Angry Parnell residents are threatening to protest at a turning-of-the-sod ceremony for a national memorial to mark the country's worst air disaster.
This year marks the 40th anniversary since sightseeing flight TE901 crashed into Mt Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 on board.
The memorial, called Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song, incorporates a stainless steel walkway projecting outward to the horizon.
The Government wants to build it on a lawn in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, also known as the Parnell Rose Gardens, overlooking Judges Bay.
It is supported by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and a ceremony is planned to mark the beginning of construction on 28 November, exactly 40 years since the crash.
But locals have vowed to fight both the design and placement claiming they were not consulted and that it is unsuitable for the small park.
They claim to have been shut out of a process that is being driven by the Government and supported by the Waitematā Local Board which is dominated by Labour-aligned City Vision members.
The design process was run by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage which also selected Dove-Myer Robinson Park as the location from a shortlist that included the Domain and Cornwall Park.
One of those upset is Jo Malcolm, who lives close to the park and walks there daily. Her father-in-law Alan Stokes was among the victims of the crash.
She was among six people who spoke at a local board meeting this week calling for it to delay granting landowner consent to allow more consultation.
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"This memorial started from a positive and good place but through poor process and unnecessary haste we've ended up in a very negative place," Malcolm told the Weekend Herald .
She said concerned locals would have little choice but to protest at the event marking the beginning of construction.
Independent local board member Rob Thomas tried to have the decision about location for the memorial deferred until after the local body elections to allow "genuine consultation" but did not get a seconder.
Instead the board voted 6-1 in favour of "targeted consultation" with a final decision on consent to be made by the board's chairperson and deputy, both City Vision, before the end of their term on October 30.
Thomas said he "felt in the dark" about the project and was upset locals had not been consulted when the issue came before the board last November.
"I do believe that there is a collaboration here between the Prime Minister, the Mayor and the Labour-led local board to ram this thing through."
He said it was likely to be "very limited consultation" and the chair and deputy could choose to disregard it.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, confirmed she is aware of "some issues for the local board to work through."
Councillor Mike Lee, a former Parnell resident who has represented the area since 2010, also condemned "abysmal consultation". What should be an historic feature and part of Auckland's built heritage, promoting respect for those lost in the accident and their families, had become "unnecessarily divisive".
He blamed "an unfeeling tone-deaf Wellington bureaucracy, and a Mayor who puts his political loyalties before the interests of the Auckland public".
Mayor Phil Goff said it wasn't always possible to please everyone. "I welcome the decision by the Local Board as owner of the park to engage further with the individuals who have indicated some concerns."
"While it is not always possible to achieve a consensus around decisions on design and site in these cases, it is important that we treat the issue with sensitivity given the tragic events the memorial commemorates."
Family of Erebus victims were consulted about the memorial and representatives were involved in selecting the design, he said.
While there was no public consultation, the Culture and Heritage Ministry worked closely with the Waitematā Local Board and had met some residents who raised concerns in July, project leaderBrodie Stubbs said.
Some changes, such as to landscaping and paths, had resulted.
The site for the National Erebus Memorial was announced in November 2018, and the designs in April 2019. "Since then we have received almost universally positive comments about both the location and the Memorial design."
The ministry supported the Local Board's decision to conduct further consultation with those who don't feel they have had the chance to express their views.
Auckland Council was unable to provide details of the consultation it would undertake in time for this article.
The Council consulted with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and had spoken to groups with a specific interest in the site and with some individual residents, a report produced by Council officers said.
It said the memorial's footprint over a banked lawn and adjacent to Auckland's biggest pōhutukawa tree is comparatively small.
Malcolm, however, said it was eight metres tall at its highest point, "a giant runway that falls off a cliff" while a soundtrack of Antarctic sounds plays.
"It is not embraced and it fundamentally changes a park that we value hugely for its green and open spaces."