A debate about declaring Auckland a "City of Peace" descended into a slanging match and left one councillor apologising for colleagues' comments in front of children.

Councillor Cathy Casey yesterday apologised to Alida Newman, 13, and George Shirtcliffe, 10, who had earlier spoken to the meeting at the Town Hall on behalf of the One People One Planet movement.

Alida said: "My generation is relying on you to help us and take action towards creating a better future."

George said Auckland had to feel like a peace city for children too.

"They need you councillors to stick up for them. Kids need to feel safe wherever they are."

But in the ensuing debate, councillor Dick Quax called the proposal a "boondoggle - doing useless and unnecessary work".

Councillor Sir John Walker said: "I don't think Auckland City needs a piece of paper to say it is peaceful.

"It needs to stop child abuse, see kids fed before they go to school and to try to stop police officers being beaten up ... and to get on with your neighbours."

Councillor Cameron Brewer said Auckland naming itself a city for peace should not be the focus while Christchurch recovered from a natural disaster.

The regional development and operations committee meeting was asked to endorse the bid via the social and community development forum, which Dr Casey chairs.

Mr Quax said: "We can do lot more there than just declaring a peace city and singing Kumbaya [a civil rights anthem]."

Councillor Alf Filipaina quoted from a staff report which said the commitment as a city of peace was an "expression of principle, leadership, vision and intention rather than a claim that Auckland is or will be simply described as totally peaceful".

After the committee voted 10-8 to put the proposal out to local boards to consider, Dr Casey said she apologised to Alida and George for having to listen to remarks such as Mr Quax's, which she regarded as insulting.

"We should be able to have a peaceful debate about peace."

Mr Quax insisted that committee chairwoman Ann Hartley rule Dr Casey's remarks out of order because they were "disrespectful".

Mrs Hartley asked Dr Casey to withdraw the remarks and apologise and shecomplied.

Afterwards, Alida said: "It did not set a very good example. They were not peaceful. They were being angry and it's not good."

George added: "I was quite upset by them saying it was just a piece of paper. It's not. It's a declaration and this is what is going to turn us into a peace city."