000 people, it will take some time for us to work through the logistics. We are grateful for port users’ patience and understanding and will share more information as soon as we can.”


For further details, contact:

Rochelle Lockley
Communications Manager
Port of Tauranga Limited
Ph: 021 865 884


Disabled log carrier to be towed into Port of Tauranga for repairs

Port of Tauranga’s marine teams will help tow the log carrier Funing into port today for further inspections and repairs.




Final Update on Log Carrier Incident at Port of Tauranga

The log carrier that lost power at the entrance to Port of Tauranga this morning is now safely anchored in deep water outside Tauranga Harbour.

Port of Tauranga is now open for shipping.

The Funing​’s propeller and rudder will be inspected by divers as the vessel is believed to have made contact with a marker buoy at the harbour entrance. Maritime NZ is investigating the incident and the Funing will not return to port until authorities give permission.

The Port of Tauranga pilots have now disembarked the vessel and tug boat support is no longer required.


For further details, contact:

Rochelle Lockley
Communications Manager
Port of Tauranga Limited
Ph: 021 865 884


Update on Log Carrier Incident at Port of Tauranga

A log carrier that lost power at the entrance to Port of Tauranga this morning is being moved to deeper water in the shipping channel away from land.

The Funing drifted to the edge of the channel at the base of Mauao after its engines failed about 12.30 am this morning.

The vessel is believed to have made contact with a marker buoy in the channel so divers are on the way to check the Funing’s propeller and rudder before any attempt is made to restart its engines.

The ship’s hull is understood to be intact and there is no pollution.  About 20 crew members and two Port of Tauranga pilots remain on board and there are no reported injuries.

The ship is being held by two anchors and two Port of Tauranga tug boats are in attendance.  Weather and sea conditions are improving.

Shipping remains suspended at Port of Tauranga and updates will follow as further information becomes available.

For further details, contact:

Rochelle Lockley
Communications Manager
Port of Tauranga Limited
Ph: 021 865 884


Log Carrier Incident at Port of Tauranga

A departing log ship has lost engine power at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour early this morning (Monday 6 July).

The Funing is currently anchored near the base of Mauao with two Port of Tauranga tug boats in attendance.

The ship has approximately 20 people on board including a Port of Tauranga pilot. The incident occurred about 12.30 am as the Funing departed Port of Tauranga for China.

Maritime New Zealand and the Tauranga Harbourmaster are in attendance and all other shipping is on hold.

For further details, contact:

Rochelle Lockley
Communications Manager
Port of Tauranga Limited
Ph: 021 865 884


Port of Tauranga Announces Change to Senior Management Team

Port of Tauranga Limited today announced that Rochelle Lockley will join its Senior Management Team as Communications Manager.

Rochelle is a former journalist and has held senior communications roles in tourism and in telecommunications companies in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. She established a communications consultancy in 2005, and has worked with Port of Tauranga on a project and part-time basis for many years.

Rochelle will join the Company full-time from 1 September 2020.