Ports of Auckland has gone into damage control with a reported private call of apology to Auckland Council after their chief executive last week said he wasn't informed when the Quay St road works would start.
Last Saturday, the Weekend Herald reported Ports of Auckland (PoAL) chief executive Tony Gibson claimed he had not been informed by Auckland Transport (AT) of the Quay St roadworks beginning before the public.
Gibson said PoAL management were aware of the $321 million "enhancement" plans for Quay St in downtown Auckland, but were given no forewarning of construction actually beginning in December 2018.
On April 28, a day after Gibson's comments were published, Auckland Councillor Chris Darby tweeted:
"This morning an @AucklandsPort executive member called in and conveyed an apology to council for the inaccurate statements reported in the @nzherald. It appears their chief executive was misinformed by the in-house communications team. I accept the port company's apology."
It is not clear who the PoAL "executive member" was who made the call, and Darby himself and PoAL would not confirm the identity.
When Gibson was asked by the Weekend Herald to verify the reported phone call he said: "Ports of Auckland will not be making any further comments".
The PoAL communications team also said they "appreciate" the Herald trying to "offer us balance, but on this occasion we'd rather not say anything further".
Darby himself was steadfast in the veracity of the PoAL apology this week, and in the inaccuracy of Gibson's original Quay St comments.
"What I said is entirely accurate in those tweets. I don't just fire stuff out without thinking. I might be wrong sometimes but I'm not wrong in that instance, OK," Darby told the Weekend Herald.
"There have been some offline discussions earlier this week, there's been an agreement that we need to focus on the challenges ahead and that's what we'll be doing.
"What I would like to say is we'd probably like to just move on because we've got a massive focus downtown and we do and are working extremely closely with the port company, and other big stake holders."
In the Weekend Herald last week, Gibson claimed that he, nor PoAL management were precisely aware of the start date of the Quay St works.
"Our infrastructure manager, Alistair Kirk, sits on a number of committees which includes what was going on around Quay St, and at no time at those meetings were we ever informed about when it was likely to happen," Gibson said.
When directly asked by the Weekend Herald to clarify that he was not warned of the Quay St roadworks start date he said: "We were not told when, no."
A day before Darby Tweeted that the PoAL had apologised, on April 27, the Auckland Councillor had explicitly refuted Gibson's claim that PoAL infrastructure manager, Alistair Kirk, could be ignorant of the Quay St works start date.
"To suggest the port company's Infrastructure Manager knew nothing about the Quay St works, when he's been at the multi-party table discussing all the ins and outs of the downtown programme of works, is complete bollocks," Darby Tweeted.
AT chief executive Shane Ellison maintained last week that PoAL had been involved in planning for the waterfront with AT since early 2017 but he did not specify whether Gibson had been told before the public of the start date.
"Since mid-2018, PoAL representatives have participated in regular stakeholder meetings involving PoAL representatives covering many issues important to them – this includes addressing concerns raised around access to Queens Wharf and Princes Wharf, both during and after utilities relocations, and in the lead-up to the start of main works."