Yachting figures and politicians join opposition to planned extension of Bledisloe Wharf.

Six-year-old Elliot Plowman-Greer held a tiny placard that read "Stop Stealing Our Harbour".

"I don't want there to be a wharf where the boats are," said the Sandringham boy.

Elliot's message was the same one Pete Montgomery, Chris Dickson and politicians had yesterday for Ports of Auckland, Auckland Council and Mayor Len Brown.

"The Bledisloe Wharf extensions must be stopped immediately," bellowed Montgomery, the voice of yachting who became the voice for about 2000 people who gathered at the end of Queens Wharf, also known as the "people's wharf".

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A flotilla of about 300 boats took to the harbour in support.

The protest against port extensions featured a flotilla of about 300 vessels.
The protest against port extensions featured a flotilla of about 300 vessels.

The large crowd, Montgomery said, were fair-minded people, appalled by the haste and cynicism of Ports of Auckland sanctioned by Auckland councillors.

"What a way to treat the people of Auckland and future generations. The council should not hide behind legal niceties. You own it. You appoint the board. Council and Len, fix it," Montgomery said to loud applause.

The protest was sparked by port company plans to begin building two massive wharf extensions and Auckland Council narrowly voting to ease rules for further reclamation.

The "stop stealing our harbour" campaign says the wharf extensions will destroy views from Queens Wharf that Aucklanders paid $40 million for, and that the eventual reclamation will be for parking thousands of cars and stacks of containers.

Sailing legend Chris Dickson talks to large crowds gathered at the end of Queens Wharf. Photo / Jason Dorday
Sailing legend Chris Dickson talks to large crowds gathered at the end of Queens Wharf. Photo / Jason Dorday

Yachting legend Chris Dickson said the harbour used to be 2000m wide. Now it was less than 1000m. "The same amount of water goes in and out as it always has but it is squeezed through half the space. That means the current has doubled. It's a rip. There are whirlpools. There are overfalls. It's dangerous.

"It's an asset we shouldn't be losing. We have got boats out here protesting for good reason," Dickson said.

North Shore councillor Chris Darby called the protest a day the people of Auckland draw a line in the sand against environmental vandalism of "our precious harbour".

Politicians from across the spectrum joined the protest, including National's Auckland Central MP, Nikki Kaye, and Labour's Jacinda Ardern and David Shearer. Former Act leader John Banks said the days of incremental creep into the harbour were over.

A 20-year-old law student, Millie Goldwater, spoke for the city's younger generation.

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Ms Ardern said the port could argue all it liked that it was abiding by the rule of law, but that did not mean what they had done with a secret, non-notified consent for wharf extensions was right.

"They have shown a lack of understanding of the strength of feeling of Aucklanders about what happens with the future of their harbour."

Said Ms Kaye: "This is our harbour." The wharf extensions, she said, had happened by stealth when what was needed was a conversation with Auckland.

Large crowds gathered at the end of Queens Wharf Auckand to protest against Auckland Councils and Ports of Auckland expansion plan for Bledisloe Wharf. Photo / Jason Dorday
Large crowds gathered at the end of Queens Wharf Auckand to protest against Auckland Councils and Ports of Auckland expansion plan for Bledisloe Wharf. Photo / Jason Dorday

"The Auckland Council and the mayor and the Ports of Auckland need to front up. It's not just about the people of Auckland now. It's also about the future generations of Aucklanders," Ms Kaye said.

Last night Mr Brown, who declined an invitation to attend the protest, welcomed Aucklanders making their voice heard. He repeated his position of undertaking of a study of the economic, environmental and social effects of Ports of Auckland's place in the city - a promise made in August 2013 - but refused to say if he would do anything to halt the extensions, due to start construction next month.