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The Mayor of Auckland City Speech

11 November 2004

The Mayor of Auckland City Speech – First Full Council Meeting 11 November 2004

Tonight I’m aware of the weight of history as we commence our first full council meeting. I understand I am the 39th mayor to occupy this important position, representing the people of Auckland City.

We have approximately 143 years of council history behind us.

There is even a sense of history associated with this council chamber. If you close your eyes you can easily imagine the voices of some of the famous city fathers of many years ago.

Although the term city fathers is seen as an outdated term, I actually like the connotations of it.

It is a term that implies trusteeship and stewardship, and possibly carries a deeper meaning than the term councillor.

What I like about the term, if we ignore the gender bias that is now unacceptable in modern context, is that it brings in the concept of fraternity.

I believe that this is a very important concept. I see fraternity as simply the looking after of people.

The French acknowledge the concept of fraternity in their much loved tri-colour flag.

At one end of the flag they have the colour blue representing freedom, with its modern right-wing connotations. At the other end they have the colour red, symbolising equality and its left-wing connotations. Right in the middle and often overlooked is the symbolic white colour representing fraternity.

I challenge this council tonight to move away from the increasingly out moded concept of right-wing versus left-wing, which is based on economic models.

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I am going to challenge the council to think in terms of fraternity – looking after the people of our city, and seeing ourselves, both male and female, as city fathers.

Inherent in the concept of me being a modern day city father, is the concept of leadership.

Organisations, big and small, government, local body and private, rise or fall, succeed or fail, on the basis of the quality of leadership.

The greatest achievements of mankind have all come from strong, sound leadership. Some of the greatest disasters of mankind have come as a result of strong but inappropriate leadership.

Each councillor has to see him or herself as a leader. They must accept the moral responsibility, the restraints and the understanding of leadership principles that go with this important role.

Each of you will be watched and observed not only by the people of Auckland but by the whole of New Zealand. Your behaviour and your moral standards will be on a pedestal, lit by a strong spotlight.

It goes without saying that the mayor’s leadership model is an important part of this equation.

During the vigorous election campaign process it was very apparent that the question of leadership and leadership style was the most defining feature.

The three mayoral candidates offered different leadership styles.

I was selected largely as result of the leadership style that I promised to the people of Auckland.

Tonight I want to clearly outline to you what those elements are.

My style is a less political leadership style. I believe the fact that I come from a business background is an advantage. I believe the people want pragmatic, sensible and business-like leadership, where the emphasis is on high standards of governance, high standards of debate and high quality decision making.

I believe that the people of Auckland do not like and inherently distrust political wheeling and dealing. There is an abhorrence of ego trips and spin.

They want openness, transparency and honesty.

We ignore these messages at our peril.

Inherent in the concept of leadership is the question of teamwork. A leader can only be as good as the team that he creates or builds.

I reaffirm my pledge tonight to put as much emphasis as I can on the concept of teamwork.

In my comments to the unofficial meeting on the Monday after the election I referred to the ‘Team 20’ concept.

The ‘Team 20’ concept, for those of you here tonight that weren’t at that meeting, simply acknowledges the fact that the 19 councillors and myself represent a team of 20.

We rise and fall on our ability to function as team.

I therefore pledge that I will be putting as much emphasis as I can within the constraints and confines of the political and legal system to foster a sense of teamwork.

Part of that concept means that we have to help each other when a member of the team falters or fails. I will be asking for that commitment from all of you regardless of your political persuasion.

In any team there can only be one captain at the helm.

That is clearly my role.

As captain, I keep the ship running to optimum efficiency. I also have responsibility for the course that is set.

I may not have the final say for the course but I am still accountable to the people of Auckland, for both the direction and the destination.

Both myself and the council of leaders have to ensure that as we develop our policies we have the appropriate buy-in from the people of Auckland and that we are moving at a pace that they are comfortable with.

We may have to try and persuade them to run faster to keep up with us on some issues. Ultimately our speed must be determined by their speed.

Finally, let me talk about vision. It is essential that we combine our work on the nuts and bolts of keeping this city running with a very strong emphasis on the city of the future.

True progress can only be made with a strong vision.

Visionary action requires boldness and calculated risk taking.

True visionaries cannot be timid.

I ask you to come on a visionary journey with me.

I challenge you to look out of left field and imagine what is over the horizon.

I will not allow unique ideas to be overlooked.

I want an environment where bold ideas flourish.

Where they take form and lead us to the future that our beautiful city deserves.


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