The Maritime Union says successful funding outcomes for coastal shipping are a game changer for New Zealand shipping and the biggest turnaround for the industry this century.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the outcome will see four or more New Zealand operated ships come into service on the New Zealand coast.
He says the new ships will have a substantial positive impact on New Zealand’s supply chain crisis as well as providing environmental benefits.
Mr Harrison says it is essential the new ships are New Zealand flagged and New Zealand crewed to build resilience and capability in the shipping sector.
Minister of Transport Michael Wood announced on 24 May 2022 the Government had committed $30 million of funding for coastal shipping funding through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) to improve domestic shipping services, reduce emissions, improve efficiency and upgrade maritime infrastructure.
Waka Kotahi worked with the wider freight industry to select four applicants for co-investment in new and enhanced coastal shipping services through the NLTP.
The four successful applicants were Coastal Bulk Shipping Ltd, Move International Ltd, Swire Shipping NZ Ltd and Aotearoa Shipping Alliance.
Mr Harrison says after decades of neglect, New Zealand coastal shipping had turned a corner and could now begin to fulfil its potential.
The Maritime Union had relationships with several of the operators and would work to ensure crews were available.
Mr Harrison says further investment in training and skills for a new generation of New Zealand seafarers was an important aspect of rebuilding the industry.
He says it is essential that a maritime trading nation like New Zealand had shipping capability and skilled seafarers in an increasingly volatile global situation.
Coastal shipping was a low carbon emission transport mode, so provided environmental as well as economic benefits.
When the new shipping services are fully operational, the Government estimates they will remove around 35 million kilometres of truck travel from New Zealand’s roading network every year.