Ruakura a ‘game-changer’
The Ruakura Inland Port will be a future game-changer for Waikato.
When it opens in 2022, it will be a key step in the journey to increase the tribe’s total asset base to more than $6 billion by 2050, producing a cash flow of around $200 million annually.
Ruakura is positioned in the ‘sweet spot’ to stage and transfer containerised imports and exports between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, and offshore trading partners.
There will be a 30 hectare inland port at the heart of a much larger logistics, industrial and commercial estate, totalling 480 hectares.
Around half of all freight volumes in New Zealand flow between these three centres already. As a midway point, Ruakura will benefit from 60% projected growth in container volumes over the next decade with direct access to Auckland and Tauranga ports via rail and road.
Tapping into this ‘golden triangle’ is a contemporary example of Waikato’s long history of entrepreneurship says Taitimu Maipi, a former Tainui Maaori Trust Board member.
The tribe traded flax with settlers for shipment to Australia in the 1820s. By 1850, the Waikato river was the equivalent of State Highway 1, with waka ferrying the flax along with crops and stock to Auckland markets.
“All across this area were different trading spots like Taupiri. Then people went to Manukau and sailed across the world. There’s nothing new about it,” says maipi.
Despite the hardship and poverty that followed the New Zealand Wars and confiscation of more than a million acres of land, Taawhiao also worked hard to build an independent economic base through the Kiingitanga by setting up its own parliament, courts, police and bank.