JT to shake up Auckland mayoralty elections

Politics can make some strange bedfellows. (Are we still allowed that expression?) Think Winston and the Greens. Who thought that would ever happen? Now we are about to get a Labour-National combined tilt at the Auckland mayoralty.

Still, anything at all could not be worse for the city than Phil Goff following Len Brown. It is almost at the point where the prime qualification to be better than the current lot running Auckland is to answer yes to the question, “Have you got a pulse?” quote.

One-time Labour cabinet minister turned talkback host John Tamihere appears poised to launch a long-signalled bid to become Auckland’s next mayor.

Tamihere has scheduled an unspecified announcement for 9.30am on Saturday, and he will host a “special announcement” on Facebook. […] end quote.

What is it with politicians and Social Media? A real world actually exists outside Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. quote.

Stuff understands Tamihere will make the unusual move of naming his prospective deputy and running-mate, as former National Party minister Christine Fletcher.

Tamihere told Stuff in October he had canvassed existing councillors to see what support he would have in the event of a mayoral bid.

“I’m ticking boxes, and so far the boxes are all getting ticked,” he said in October, on the likelihood of him standing.

Tamihere’s public life has been a roller coaster, and he is likely to provide the highest-profile competition to the incumbent Phil Goff.

Tamihere has had a high-profile and at times controversial public life. […]

Tamihere was elected to Parliament in Helen Clark’s 1999 Labour government, after winning the M?ori seat of Hauraki.

He became a junior cabinet minister in his second term, until stepping down in 2004 during an inquiry into tax liabilities in his term as CEO of Waipareira, which found no wrong doing.

Tamihere’s career as an MP effectively ended in 2005 when a conversation recorded by Ian Wishart of Investigate magazine was published and quoted Tamihere as referring to women as “frontbums“.

He lost his seat to the new M?ori Party’s co-leader Pita Sharples.

Tamihere unsuccessfully ran for the Wait?kere City mayoralty in 2007, and found a new calling as a talkback radio host alongside Willie Jackson on Radio Live.

That career move ended in controversy at the end of 2013, over the tone of an interview connected with the “Roastbusters” scandal, a group of young men who boasted on social media of allegedly raping women and girls as young as 13.

His running mate – a new concept in local body elections – is expected to be confirmed as Christine Fletcher, a one-term mayor of Auckland City, and three-term National MP from 1990-1999.

Fletcher has spent three terms on the Auckland Council, holding one of two seats in the Albert-Eden-Roskill ward. […] end quote.


Perhaps some sense is entering the Local Body scene? Most towns and cities seem to get by without tribal national politics entering the fray. Why is there a need for Labour tickets to run a local authority? Looking after the water supply, sewage, footpaths and so on does not seem a particularly National/Labour issue.

I’m picking that JT will shake up the political classes by creating a coalition of the willing who will agree to sign up to 5 core pledges. I think that one of the five pledges will be to focus on core service delivery for the council rather than the usual fancy-dancy projects that they currently expect the government to fund.

So will we see a cross the spectrum ‘ ticket’ that will have left, right and centre?

Are there enough candidates out there who, like many Aucklanders, are heartily sick of Phil Goff and consider that a combined ticket has a better chance than sticking to the tribal National/Labour format?

Looking at the field, what might we hear from JT as to the make up of his team?

From the left: Mike Lee, Wayne Walker, Cathy Casey and Efeso Collins?

From the right: Christine Fletcher, Sharon Stewart, Daniel Newman and Greg Sayers could be starters.

This will alienate Desley Simpson and her own mayoral aspirations unless she gets on board and FAST.

For Goff’s part, he might find grandstanding at Middlemore hospital and going on tours with police, friendly journalists and PR people in tow, is detrimental.

If JT assembles a star cast of advisors and political activists from across the political spectrum to support and run his campaign it could make for an interesting contest as it is unlikely that Goff is sure-footed or quick-witted enough to deal with JT.

Watch this space.