Tamihere confirms bid for Auckland mayoralty

1:04 pm on 26 January 2019

Auckland has become a lap dog for central government which is imposing unfair taxes and constraints on the city, say John Tamihere and Christine Fletcher as they announce a bid to topple Mayor Phil Goff.

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John Tamihere today announced he will run for Auckland mayor in October on a ticket with Christine Fletcher. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

Mr Tamihere, a former Labour cabinet minister, will run for mayor in the October elections on a ticket with the former National Cabinet minister Christine Fletcher.

At an official announcement in West Auckland this morning, the pair hit out at Mr Goff, saying he was a poor leader for both the council and the city.

Aucklanders were paying more than they should with charges like "Goff's Gas Tax" (the regional fuel tax) as well as "stealth taxes" levied by the council, Mr Tamihere said.

They city was a third of New Zealand's population, generated 41 percent of the economic activity and deserved more, he said.

"Christchurch, we put our hands in our pockets to rebuild - billions of dollars - we never batted an eyelid as Aucklanders because they had need," he said.

"Auckland now has need. It needs reciprocity from central government because we can no longer be used as Phil Goff's ATM machine every blinkin' day."

Ms Fletcher, a current Auckland councillor, had been a frequent critic of Mr Goff.

Her campaign was not personal - she had even voted for him - but there had now been a failure of leadership, she said.

"The ribbons Phil Goff has been cutting over the last two years are all the work of other people. There won't be too many ribbons next year to be cut because the projects are simply not being delivered at the moment," she said.

Ms Fletcher and Mr Tamihere said they had often admired each other politically, despite being from opposite sides of the political spectrum.

They had sat in parliament at the same time and had worked together on an Auckland Council's Finance and Performance Committee.

Mr Tamihere had been embroiled in many controversies in his career including being accused of "victim blaming" after an interview on his radio show with a young woman caught up in the Roast Busters sexual assault ring in 2015.

He had made derogatory comments about women, gay people and Jewish people in the past.

He told reporters today his long political career meant many of his mistakes had been made in the public eye and he had learnt from them.

As the election campaign geared up, Mr Tamihere said would step down from several other key roles he currently held, including as head of the Waipareira Trust and of Te Pou Matakana, an organisation that distributes Whānau Ora funding.

He did not say whether he would return to those roles if he lost.

Mr Goff had not yet announced whether he would stand again but indicated last year he was enjoying the job of mayor and still had work to do.