Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Outburst embarrassing

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Manukau City Mayor Len Brown claimed his self-abuse was a Maori gesture. Photo / Janna Dixon
Manukau City Mayor Len Brown claimed his self-abuse was a Maori gesture. Photo / Janna Dixon

Just when I didn't think things could get any worse for Len Brown, he goes and does it again.

And before his fans leap up and down and say I'm part of some spooky right-wing conspiracy, I'm not.

He had my vote before the events of the last couple of weeks. Not for any particularly compelling reason. I just thought that if we had a centre-right government, it balanced things up a bit to have a centre-left mayor.

Bit flimsy, I know, but given the calibre of the candidates, that was the best I could do.

Now all bets are off. First there were the credit card irregularities. I could just about overlook that as it seems a vast majority of our elected officials have difficulty in working out the difference between a work expense and household shopping.

Then came the claims of persecution and the protestations of being victimised. That was unattractive, but what really turned me off was the performance Brown gave to the Manukau City Council on Tuesday night.

When I say performance, I don't for a minute think he was acting. Far from it. I think he believed every word when he cried out passionately that he'd risen from his hospital bed after a near-fatal heart attack for the love of the people.

That when he walked in the door, looking like a bloody skeleton, it was because he cared, not because he could put a few more cups of coffee on the mayoral credit card. I'm sure that's true.

But emotional blackmail is hardly a rational response to requests for financial accountability. Nor is beating yourself about the head and face.

That was weird. In his soliloquy, Brown repeatedly hit himself in the face and chest, saying if people had a problem, they should come and see him.

That was enough for me.

You need somebody a little less ... overwrought ... as mayor of New Zealand's first super city. Someone who can take the rigours of the job. It would surely be injurious to Len Brown's health if he was elected as mayor.

Then for him to claim later that his self-abuse was a Maori gesture - a little light kanohi te kanohi - oh, please. You're not Maori, Len, and the council chambers is not a marae. Middle-aged white men should never try to pass as Maori.

The image of Len slapping himself on the face is now seared into my consciousness along with Bill English's topless haka and I'd really rather it wasn't. Len looked more like Homer Simpson than a proud Maori warrior.

What is it about Auckland's mayors? Andrew Williams, Bob Harvey, John Banks and Len Brown. Eccentrics, at best. Barking, at worst.

They say you get the representatives you deserve. The one politician who did score points this week would have to be Phil Goff.

He came over all testosterone-engorged and masterful when he sent Chris Carter home for not playing nicely with the media and a little bit more of that might see him climb in the polls.

- Herald on Sunday

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