Jacinda Ardern says she doesn't support a new proposal by Ports of Auckland that would extend Bledisloe Wharf into the Waitemata Harbour.
Speaking after her first meeting as Prime Minister with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Ardern was asked about the port company's draft 30-year masterplan for the 77ha of land it owns on the city's doorstep.
"What I'm happy to say is that I have always opposed port expansion at its current site," she said.
That was in reference to plans for a 13m piled concrete extension at the end of Bledisloe Wharf, which the company says is essential for a new berth and the success of the other wharf projects.
New Zealand First wants container operations moved to Northport near Whangarei by 2027, but that pledge was watered down in coalition negotiations with Labour. The coalition agreement included a feasibility study on the options for moving the Ports of Auckland, including giving Northport serious consideration.
Goff today said it would be that feasibility study that would drive the future of the port, not today's Ports of Auckland plan.
"What we have now is a study that will demonstrate what will work best for Auckland, for the region in the upper North Island and the country as a whole. I think that study is going to be the study that really counts for what we do in the future," he said.
"I welcome the fact that the Government has committed to an upper North Island port study. It doesn't make sense for Auckland to make a decision in isolation to what the region and the country needs.
"So this is a draft proposal from the ports. That will go out for public discussion. They will be seeking resource consents."
The Ports of Auckland is owned by the Auckland Council.
Central Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua says the port's draft masterplan is a clumsy attempt to out-flank the new Government and undermine the mayor.
"The plans represent a huge investment by the port company and clearly signals it isn't interested in moving. The proposed buildings are massive and compromise any future urban design that would honour and respect our Waitemata," said Ngati Whatua spokesman Ngarimu Blair.
He said the iwi supports the Government's intent to move the port and return the waterfront to Aucklanders.
"The port company's proposed development continues its long history of disrespecting our Waitemata Harbour and further denies the Auckland community access to it. The board and management must be deaf to the voices of Aucklanders," Blair said.
Heart of the City chief executive Vic Beck said it was positive the plans responded to issues raised by the public, but they were also silo responses to individual issues, such as removing cars from sight on the wharves.
"They do not represent visionary, integrated thinking for the best use of downtown Auckland's prime waterfront space as a whole.
"How will the Ports of Auckland plans integrate with work under way for adjacent locations such as Lower Queen Street? How will they fit with the aim to create a legacy from development associated with the America's Cup? How will the timing of the various components align?" Beck said.
She said the silos need to come together urgently to take the best ideas from these plans and ensure the design across the whole waterfront and adjacent areas work together to open up as much space as possible to the public. The timing must also be aligned to get the optimum result for the America's Cup.
While the proposed extension in the Ports' draft plan will be controversial, it is in line with recommendations in the Auckland Council's Port Future Study last year and smaller than previous expansion plans.
Goff told the Herald he did not support further extension of the port into the harbour.