Occupy Auckland protesters have until this afternoon to pack up and leave Aotea Square after failing in a legal bid to continue their two-month stay.
Yesterday, the occupation was discussed at an Auckland Council meeting, and staff were cleared to assert the council's legal rights of ownership of the square and get rid of the protesters' camp.
An appeal by the group against Wednesday's court ruling to clear their campsite and leave the square was rejected yesterday.
The 48 hours leeway given expires at 2.30pm today .
When councillors met yesterday, the possibility of protesters crossing the 50m to enter the Town Hall prompted the posting of five security staff in the debating chamber.
They took no chances, even escorting council workers in and out of the building.
But there was no attempt to disrupt the debate over Mayor Len Brown's recommendation urging the council to apply to the court to have the order enforced when time was up.
The council will ask the court to issue warrants of arrest for contempt and get the police to enforce them at their discretion.
Mr Brown said that the city had been mostly tolerant of the situation but "there needs to be an end to this".
Although he had sat in the tents talking on three occasions, it had been impossible to come to an agreement.
"Fair dues. Please just give us our park back."
The council had gone through a long and costly legal process to assert its rights of ownership on behalf of the wider community and get the protesters' camp off the land.
"It does not stop anyone from expressing their democratic rights."
The council voted 18-2 for the mayor's recommendation despite Cathy Casey proposing that no further action be taken until the end of the council holiday break in February.
She said the council should continue talking to Occupy Auckland "with a view to a peaceful resolution".
"I feel sick at the thought of this council sending police to clear a site of its citizens.
"It will be people not just tents. That's me, you, our children, who is out there. "They are raising concerns that should be of importance to everyone on the planet and I have no problem with that."
Sandra Coney supported Ms Casey's option, saying Queen St was quiet over the holidays.
"I prefer to let the protest wind down in its own natural course than for us to be involved in some ugly scene, which it inevitably will be if we let the police go in there."
Mike Lee said he supported the purpose of the protests and had always argued that council should leave it alone.
"But now it's Christmas and it's the end of the year and the council has to balance its responsibilities to enable the right of assembly and free speech with the public ownership and access of a city park"
Mr Lee said the council had management plans and rules and bylaws covering parks to protect the majority against the minority.
"I say to the protesters, 'You have done your duty, you have been staunch, you don't have to stay here, you can go home for Christmas and let us have the park back for the people of Auckland'." Staff reportersBy NZ Herald staff