3 Feb 2023

Auckland flooding: Mayor Wayne Brown apologises for slow communications

2:23 pm on 3 February 2023
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown speaking to the media about the Auckland flooding on 30 January 2023.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown Photo: RNZ / Finn Blackwell

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has admitted he "dropped the ball" last week when the city faced unprecedented rainfall which resulted in three deaths across the region.

Brown and the Auckland Council have faced criticism over the time taken for the state of emergency to be declared, which happened just before 10pm on Friday, and not communicating sooner as the torrential rain was occurring.

In a recorded video on YouTube and statement on the council's website today, Brown acknowledged he made mistakes on Friday night.

"I dropped the ball on Friday," Brown said.

"I was too slow to be seen. The communications weren't fast enough, including mine. I am sorry.

"The priority now, ahead of the Waitangi long weekend, is to ensure that Aucklanders are safe, well-informed and well-supported."

He announced the state of emergency has been extended for another seven days.

On Monday, he did admit there were hiccups in the response, but pointed to the Civil Defence Emergency Management duty controller as being the one "in charge".

It was also revealed that a producer for MediaWorks news station Today FM on Saturday said Brown turned down an interview on Friday morning because he wanted to play tennis instead.

WhatsApp messages leaked to the New Zealand Herald showed rain got in the way, with Brown telling friends on Saturday morning it was "pissing down so no tennis". Despite being freed up, the interview did not go ahead.

And on Saturday night, Brown told the WhatsApp group - known as 'The Grumpy Old Men' - he couldn't play on Sunday either because "I've got to deal with media drongos over the flooding".

In the video released today, he said his thoughts were those who lost loved ones as well as people who were injured or displaced during the floods.

He said the emergency powers he approved on Friday night had barely been used - and this was a sign of the "magnificent" response from Aucklanders.

"Aucklanders have followed the instructions from emergency personnel voluntarily and that makes me proud to be this region's mayor."

He also thanked the prime minister and central government for stepping in when asked, as well as Auckland councillors, local board members and emergency services for their support.

"It's been very humbling for me to see the hardwork of people in our community hubs. I'm very grateful to them, we should all be very grateful to them."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs