Despite the subsequent controversy, the Auckland Council says it does not believe the public needed to be aware of plans to extend Bledisloe Wharf.
The resource consent applications from the Ports of Auckland were not revealed when they were submitted last year, and people only found out about them through the media.
The group Urban Auckland has taken the council and the Ports of Auckland to court, saying the consents were granted unlawfully.
At the High Court in Auckland, a lawyer for the council, Alan Galbraith, said under council rules, the consents had to be granted unless there were special circumstances.
"The public controversy has been about effectively the substance of the rule, which allows for wharf extensions in the port precinct.
"Just having controversy about that isn't one of the reserved issues, isn't a special circumstance."
Mr Galbraith said the applications were for an industrial zone where expansion was not unexpected.
Assessing the consents
Urban Auckland said the way the resource consents were handled, without making them public, was unlawful.
The group said the five consents should have been considered in one bundle, and then wider effects could have been considered.
But a lawyer for the Ports of Auckland told the court it would not be right to assess all the consents that made up the wharf extensions together.
Jim Farmer QC said the applications, which ranged from construction to stormwater, were categorised as either "controlled" or "discretionary", and therefore subject to different rules.