Auckland Mayor Phil Goff was compared to American President Donald Trump at a protest rally on Queens Wharf today.
Several hundred protesters were there to oppose a concrete extension at the end of Queens Wharf to tie up mega cruise ships.
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.
One protest banner had a photo of Goff in 2016 saying "Not one more metre of concrete in the harbour" alongside a 2019 photo of Goff superimposed on Donald Trump saying "We're going to build a great extension, folks. It'll be the greatest extension, believe me."
One yacht, among a flotilla of yachts protesting in the Waitemata Harbour off the wharf, was flying a banner which read "Don't be a DONALD ... Phil!".
Other banners said "Don't Phil our harbour with concrete" and "Stuff Phil Goff, vote him off".
America's Cup yachting legend Chris Dickson said Auckland had a Mayor who promised no more concrete.
"He has done an about face. He needs to go," Dickson said.
When standing for the mayoralty in 2016, Goff told the Herald: "I think Aucklanders stand beside me in saying not one more metre of the harbour should be infilled for commercial activity."
He was talking at the launch of his "Protecting the Waitematā" policy, including a desire to move Ports of Auckland and open the area up for public use.
Goff sent his apologies for not attending the rally in a letter to Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesman Michael Goldwater.
The letter said he was strongly opposed to the walkway connecting the dolphins to the wharf and the need for a second dolphin, saying the decision was made by the harbourmaster "who is not subject to a direction from me or council".
When the letter was read out, someone in the crowd yelled "what a cop-out".
The Herald is seeking comment from the Mayor about accusations he has broken an election promise.
Urban Auckland spokeswoman Julie Stout, who played a big role in protests and halting wharf extensions to Ports of Auckland in 2015, told the crowd: "Can you believe it? We are here again."
She was not opposed to cruise ships visiting Auckland, but was opposed to super-sized cruise ships muscling in on the "people's wharf", purchased by the Government and the council from Ports of Auckland for public use in 2009.
Now Ports of Auckland - which manages berthing for cruise ships - was taking the wharf back by stealth and shunting people off, she said.
Stout expressed concern at new plans to funnel tour buses up one side of Queens Wharf, do a three-point turn at the top, and come down on the western side of the Cloud.
Goldwater said the dolphins were "completely unnecessary".
They would only be used about seven times a year for the largest cruise ships, which arrived in the morning and left in the afternoon. They could be berthed on Bledisloe Wharf at Ports of Auckland, he said.
Dickson told the crowd he had been at sea and seen dolphins.
"They are not concrete. They are marine animals," he said.
A resource consent application to build the dolphins has been lodged by council's development arm, Panuku, and is 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".