Over the past month, Ports of Auckland has made announcements about its intention to extend wharf structures out from Bledisloe Wharf.
That decision was a result of rules set before the formation of Auckland Council. The nature of these rules meant the public was not notified and given the opportunity to object.
No time has been wasted in getting new planning rules in place for Auckland to replace the old regime. In fact, Auckland Council went to the Government to get law changes that would allow for a faster process than provided for in the Resource Management Act.
The continued presence of a working port on Auckland's waterfront will always excite passions among those concerned about the region's economy, its marine environment and the city's urban form.
Auckland is growing. Our population is up about 2 per cent a year, our economy is growing faster than this at 3.1 per cent and imports are growing even faster.
Auckland's port is mainly in the business of imports. Without these imports, the city's economy would quickly grind to a halt. That is not to say all imports must come through this particular port.
They must, however, be brought into New Zealand and then Auckland through one port or another. And this is where discussions on port location get tough - if Auckland does not import through its existing port, it will need to bring that freight in from somewhere else. That means a lot more trucks and trains coming through, either from the north or south.
So Auckland is faced with a choice: bring freight in by ship through its downtown port, or bring it in to another port and truck and train it through or into Auckland. This is what managing a growing city is all about - making tough decisions.
We have a good understanding of the benefits of the port from previous studies. What we don't understand so well is the cost side of the equation.
What Auckland now needs to look at is this: are the economic, environmental and social costs of bringing in imports via our waterfront port greater or less than the economic, environmental and social costs of bringing in those imports another way? No option is without cost - what we need to understand is which has the least cost.
As mayor, I have directed the council to begin work early on a full study of the long-term options for bringing imported freight into Auckland. That study will look at the economic, environmental and social costs and benefits of each option, and it must give the council conclusive advice on what the best option is for Auckland.
It is critical Aucklanders understand this advice and how we got there.
So I will ask the port and a representative range of organisations and groups - such as iwi, residents, business and professional bodies - to participate at every critical stage of the process including the terms of reference.
We need to balance the impact of the port with the opportunities it provides Aucklanders, including jobs and vital economic investment.
I also want the port to engage directly with the people of Auckland. Aucklanders own the port and have a right to know what changes are coming, whether to expect more ships, larger ships, or both.
These are the dynamics that the port faces and the port is in the best position to communicate them. Dealing with these dynamics is not without cost to the city's residents, so it is critical that the port has a dialogue with the people who own it and own the environment in which it sits.
There is no costless solution to this, so this will need to be a very mature conversation between Ports of Auckland, Auckland Council and the people of Auckland.