Snubbed: Wayne Brown's request for deputy PM and senior officials to work with Auckland councillors turned down

4:06 pm on 26 November 2022
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown at the council's governing body meeting.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown Photo: Auckland Council

Auckland's new mayor had wanted the deputy prime minister and other senior officials work alongside city councillors on key issues, with the results of their work to be made public this month.

The request was made before Wayne Brown's first meeting with the prime minister in October, but was turned down.

Brown declined to comment on the matter but a spokesperson said it was "an initial idea put to the Prime Minister's Office but was not agreed".

A draft media release - obtained through the Official Information Act - sent by the mayor's office to the Prime Minister's Office by mayor Brown's communications advisor Matthew Hooton shows what was planned.

"A small group of senior ministers and the mayor and senior councillors will undertake a short work programme to ensure good alignment between the government and Auckland Council on key issues," it stated.

"This work programme will align existing joint programmes, including the Auckland Transport Alignment Programme and the Urban Growth Joint Programme."

It also detailed the government team would consist of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Minister for Maori Crown Relations, Children and Corrections Kelvin Davis, Attorney-General and Environment Minister David Parker and Immigration, Transport and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood.

"The council team will be chose to provide matching experience once the council's new committee structure and roles have been determined. It will include the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and chief executive," the draft release said.

It added the results of the "short work programme" would be reported publicly by 12 December.

A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's Office said it was a pre-written press release from the mayor's office that did not reflect the outcome of the meeting.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met Brown at his top-floor office on 20 October.

Emails between the two offices before the meeting show Hooton had also requested media wait outside while the meeting took place.

"Following the meeting, the agreed statement would be distributed to the media waiting in the foyer of the mayor's office, and electronically," he wrote.

"The prime minister and mayor would then go out to meet the media, shake hands and take a few questions, before the prime minister departs through the main lifts."

A the time, the prime minister's advisor replied "as per the PM's other introductory meetings with new mayors, we won't invite media. But if you would like the moment captured by a council photographer, we're very happy for that image to be released to media".

Hooton had attached the draft media release.

"Regarding the statement, given that it's an introductory meeting kicking things off, I don't think that's necessary," the PM's advisor said.

The media statement was released on the day of the meeting without any mention of an agreed short work programme.

On the day, Ardern spoke to media after later meeting with the new Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Simon Bridges.

Her meeting with Brown was her third meeting with a newly elected mayor - following Christchurch and Wellington.

"An opportunity to sit down and talk about where there may be shared priorities, and in each case there has been. I'd say the same for the meeting with mayor Brown," she said at the time.

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