COMMENT:

Auckland Council have announced their latest plans to extend Queens Wharf with concrete piles and gangways — all to accommodate mega cruise ships that will come to Auckland possibly three times a year but could increase in the future to seven times a year. They arrive in the morning and are gone by the evening.

They fill up our inner harbour and they don't fit our wharfs, but the council are determined to make them fit Queens Wharf with a very expensive extension.

The mayor seems sadly unaware that there is a better vision for our waterfront.

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Something consistently upheld in the Central Wharves Strategy, and reinforced in the latest Waterfront legacy documents. It has Queens Wharf as the jewel in the crown — the marae atea space, where Queen St meets the Waitematā.

On this wharf we could have a new ferry terminal, exhibition space and a new Museum of Tāmaki Makaurau — a place where we tell the story of us. And the cruise ships continue to berth.

It has Captain Cook Wharf extended out to a line drawn between the end of Queens Wharf and Bledisloe Wharf to create new cruise ship berths. And in the off-season, Ports of Auckland can use it for their overflow.

Marsden Wharf is finally removed and Bledisloe Wharf is completed with a new wharf edge along its existing northern face, no extension. This will allow them to berth more cargo ships and car-carrying vessels.

It will also allow them to cater for the rare times that the mega Oasis-class vessels (362m long) or the Queen Mary 2 are required to berth alongside a substantial wharf and still allow operations to continue.

It has to be appreciated that these ships are "mega" in every way. In most ports they are made to anchor off or are berthed in industrial ports. That is just the scale of the operation — 8000 people, major servicing. And yet we are being compelled to welcome them into the very heart of our city. Queens Wharf is not the place for ships of this size.

Previously Ports of Auckland have gone out of their way to cater for the Queen Mary 2 on Jellicoe Wharf. One can only imagine it is financially profitable for them to do so.

For years the council have promoted Captain Cook Wharf as the long-term cruise ship venue. Now they are saying that there is "no funding allocated over the next 10 years in the council's most recent Long-Term Plan for the implementation of the Central Wharves Strategy". At the same time the mayor argues that the alleged $434 million cruise industry is at risk! How can that not be addressed in the Long-Term Plan?

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Urban Auckland and Stop Stealing Our Harbour's recent actions over the proposed America's Cup bases focused on upholding the long-term legacy of developing Wynyard Wharf. It saved Auckland Council $100 million from not building a 200-metre extension to Halsey Wharf. Perhaps they could use some of that money saved towards developing Queens Wharf as a great public space.

Let us be clear — we are profoundly interested in protecting the Waitematā from further encroachment. But we are realists. We accept that Captain Cook Wharf has to be extended. What we are against is ad-hoc, inappropriate development of Queens Wharf.

There is a better vision for our waterfront and we will fight for it.

• Julie Stout is the chairwoman of Urban Auckland.