The Port of Napier wants to make its harbour deeper by dredging but the idea is already under fire from local shipowners.
The port is proposing to build a new berth for larger ships and managers say they will seek resource consent to deepen the harbour from its current maximum of 12.8 to 14.5 metres.
However, the Shipping Federation has said it would be a waste of money for local ratepayers, who own the port through their regional councils.
It said the future of maritime transport in New Zealand involved feeder ships taking cargo from smaller ports to larger ones.
Centreport in Wellington has planned a dredging operation, mainly at the harbour mouth, and dredging is under way at Tauranga. Ports of Auckland deepened its channel some years ago.