Key not seeking apology over 'obnoxious' texts

By Claire Trevett

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams. Photo / Brett Phibbs
North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Prime Minister John Key says he is not interested in seeking an apology from North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams over late night text messages that disturb his sleep.

Mr Williams yesterday hit back over revelations of his late-night "obnoxious" texts to John Key, implying the Prime Minister was thin-skinned and that he himself is the victim of "tall poppy syndrome".

Mr Key had described texts from Mr Williams as "aggressive" and "obnoxious". They were sometimes sent as late as 3.30am.

Today Mr Key told Breakfast on TV One that Mr Williams tended to "rant and rave" in long messages largely about the supercity changes in Auckland.

"There's been a few in the last six or seven months and they come at all sorts of weird times of the day and night, generally actually not the day," he said.

"The problem I have is I have to leave my phone on at night... just in case there's a serious issue and someone needs me, and occasionally I have been woken up."

Yesterday, Mr Williams released a statement saying he took issue with Mr Key's description of his texts as "aggressive".

"Politicians need to have thick skins and I certainly get plenty of pointed messages, texts and emails on different subjects but that goes with the territory."

The mayor said he had seen Mr Key several times recently and the Prime Minister had not mentioned any concerns.

"Might have been nice if he said something to my face if he had any issues with me."

Mr Key said he had not bothered to complain.

"I'm not going to complain about text messages. I've got a pretty thick skin, I just don't spend any time worrying about it."

Mr Key told Newstalk ZB that he did not think the texts were worthy of a reply and the points made in them were "not overly" sensible.

"I don't mind if people communicate with me, there's a better way to get my attention than to text me at 3 in the morning I would have thought."

Asked he wanted an apology, he said: "No I don't care about that."

Mr Williams said he also texted other Cabinet ministers, including the three North Shore-based MPs - Wayne Mapp (North Shore), Jonathan Coleman (Northcote) and Murray McCully (East Coast Bays).

Dr Mapp said he had received many texts from Mr Williams and agreed they could be aggressive in tone.

"The Prime Minister is entirely accurate. I know that Andrew feels strongly about issues. Let us put it this way, if you receive a text that is largely in capital letters with multiple exclamation marks, you are reasonably confident that the person sending it is feeling particularly aggrieved about the point."

He sometimes replied to Mr Williams, "but not in the same style, I hasten to add".

"Invariably there are some substantive points he is trying to make, although he might put it in a colourful manner. So I sometimes send a message back or ring him."

While Dr Mapp did not recall what times the messages had arrived, he had noticed some at unusual hours.

One of Mr Williams' opponents is Cam Slater, known as the blogger Whaleoil, who yesterday posted recordings of messages Mr Williams allegedly left on the answerphone of former North Shore Mayor George Wood.

In those, Mr Williams asks Mr Wood to call him, saying he has had two years of listening to Mr Wood's "diatribes" and reading his letters to the editor and "would like to have it out with you in full".

In other messages, he tells Mr Wood to "get on with being former mayor" and says he is an "embarrassment for North Shore City".

"I would have thought now you've got your CNZM [Companion of NZ Order of Merit] you would have a bit more decorum."

- With NZPA

- NZ Herald

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