Cost-saving building technique finds extra efficiencies at Northport

April 28, 2023

An innovative Kiwi company using a revolutionary, ‘Lego-like’ technique to carve months off building projects is bringing pre-fabricated pods to the Upper North Island from Vietnam, through Northport. TLC Modular is taking advantage of available space and competitive laydown rates at the port to store its modules (white shapes in image above) before shipping them to building projects across the upper North Island.

TLC Modular is currently building two apartment blocks in the Auckland suburb of Northcote for housing agency Kāinga Ora. One comprises 79 apartments to be built with 225 modules, or pods, and the other contains 104 apartments built from 300 of the interlocking, ready-made structures.

The company is also building 32 free-standing and terraced homes from 80 modules in Papakura, south Auckland.

It has already used the technique to build a hotel in Christchurch and is planning a 13-floor hotel in Māngere for Holiday Inn.

The units are built at TLC Modular’s factory in Vietnam and shipped as break-bulk cargo on chartered vessels to wherever in the world the company has construction contracts. The internal finishing is done in Vietnam to a very high standard and, once on site, the modules are craned into place, joined, wired up and the gap between them is filled with sealant. For more information see

“The Northport team has made the whole process of bringing in and storing our modules an extremely easy one,” said TLC Modular’s Jeremy Wagon. “They are solutions-focused and this way of working fits very well with our own mind-set.”

This is not the first time that the significant, relatively inexpensive space available at Northport has proved attractive for builders wanting to land and store imported materials destined for Auckland construction projects. Nearly 10,000 tonnes of high-quality, fabricated structural steel used to build the New Zealand International Convention Centre and the 190m-tall Commercial Bay high-rise was stored here by Culham Engineering.

“This sort of work illustrates our point that Northport has a significant role to play in supporting the development of both Northland and Auckland,” said Northport commercial manager David Finchett.

“It also underscores the importance of a geographically-astute, three-port supply chain strategy for the Upper North Island, enabled by improved, resilient road, rail and coastal shipping infrastructure.”