Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has been cast as a villain at a protest rally on Queens Wharf today to oppose at 90-metre extension to tie up mega cruise ships.
Scores of protesters have turned up to shine a light on Auckland Council's decision to spend $10 million to pour more concrete into the Waitematā Harbour.
Goff supports the 90m fixed gangway and two 15m by 15m concrete mooring structures fixed to the seabed - known as dolphins.
The project will allow mega-cruise ships that currently anchor in the harbour to berth at Queens Wharf. The wharf can currently provide for cruise ships up to 294m. The dolphins will allow for ships of up to 362m.
Several groups who supported Goff's mayoral bid in 2016 are not happy with the "mayor's U-turn".
Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesman Michael Goldwater says the Mayor said in 2016 there would not be one more metre of concrete introduced to the harbour.
The Civic Trust and Urban Auckland, a group of architects and urban designers, are also unhappy with the mayor's position.
Goff declined an invitation to attend the protest rally, saying his view in 2016 was the city needs to make appropriate arrangements for cruise ships, which provide income and jobs.
He said he had been opposed to the walkway connecting the dolphins to the wharf and the need for a second dolphin, but the harbour master made the decision for the walkway "and is not subject to a direction from me or council".
"I appreciate your commitment and efforts to protecting and enhancing our harbours and share your broad objectives," Goff said in a letter to Goldwater this week.
This week, several prominent Aucklanders signed a letter to Goff and other councillors opposing the Queens Wharf extension.
Goldman Sachs' boss Andrew Barclay, Barfoot & Thompson director Kiri Barfoot and SkyCity entertainment chairman Rob Campbell are among those opposed.
"This incremental attack on our beautiful harbour has to stop," the letter reads.
"The decision to extend Queens Wharf, which will cost ratepayers more than $10 million, is based on an economic report that has been discredited by two of New Zealand's leading economists.
"We urge you to oppose the sale of our harbour for a few extra dollars, most of which will accrue to foreign-owned shipping corporations."
A resource consent application to build the dolphins has been lodged by council's development arm, Panuku, and being heard by independent commissions.
Panuku, the cruise ship industry and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) support the application, saying the industry is worth $181m to the Auckland economy.
"In really simple terms we're saying, 'we'll spend some money up front, you'll bring some boats in and pay us to use that facility and then all the people who get off those boats will come and spend money'," Ateed cruise project manager John Smith said.
An independent planners report prepared for council said the resource consent application should be refused.
Planner Richard Blakey said the positive economic benefits were not enough to offset "adverse environmental effects".