Arrests were made today as protesters occupying the controversial Kennedy Point marina site fought to try and stop further work by developer Kennedy Point Boat Harbour.
They watched on, crying out as a digger began removing rocks in order to drill into the seabed they said.
Marina opponents have vowed to remain on the Pūtiki Point site, despite losing a lengthy court battle challenging the resource consents.
Three people opposing the development were arrested.
Protesters have occupied the site for more than 90 days, calling for the marina to be scrapped altogether due to concerns it endangers a nearby little blue penguin or kororā habitat.
The developer, on the other hand, says no harm will come to the birds.
There was a large police presence today to allow work to go ahead.
Inspector Dave Hines from Auckland City police said they recognised the right to lawful protest as well as the right to conduct lawful business.
He said police were monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of everyone involved and their duty was to prevent any breach of the peace.
Deputy chairperson of the Waiheke local board Kylee Matthews said people were distressed and concerned about the plight of the kororā.
She said discussions around managing the kororā had been absent from cultural values assessments and consent talks.
"We will stand in support of the protectors and we still have that view to this day.
"We are not going to be enacting or supporting any removal of the occupation," she said.
Members of the Green Party and Forest and Bird have also voiced their support.
A native bird expert also objects to the construction.
Karen Saunders from Waiheke Native Bird Rescue said there were a number of threats to the penguins.
"I see what they're like, when they're scared or they're in a state of terror. You know, they freeze or they'll try to ram themselves into the rocks further, so they're probably causing themselves damage in there right now today.
"So the emotion of that is really distressing."
Kennedy Point Boat Harbour director Kitt Littejohn said the work posed no risk to the penguins.
Littlejohn said the developers have complied with all construction standards.
The work has been authorised by the Environment Court and the company has been working with recognised ecologists.
"Kororā don't generally swim around the bay during the day.
"They come and go from their burrows at dawn and dusk but during the day, if they're there they're usually deeply burried under the rocks at the top of the break water," he said.
The developer has agreed to pause any work above sea level pending an agreed penguin plan which will outline steps to ensure the protection and safety of kororā.
To carry out any further work, they will need a plan approved by Auckland Council.