Wellington City Council chief executive Barbara McKerrow has doubled down on her decision to close public space at Shelly Bay due to health and safety concerns.
She made the call on the basis of imminent construction on the developer's adjoining land and asbestos risk on council land.
Her decision has been challenged by way of a Notice of Motion drafted by Councillor Sean Rush and supported by Mayor Andy Foster.
It would allow Mau Whenua, the group occupying the land, to stay on their current site but in a reduced area.
Under the proposal, the restricted area would be reduced to within a 2m perimeter of the building of concern.
But in an email to councillors this morning, McKerrow said the Notice of Motion risked sending the message that the council was comfortable for the protest to continue at the site.
"Regardless of safety risks, or the behaviour of the occupiers, and disregarding the availability of an alternative site for peaceful protest."
McKerrow said her view was that it's "inappropriate" for a governing body to intervene in an operational and evidence-based decision made by the chief executive on health and safety issues.
She said the decision to close the site was made having considered all of the facts, the current and impending risks, and having taken independent advice.
"Circumstances have not resolved themselves since that decision was made, and in fact matters have escalated. On that basis, I will be instructing my team to continue to implement the decision I have made."
Foster said earlier that forcibly removing protesters from Shelly Bay is a situation no one wants to face and has warned it could get "very ugly".
Mau Whenua remains at the bay despite Wellington City Council saying it would close the public space where the land is being occupied from 6pm last night.
The group has been camped out there for a year. They claim the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust went against the will of its people when it sold its land for development and that the deal was done in secret.
Mau Whenua has also ignored a notice issued by Shelly Bay Ltd to leave the site within seven days.
Foster said everyone was wondering "where this goes" if it escalated.
"The whole sorry Shelly Bay saga has seen the application of power on multiple occasions against those opposing the proposed development and denial of rights for meaningful engagement over this special place."
Foster said forcibly removing protesters was not a situation anyone wanted to face.
"That could get very difficult, very ugly, and there's the potential for people getting hurt and that's what we want to try and avoid if we possibly can."
Everyone needed to remain calm and measured, Foster said.
Foster has been a long-standing opponent of the way the development planned for Shelly Bay has been handled.
He announced his 2019 mayoral campaign there, although has always insisted he didn't run a one-issue campaign.
Sir Peter Jackson, who owns several properties on Miramar Peninsula, also opposes the development.
He financially backed Foster's campaign to the tune of $30,000 through his companies- Weta Digital, Park Road Post and Portsmouth Rentals.
Mau Whenua spokesman Wayne Makarini said the kaupapa at Shelly Bay was about a mandate, process, and representation.
Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust made moves to sell the land it owned there in 2016 but failed to get the necessary 75 per cent majority vote.
Instead, the land was sold separately in parcels to Shelly Bay developer Ian Cassels, it's alleged by Mau Whenua, as a way around the deal being classified as a major transaction.
The Trust has maintained the sale did not constitute a major transaction nor were they taken advantage of by developers.
Three parcels of land were sold for $2 million in 2017, a fraction of the original cost. A fourth parcel was later sold for $10.
"They were told no and they've gone ahead and done it anyway," Makarini said.