Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Top official quits over V8 report

Michael Redman says the audit is wrong. Photo / Alan Gibson
Michael Redman says the audit is wrong. Photo / Alan Gibson

The Super City's tourism and events boss, Michael Redman, resigned yesterday, 24 hours after being singled out in a damning review into V8 Supercar races in Hamilton.

Audit New Zealand blamed Mr Redman as chief executive of Hamilton City Council for poor reporting, spending millions of dollars without authorisation and keeping the council in the dark over the street race that cost ratepayers $37.4 million for the first three events.

On Thursday, Mr Redman said the Government's independent audit agency had got its facts wrong.

He said he was being made a scapegoat and Auckland ratepayers had nothing to worry about in his current role as chief executive of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed).

The council-owned body has refused to comment on Mr Redman's involvement in bringing the V8s to Whenuapai in Auckland.

But its board yesterday discussed the Audit New Zealand report behind closed doors before issuing a statement announcing Mr Redman's resignation.

In the statement, board chairman David McConnell thanked Mr Redman for his diligence, hard work and effort in bringing together a strong team and structure in the council-owned body's first year.

He said the board accepted Mr Redman's reasons for leaving.

But he refused to outline those reasons or to say if he had jumped or was pushed.

Mr McConnell, who was "delighted" to attract Mr Redman to Auckland in October last year, would not comment on whether the board took into account the public controversy over the V8 Supercars in Hamilton when he was hired.

The Audit New Zealand report is the second controversy Ateed has faced under the leadership of Mr Redman and Mr McConnell.

Mr Redman oversaw the Rugby World Cup opening night chaos that brought overcrowding on the waterfront and left passenger-packed trains stranded on the line to Eden Park.

This led to Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully riding rough-shod over Mayor Len Brown by announcing the Government was taking control of the wider waterfront before telling the mayor.

In a brief statement, Mr Brown thanked Mr Redman for his work at Ateed, including making the Rugby World Cup a success, and said the resignation would not affect Auckland's proposal to host the V8s.

Mr Redman built up an advertising business in Waikato before winning the Hamilton mayoralty in 2004.

He resigned from the mayoralty in May 2007 and became the council chief executive in July 2007.

The Audit New Zealand report said Mr Redman's strong advocacy as mayor for the V8 Supercars raised questions about whether he should have been involved as chief executive in the decision to award the contract for the event in October 2007.

Mr Redman did not return calls yesterday. On Thursday, he said his council bosses knew of the report: "They will have a look at it and, I'm sure they will draw their own conclusions."

Mr Redman's last day at work is on Tuesday. The board has appointed marketing and communications general manager Grant Jenkins as Ateed's acting chief executive.

City councillor Cameron Brewer said Mr Redman's resignation was a big loss of talent but there was no option given the contents of the 56-page report.

"Auckland Council will probably soon carry out considerable due diligence and cost/benefit analysis around whether Whenuapai Air Base should host the V8s from 2013," he said.

"It would have been difficult to uphold public confidence in that process if Michael Redman was leading the charge as Ateed chief executive."

- Additional reporting: Nikki Preston

- NZ Herald

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