A mystery report has been written into the latest options for the America's Cup in Auckland, which are driving a wedge between Team New Zealand, senior politicians and some of the city's wealthiest businessmen.
The Weekend Herald has learned about the existence of the report, which is believed to assess plans put forward in the past 10 days by Team NZ and a "hybrid" option agreed between Economic Development Minister David Parker and Mayor Phil Goff.
It is understood the report does not assess a new plan announced on Thursday by Viaduct Harbour Holdings (VHH), owned by businessmen whose families have a combined wealth of more than $1.5 billion, according to the NBR Rich List.
One imagines anything they come up with will be laced with money-making self interest
The report was written by Unio Environmental, a partnership between two city planning firms, who helped prepare the resource consent application for the Wynyard Basin option, which was publicly notified last month.
It potentially addresses issues around the viability and cost of the two options and whether they can be built within a tight timeframe for the America's Cup challengers to set up base in Auckland by December next year.
Parker and Goff released the "hybrid" option nine days ago, insisting it addresses Team New Zealand's requirements and reduces the environmental impact of wharf extensions.
In a strongly worded statement, Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton expressed "surprise" at the joint release of the plan.
He said Team NZ had believed it was still working with the Government and council towards a final deal and had presented a new plan the same week costing significantly less than the "hybrid" option.
Team New Zealand also reacted angrily to VHH's announcement on Thursday to a new plan, saying it had not seen anything from VHH "but one imagines anything they come up with will be laced with money-making self interest".
VHH ignored the barb, saying its plan was an alternative to the Government's hybrid plan, is cheaper and requires less encroachment into the harbour.
A spokesman for Parker confirmed his office had received a copy of the "draft" UNIO report but did not know if the minister had read it yet. Parker has been busy this week on the TTP agreement as Minister of Trade.
The spokesman said he could not comment on the report or release it.
Goff said through a spokesman he has not been formally presented with the Team New Zealand option, there is ongoing work between officials on both options and expects to receive the final UNIO report soon.
It is not known who commissioned the report, but it is believed to have followed a meeting between Team New Zealand, Panuku Development Auckland (the council's development arm) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
It is believed Team New Zealand has not seen the report, but is keen to receive a copy.
Goff, Parker and Dalton last met on February 9. While officials have beavered away on the different options since then, one senior official told the Weekend Herald it was time for another top-level meeting.
Council officers have warned that delays in decision-making could result in the cup bases not being built by December next year.
The four options
Wynyard Basin option:
Locates the bases around Wynyard Basin from Hobson Wharf to Wynyard Point. Involves a 75m extension to Halsey Wharf for four bases, a 75m extension to Hobson Wharf for the Team New Zealand base and a small extension on Wynyard Wharf for three bases. Agreed by the council in December with support from Team New Zealand and publicly notified in January. The only option with any legal status.
Incorporates elements of the of the Wynyard Basin option with more land-based bases on Wynyard Point and reduces the proposed extension to Halsey Wharf from 75m to 35m. The Team New Zealand base stays on a 75m extension to Hobson Wharf. Economic Development Minister David Parker and Mayor Phil Goff agreed on this option last week.
Team New Zealand option:
A variation on the "hybrid" option with seven bases on a 75m extension to Halsey Wharf and the Team New Zealand base on a 75m extension to Hobson Wharf. No bases on Wynyard Point.
Viaduct Harbour Holdings option:
A variation on the "hybrid" option that moves the Team New Zealand Base from Hobson Wharf to a 30m extension on Halsey Wharf. Five bases on Wynyard Point and two bases on Beaumont St.