Discussions with mayor and opponents of wharf expansion could lead to rethink.

Ports of Auckland is not ruling out a pause in construction on two massive wharf extensions into the Waitemata Harbour.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown told TV3's The Nation programme on Saturday that he wanted "a discussion that relates to the port cooling their heels and taking a breather".

Yesterday, a spokesman for Ports of Auckland said the company was taking part in discussions with Mr Brown and opponents of further port expansion.

"[We] will wait and see what the outcome of those discussions is before making any decision on whether or not to pause construction of the extensions," he said.

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Pressure has been building on Mr Brown and the port company after a public outcry at plans to build two wharf extensions about 100m into the harbour at the end of Bledisloe Wharf.

Writing in today's Herald, ports chief executive Tony Gibson said the extensions would be removed if a forthcoming study into the wider economic, social and environmental impacts of further port expansion on the city found a better alternative.

Mr Gibson said the port company had listened to "howls of rage" at an earlier plan to extend the port 250m into the harbour, but could not work miracles handling Auckland's growth without some extra room.

He said freight through the ports had doubled in the past five years, ships were getting bigger and "you can't park a big ship on a small wharf".

"It is my firm view that if we can't grow the port, it will choke on Auckland's growing freight demand."

The port company has let a contract to begin building the wharf extensions, and demolition and enabling works have begun. Main work is due to begin next month.

Mr Brown had nothing to add to his comments on Saturday and a news release after a meeting on Friday with representatives from the port company and opponents including Sir Stephen Tindall, boaties and Urban Auckland where he said the first step to a solution was to get all the parties around the same table.

Urban Auckland spokeswoman Julie Stout said Mr Brown was sympathetic to the idea of pausing construction of the wharf extensions until the wider study was completed.

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She said Urban Auckland, which signalled legal action on Friday, planned to issue proceedings in the High Court at Auckland on Thursday challenging the lawfulness of the resource consents for the wharf extensions.

Urban Auckland is a society of architects, urban designers and planners set up to protect the city's built environment and waterfront.

The council's Auckland development committee will tomorrow consider the process for the study.

Port moves
•Ports of Auckland considering a pause to wharf extensions.
•Mayor Len Brown brings ports and opponents together on the issue.
•Urban Auckland sticking with legal moves to challenge wharf consents.
•Councillors meet tomorrow to discuss wide study into port activities.