Auckland Councillors have in principle supported an artwork gifted to the waterfront but question whether rates should help meet the cost.
Politicians debated for the first time on Wednesday morning the artwork by Michael Parekowhai - a lighthouse modelled on a state house.
The project evolved after Barfoot and Thompson last year announced a $1 million gift for an artwork on Queens Wharf.
Members of the art committee questioned why they were left in the dark about progress on the installation during the past year. The committee called for more detail on the artwork, including its budget.
Some complained they had not yet been shown images of the proposed work, but councillor Chris Darby said that was something they should keep out of.
"I thought that was the intention of this council passing the public art policy, and getting rid of plonk art around the city selected out of manuals and catalogues by politicians. That was what was happening."
No decisions have been made on whether council funds might be needed in addition to the gifted $1 million.