Former Auckland City mayor Dame Cath Tizard has broken a 17-year silence on local politics by backing Dick Hubbard for her old job.
Dame Cath yesterday said Mr Hubbard and his wife, Diana, were assiduous in their support of community organisations and doing an excellent job around Auckland.
She said Mr Hubbard got a raw deal as an inexperienced politician from some of his council when he won the mayoralty in 2004 but had learned on the job.
"What was done to Dick by his deputy mayor when he was very new and still finding his feet was just outrageous."
She was referring to Dr Bruce Hucker, who unveiled a social blueprint for the city only weeks after the election when Mr Hubbard was out of town. The incident undermined Mr Hubbard's authority and led to an unsuccessful bid by the new mayor to dump his deputy.
Dame Cath was mayor of Auckland City from 1983 until 1990 when she was appointed Governor-General.
She is a member of the Tizard Labour family - former husband, Bob, was a Labour Party deputy leader and daughter Judith is Labour's Minister for Auckland Issues.
She said she had "absolutely not" been put up by Labour to endorse Mr Hubbard and had no idea what the party's position was.
At the launch of Mr Hubbard's website yesterday, Dame Cath said next month's election could be a close contest between Mr Hubbard and former mayor John Banks.
She did not buy into Mr Banks' promise for a new style and new policies: "All I can say [about Mr Banks] is I was dismayed he did not listen when he was mayor. Dick Hubbard is a man who listens."
Dame Cath said there were mayoral candidates who were not going to win but could be spoilers. She named Dr John Hinchcliff and Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney as candidates who could take crucial votes on the left and right.
Asked about Mr Hubbard's achievements, Dame Cath, known for a sense of humour, said: "With what some councillors have done to him, staying sane I should think."