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Poor management in Ports of Auckland automation project


A report into the failed Ports of Auckland automation project has found that management, governance, and other key factors were poor.

By Finn Blackwell for rnz.co.nz

The project, proposed in 2016, would have meant processes at the Fergusson Container Terminal would be automated, but it was cancelled after failing to meet expectations.

An independent review was requested by Auckland mayor Phil Goff and commissioned by the Ports of Auckland board.

READ MORE: $65m down the drain as Auckland Port ditches automation project

The report found inadequate input from senior management and said the project team did not encourage engagement or input from managers.

It also found the project suffered from clashes of personality and working styles, contributing to a poor working culture.

The Maritime Union said hundreds of millions of dollars would have been lost because of project delays.

Union secretary Craig Harrison said members concerns were not heeded.

“Sadly, our concerns were disregarded at the time, but if the board and council had listened, the project would not have had this frankly disastrous outcome.”

Lessons must be learned to make up for a decade of lost time, Harrison said.

In a statement, Goff said the report identified serious issues regarding the project’s management.

READ MORE: What should happen to Auckland’s port? Mayoral candidates weigh in

Recommendations made for the future management and governance by the new board and chief executive were common sense and had been accepted by both, he said.

“There were and are clear lessons to be learned from both inquiries, and the new board and chief executive are committed to following through with all of the recommendations from both.”

The Ports of Auckland said it appreciated the insights and recommendations made in the report.

Board Chair Jan Dawson said it accepted these suggestions, and that changes would be made

The former leadership at the Ports of Auckland undertook the project for the right reasons, Dawson said.

A health and safety review was also conducted in 2021, at the mayor’s request.



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