The smell of sizzling sausages wafted from a protest cook-in at Pilot Bay to highlight "ridiculous" concerns about the placement of a public barbecue in the area.

About 25 people turned out for the Saturday fry-up.

The group was formed by Tauranga historian and cultural adviser Buddy Mikaere, who used Facebook to spark debate about beach residents hampering the possible instalment of a public barbecue.

The Bay of Plenty Times revealed last week some Pilot Bay residents living opposite the beach complained to Tauranga City Council about the potential placement of a new public barbecue because they did not want cooking smells wafting across the road.

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"It's ridiculous because barbies, beaches, kids doing stuff - it all goes together," Mr Mikaere said.

"I just thought 'oh we are going to have to have a barbie to put a claim on that part of Pilot Bay and the ability to do that [have a barbecue]," he said. "There was a bit of a breeze that was taking the smell across the road. Some of the residents looked like they were having a barbie anyway."

It is understood the barbecue was bequeathed to the city for public use.

Former Tauranga City councillor Murray Guy joined the gathering with his wife and grandchildren.

"Some of the Facebook people saw it as an opportunity to see what impact having a barbecue on the northern end of Pilot Bay would have," he said. "There was never any intention to be provocative, far from it."

Pilot Bay resident Richard Prevett said he did not agree with installing a public barbecue at the beach because of traffic volumes.

"Something that could cause a congregation of people could be a bit of a pain for the people using the boardwalk," he said.