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Len Brown's Auckland Mayoralty Candidacy Speech

Len Brown's Auckland Mayoralty Candidacy Launch (Speech)

A mayor for All of Auckland

We come here today with many of us focused, perhaps as never before, on our city. Auckland is poised at an historical moment, a civic coming together, a time for committing to a unity of purpose and vision, to the establishment of a world city - the pre-eminent economic and cultural hub in the South Pacific.

We are at a special place, here in Cornwall Park at the centre of our region. A place where we come to meet, play and enjoy – this is symbolic of the coming together of us all. Maungakiekie is more than just one of Auckland’s great parks. It is a legacy to a great Aucklander - John Logan Campbell - the ‘father of Auckland’, whose life embodies more than any other the spirit of the city. His grave lies on the summit – befitting the person who donated this space to our city.

But Logan Campbell’s legacy is greater than just this magnificent park. Over five decades of public life, he worked tirelessly to build the fabric of this city. He served on scores of committees, boards, trusts or directorates. He ceaselessly donated to social, charitable and educational causes. He established Auckland’s first arts school, and many other important institutions.

It is fitting, then, that as we contemplate the future of this city, as it undergoes great change, that we do so mindful of the efforts of those who went before. We are standing on the shoulders of our great pioneers. It is time to reconnect with our history to find our pathway to the future. What Logan Campbell and others bequeathed to us is a city which is yearning, inquisitive, and growing. We can be self indulgent and cheeky, but never to be a capital again, always to be adventurous, searching and stretching.

We have within us the potential to build one of the world’s finest cities. We will never be the biggest, or the wealthiest, or the glizziest or most glamorous, let alone the driest, but we enjoy a range of features – the combination of which gives us a unique quality of life.

We are blessed with a truly special natural environment – our harbours and beaches, our volcanic cones, the ranges in the west and south, the islands and the Hauraki Gulf. Our harbour and beaches give us an inner city setting which is the envy of the world. Our climate allows us to enjoy this beautiful place 12 months of the year, even if from under the cover of an umbrella.

The new city which is being created will become the guardian of the environment, building on this priceless resource to protect and enhance the natural beauty for our community in perpetuity.

We are also blessed with a unique blend of peoples and communities – Maori and Pakeha, our Pacific peoples, our Asian communities, and new communities from the Middle East and Africa. It provides us with a unique vibrancy, bustle, energy, creativity, resourcefulness and diversity.

Given the announcement last week on council Maori representation, I want to especially acknowledge Ngati Whatua and Tainui. They have a special and unique place in the history of this city. They are the kaitiaki of this place of Tamaki Makaurau. They sense a loss of place in this new structure. I want Maori around the table. The mana whenua have an increasing business presence within our city, and we need to inspire our young Maori to excel at education and take up the new economy’s opportunities. Our city will boom from tourism, and our Maori culture is our greatest asset to promote. We need to be inclusive and allow the many traditions of our indigenous culture to enrich us.

Our diversity is the wellspring of our future prosperity. Our new communities have come here from other countries with a positive spirit – to get a new life, a job, an education, start a new business, or to find freedom. Let’s share, embrace and celebrate them. We can be one of the world’s great cultural centres, fired by generous spirit of humanity, welcome, tolerance and understanding.

What is true – across every sphere of society – is that when Auckland is thriving, New Zealand thrives. The challenge before us, therefore, is to build the foundations to allow the new Auckland to thrive more brightly than ever.

I believe that our people, our communities must be at the centre of the new Auckland. Communities have been central to all that I have worked for. Local government must be local. Especially now. Especially as Auckland comes together. People across our region have asked ‘Len, what about us? All the money will now go to the CBD’. We must today commit ourselves as much to the building of our communities across our region as to our CBD.

Auckland, I believe, needs a mayor who believes in communities and people. A mayor who unites, who brings people together, who is not a divider. A mayor must lead, but true leaders do so in an inclusive way, taking the community with them.

Today, I declare my candidacy to be mayor for all of Auckland.

I offer a leadership style which is inclusive - which recognises and seeks to harness the skills and promote the reasonable aspirations of others. I want to be defined not by what I stand against, but for what I stand for. I will demonstrate and maintain my leadership through having a clear vision and goals for the region – all parts of it – and being accountable for it.

We face many challenges and opportunities.

We need to deliver a better way forward for Auckland through strong economic growth. This is a city which will in 20 years have 45 percent of New Zealand’s population and 50 percent of its GDP. We need programmes which help our youth into training and jobs. We must tackle the big infrastructure issues - rolling out broadband to the entire community within five years, and taking fifty percent of our waste stream into a green waste recycling strategy. We can become the pre-eminent tourism destination, and need to build convention centres with private sector assistance. It is essential that we develop for our business community stronger links with our trading partners across Asia and the Pacific.

In the 1950s we ripped up our inner city tramlines and in the 1960s we lost many harbour ferries with the opening of the harbour bridge. Motorways have shaped our expansion and urban design. We now need to be focused on retrofitting our city to free up our roads to ensure a choice of options for those going to and from work and school, to move the visitors coming in from our sea and airports, so as to provide commerce with a transportation system befitting a trading nation.

At the very centre, we need a 21st century public transport system. We need to back fully the implementation of a region-wide integrated ticketing system so that one ticket or pass will enable journeys that mix bus, train and ferry transport.

We need to build on the enormous work led by Waitakere, the eco city, and picked up by the other cities. Sustainability must be central. We must protect the magnificent Waitakere Ranges, ensure the east coast beaches are clean during high rainfall, stop the sediment clogging up our estuaries, and protect the air we breathe. I want to see a brilliant waterfront, the historic interface between our people and nature. I am for our pasture lands and their critical importance as a food base for our people, providing a sustainable life line on our doorstep. We must protect our heritage to record our past and show it off to our future.

We need to grow our future, not sell it. Public ownership of key assets – ports and airports – is crucial to building a world-class city. I believe in public ownership. I will never sell the region’s public assets. And I will continue this fight on behalf of all of Auckland.

We are a kids city. We need to empower our young people, giving them hope and dreams, and build for them a platform from which to excel. We must be a centre of educational excellence. In Manukau, 18 percent of those aged under 25 are not in school, do not have a job, and are not in tertiary or skills training. We need a programme such as that in Otorohanga which matches young people with education and job opportunities. We cannot afford to leave our young behind.

We need a mayor who is out there, in touch with the community, developing a city based on strong, safe communities – committed to parks, libraries, swimming pools and programmes for young people and families. Over time, I want to see Manukau’s free entry to swimming pools extended across the city. I want to lead a council committed to a thriving cultural and arts community, reflecting the rich diversity of cultures of our city.

We need to make this a safe place, drawing parameters of social responsibility, highlighting our pride. We can get rid of graffiti – as we are doing in Manukau with significant success - with a single minded application of commitment and care, and tidiness a reflection of our pride. We say no to criminal behaviour, to drugs, to gangs - such a drain on our economy, our emotions, our families. We need to focus our police on the streets as we work towards a common goal of safety in our neighbourhoods.

We need a mayor who can deliver an affordable future, keeping costs low so that people are not rated out of their homes. We will protect those in the community least able to bear the ever-rising charges imposed on them. As my track record shows, I will be a mayor who keeps rate rises down.

We need a council which represents every part of the region. We should not be the council that sits solely in Queen St. If I am mayor, my council will meet in Queen St and the inner city, but also Henderson Valley Rd and Waitakere, Hurstmere Rd and the North Shore, Centreway Rd and Rodney, Coles Crescent and Papakura, Manukau Rd and Franklin, and Wiri Station Rd and Manukau.

I am proudly Manukau, but I am proudly an Aucklander. I was born in Taumaranui but shifted to Otara when I was 7. I then grew up in Papatoetoe. My first school was Mayfield Primary. After Papatoetoe Intermediate, I spent five years at De La Salle College, and then entered Auckland University to study arts and law.

All my working life has been in Auckland, working as a lawyer, a councillor and now as a mayor. I have lived in Auckland, and this city lives in me.

It would be a privilege to serve and represent the people of Auckland as we look to unite this city as never before.

This is going to be an amazing campaign. We are going to have hundreds of people on the ground. We are going to be on the doorsteps, in town halls, cottage meetings, school classrooms, factory floors, and boardrooms.

We are building a coalition of people committed in the community, in business, in this room. It is time to galvanise, organize, to be ready. We have an opportunity to unleash this city, to set the culture and values, to work together. I ask you to join us, stand by us.

It is time to reach out to all our communities – Warkworth, Titirangi, Grey Lynn, Pukekohe, Remuera, Otara, Muriwai Beach – to engage and include us all, the four corners, our whole region.

To reach out to all, no matter our colour or creed.

To reach out to our young people, fire their imaginations, inspire their dreams.

To reach out to New Zealand. We are proud sons and daughters of our nation. Our success is crucial to the country’s future.

To reach out to the world. To compete in the global marketplace. Export our unique culture and energy, and exhibit our innovation and brilliance.

This is not what I thought was in my stars 18 months ago when I was elected Mayor of Manukau. But I would be humbled and proud to lead this city at this unique, historic time. I invite you to assist me in my campaign to be mayor for All of Auckland.

Thank you.


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