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Len Brown's Letter To Manukau

Len Brown's Letter To Manukau

Len Brown Writes:

In this update: Len Brown returns to work

Len Brown returns to work

There were times over the last three and a half months when I wondered if I would ever send another personal letter like this to the community which I love and which I am honoured to serve. I’m thankful that I have now returned to office. I’m hugely appreciative of the community and its support for me during my convalescence and I look forward, with the grace of God, to sending out many, many more letters to Manukau updating people on issues of concern to myself, the council and our residents.

I want to thank the two councillors who have served as acting mayor during the last three and a half months – deputy mayor Gary Troup and councillor Arthur Anae. I thank them for their wonderful service and support, for keeping council moving and for ensuring the continuation of this weekly correspondence with the broader community.

There are many things that one contemplates when one is flat on one’s back in an intensive care unit. I have had the opportunity of reassessing and reaffirming my life with the support of my family around me. I have been fortunate thus far in having been raised in a safe, supportive and loving family environment, having enjoyed a successful career as a lawyer and having been chosen as the mayor of the greatest city in the world. But I have been especially fortunate in having my family who have been hugely supportive of me in recent months.

I want to make special mention of my wife Shan. I want to convey to you all my love for her and my appreciation for her extraordinarily positive support during the darkest of times. All through her life, Shan has tried to stay out of the limelight as she is naturally shy. When I suffered my heart attack and was taken to hospital, there was an extraordinary media interest in my health status. Despite Shan’s natural preference to keep a low profile, she fronted up on behalf of my family, myself and our council to inform the community through the media as to my progress. This was a hugely difficult time for her. I’m fortunate indeed with many things in my life but I am particularly fortunate to have Shan as my wife. She has been superb.

I have also received wonderful support from the community. I have had a chance to reflect on many of the messages which came through with all the flowers, the cards, the texts and the emails. All were overwhelmingly supportive of the sense of change – in style and direction – that people have seen happen since I became mayor. This has affirmed my underlying philosophies relating to my leadership and where our council and city need to be moving into the future. I have loved the direct relationship I have had with young people through our schools and also with the wider community through all the meetings I attend and through correspondence such as this letter.
The community is responding to openness and transparency. I have always valued having a close connection with the community – a connection which has been hugely helpful in forming my opinions. I also believe in the democratic ideal of people participating in the direction and future of their own communities.

So many of the messages talked about our community and where we are going, especially in issues of safety and pride. One of the first statements I made as mayor was the need for us to have a city which is clean, tidy and proud. My emphasis has always been on pride and doing whatever it takes to give our residents reasons for being proud of their homes, their streets, their suburb and their city. The message to me was that we are on the right track in how we are going about pursuing that vision.
When I came out of hospital I spent a lot of time walking in different parts of the city to get my fitness levels up. I am a strong believer in sweating the small stuff. So if I saw any graffiti, or signs out of place, or any potholes on the road or footpath breakages, wherever I went, I was on the phone to council officers to fix the problem. In my view, this is an essential part of us being proud of who we are and of ourselves going forward. We must sweat the small stuff to make sure we as a community get the little things right. If we do that the big things will take care of themselves.

I was lucky enough to attend the Warriors game at Mt Smart on Friday night. It was a brilliant occasion for all. At the end of the evening a young guy came up to me. He expressed his pleasure that I was on my feet and then started regaling me with his concern for our community and the way we are perceived elsewhere. He was particularly annoyed with the talkback host Michael Laws who, in his view “had been dissing south Auckland”. The young man told me that many people don’t understand how proud we are of our community and that it was important that I continue to deliver the message of pride in community, no matter how difficult things may appear to those outside. It’s this message that I take as the strongest signal from the community delivered to me over the last three and a half months.

There is so much to do, so many great things to achieve in our communities and in our city. There are so many dreams to fulfil for our young people as we encourage them going forward. I thank you for your wonderful support and I look forward to being out in the community sharing our hopes and aspirations as we build a place of which we are increasingly proud.

Len Brown
Mayor of Manukau


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