The Auckland Council has approved two large wharf extensions into Waitemata Harbour for port use without notifying the public or councillors.
Planning commissioners approved the additions on the grounds they were positive and had no adverse impact.
The applications by Ports of Auckland are for extensions at the end of Bledisloe wharf - 100m beyond the left-hand side and 130m beyond the right-hand side. They are each 33m wide.
The revelation comes as Mayor Len Brown, 20 councillors and two members of the Statutory Maori Board today decide if more seabed should be reclaimed for port use.
One of five councillors opposed to further reclamation, Chris Darby, said the wharf extensions had "cunning" written all over the applications and consent.
Mr Darby said it was a sly way of using the more permissive rules for wharf extensions to make the consenting of reclamation more likely.
Planning commissioner Rebecca Macky said the one addition would help free up Captain Cook wharf for greater public use.
Last night, council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley said councillors and the public were not told about the extension applications.
Dr Blakeley said the applications were for wharf extensions, or piled structures, not the sensitive issue of reclamation.
The issue went through the standard practice of the port company applying for resource consent, he said.
Today, the full council, meeting as the Auckland development committee, is being asked to consider two issues that could lead to further reclamation. The first is to endorse a "central wharves strategy" that includes a new cruise ship terminal on the Captain Cook Wharf. To compensate for the loss of the wharf space, the port company wants to reclaim 3ha of seabed at the northern end of Bledisloe wharf.
The second issue, being held in secret, is for the council to decide its position for mediation on zoning in the port precinct.
The council is under pressure to make zoning a "discretionary" activity. This would allow the port company to apply for resource consent for further reclamation.
Councillors are also being asked to permit the port company to reclaim another 20ha of harbour every 10 years.