On the face of it, the outcome of all those protracted negotiations over the siting of the America's Cup bases is astonishing. From the outset, we were told by the council agency Panuku and by Emirates Team New Zealand that big extensions into the harbour were required. They said the Wynyard Point option would not work and that bulky new buildings were required on Halsey Wharf. Mayor Phil Goff and the Auckland Council accepted this view.

But the government didn't. Minister David Parker insisted from the outset that there must be a cheaper and more environmentally acceptable option. Goff responded with political skill: when the council shortlisted two options late last year, he insisted they include Parker's choice, even though he didn't personally support it.

Location of America's Cup bases confirmed

The door remained open. Parker responded by brokering deals with landowners on Wynyard Point, which Panuku had said couldn't be done. And he stared down ETNZ's Grant Dalton, which some people may also think can't be done.

The lobbyists Urban Auckland and Stop Stealing Our Harbour piled on the pressure to prevent a big harbour extension. Private-sector developer Viaduct Harbour Holdings chipped in with some fresh thinking of its own, and now we have a new outcome that's better than what anybody – including Parker – had previously proposed.


It's significantly cheaper. Very little of the harbour will be extended into. Sightlines from Wynyard Quarter will not be impeded. As a bonus, the new buildings on Hobson Wharf will probably have a long-term future as a new home for the Maritime Museum. The Cup Village will be vibrant, spectator-friendly, syndicate-friendly and even superyacht-friendly.

Congratulations to Parker. Congratulations also to Dalton and ETNZ, and to Goff and his officials. To make this happen everyone had to pull on their big sailing pants and make a decision for the greater good. They all did that and we can be grateful. Auckland will be the winner.

Now bring on the defence.