By John Subritzky
Wayne has been a mayor before in the Far North. At a stage of life when most people would be taking it a bit easier, he is driven to accomplish change. Wayne has ridden a wave of discontent about Auckland Council and Auckland Transport in particular. He was also helped in his bid for Mayor by the decline in support for Labour.
Determined to “fix” Auckland, his philosophy could be summed up by the headline to an article about him a couple of years back “Councils led by former MPs never get anything done”. His friend, former Waitakere Mayor, Bob Harvey calls Wayne a “disruptor”.
In May 2021, Wayne told the audience at a Rosebank Business Association meeting, that he was dedicating a year of his life towards his goal of seeing the Ports of Auckland car and container operations moved. He is adamant that the Port of Auckland needs to move. “If you go down Queen Street and turn left towards the Wynyard Quarter you are in the very essence of a liveable city. There is the harbour, people everywhere smiling, nice cafes, fancy office blocks, high wages, and it’s terrific! However, if you go down Queen Street and turn right at the bottom, you are in Gdansk! It’s an ugly several kilometres of unremitting ugliness. The port doesn’t pay rates and doesn’t deliver your stuff on time. You can’t see the harbour or Rangitoto because the view is blocked by car carrier ships.”
To achieve anything, Wayne will need to build consensus among councillors. Wayne says that the three Ps are important: Projects, People, and Politics. Good projects backed by the right people can sometimes navigate their way through the politics which are global, national, and local. National and local politics are massive obstacles to any progress in moving the port.
Election night delivered, on paper, a right leaning Governing Body. That flipped when Julie Fairey (married to Michael Woods, Minister of Transport) was elected over Will McKenzie and Kerrin Leoni ousted Tracy Mulholland here in the Whau by 362 votes.
Tracy was missing in action for most of the campaign. If her campaign had been more vigorous, the outcome could have been different. The Whau may have even had a Deputy Mayor representing us at council. The results in the Whau at council and local board level show strong support for Labour, going against the outgoing tide of electoral support in other areas.
Since the election, Wayne has given few interviews. Instead, he puts out a daily press release. In these, he is showing an extensive interest in the operations of Council Controlled Organisations. He is bringing a lot of clarity and focus, even if he still has a lot of learning to do. As a disruptor, he is making some people and organisations uncomfortable that their status quo is threatened. It is up to them to inform the Mayor (and the rest of us) why their current course is justified and whether there is room for improvement.