Auckland councillors have been kept in the dark about a Maori word being added to the name of a new development agency for the Super City.

The city's 19 iwi were consulted, council chief executive Stephen Town and Mayor Len Brown's office were in the loop - but the city's 20 elected councillors only learned about the Maori element on Monday.

READ MORE: Got some panuku? The council does

The renaming of Development Auckland to Panuku Development Auckland sparked a debate today about who is running the Super City - the city's elected representatives or the unelected directors of council-controlled organisations(CCOs) and officers.

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"This is not about the name or a Maori issue," said councillor Dick Quax, "but an issue of who ultimately runs this city because everybody else knew about it but us."

Said councillor George Wood: "This is a travesty. There are 20 councillors who sit around this table and we were certainly not consulted."

Councillors were told about the name change in an email from Panuku Development Auckland chief executive John Dalzell at 2.15pm yesterday, hours before the new CCO - a merger of the waterfront and property CCOs - started business.

The name has the support of mana whenua and has also been endorsed by the Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town," Mr Dalzell said in the email.

Appearing before the CCO governance and monitoring committee today (Tuesday), Mr Dalzell said the new name stemmed from working with mana whenua on waterfront projects. A final agreement between Auckland's 19 iwi was reached on Friday.

Due process was followed, said Mr Dalzell, adding the issue had been referred to Mr Town and governance director Phil Wilson who said it was consistent with the council's commitment to Maori framework and did not need to go to a committee.

The meeting heard that the mayor's office also new about the name change.

Councillor Chris Darby quipped on social media that it was "Pretty Damned Arrogant" how the council went about naming the agency.

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A motion not to support a new name being added to Development Auckland and noting the failure of the CCO to comply with a "no surprises" policy drew some testy exchanges before being lost by 5 votes to 6.

"I'm gobsmacked," said Waitakere councillor Linda Cooper.

"If someone had put Pace Development or Momentum Development in front of it I don't think we would have had all this drama."

Said councillor Cameron Brewer: "This is the worst possible start for Development Auckland."

In the dark

• Maori name added to Development Auckland
• Iwi, mayoral office and officers aware of Maori element
• Councillors only learned about the change on Monday
• Sparked debate about who is running the Super City