Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Brown makes plea for city to back him

Auckland mayor Len Brown arriving at the Mayoral offices in Auckland this morning. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Auckland mayor Len Brown arriving at the Mayoral offices in Auckland this morning. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Len Brown last night said he intended to stay on as Auckland Mayor, and this morning it was business as usual at the Brown family home.

Brown's wife appeared this morning to be trying to get on with her everyday routine following yesterday's revelations her husband had had a two year affair with Bevan Chuang.

Shan Inglis bundled two daughters into her car to take them to school this morning from the family's home in Totara Park, Manukau.

"I'm sorry it's so cold out here," she said to media waiting outside.

"I've got to get the kids to school. Len's got to go to work and I've got to go to work."

Mr Brown arrived at the Auckland Town Hall at 9.20am, his mayoral car diverting from its usual parking spot on Queen St to the underground Civic carpark.

From there, Mr Brown made a swift exit to a backdoor entrance to the Town Hall, telling media "it's good to see you''. He did not answer other questions.

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Mr Brown is expected to spend much of today meeting councillors to discuss their plans as he prepares to tweak the council committee structure and consider appointments.

The first councillor to meet the Mayor was Chris Darby, a first-term councillor elected to one of two seats in the North Shore ward.

After the meeting, Mr Darby had no comment to make about the Mayor's personal issues.
"I'm day four into being a councillor and I'm carrying on with work. There is a lot to do,'' Mr Darby.

- "I'VE CAUSED MY WIFE AND CHILDREN HARM, SHAME, HUMILIATION" -

Last night Mr Brown urged residents to stand by him after admitting to a two-year affair with a woman appointed to a council advisory panel.

In an emotional TV appearance, the 57-year-old mayor asked for space to address the issues with his family.

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Mr Brown was at his Manukau home recovering from the flu when the Whale Oil blogsite yesterday revealed intimate details of the affair with a woman - later identified as Bevan Chuang.

"I have caused my wife and children harm, shame, humiliation," he told Campbell Live last night.

Ms Chuang stood in Saturday's local body elections for the Albert-Eden Local Board on the right-leaning Communities and Residents ticket.

She was appointed to the Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel in March 2011. The mayor is legally responsible for appointing the board.

Mr Brown appointed councillor Richard Northey to interview and hire panellists, including Ms Chuang. Mr Northey said she "interviewed well" and there was no reason she would have met Mr Brown at that stage. Mr Brown beat John Palino by about 55,000 votes on Saturday and last night said he had been re-elected by a strong majority who wanted him as mayor.

"I've loved this job with a passion and I love this city ... it is my intention to stay as the mayor," Mr Brown said, adding people would judge him on the whole.

"I think you will find ... there is an element of political endeavour around the timing of this announcement," he told Campbell Live. "The final count is not done, and ... in my view, is a clear will or determination to try and force a resignation, to try and in effect destroy me."

He said his political record stood but added: "I clearly have a challenge within my family, and it is there where I have failed dismally. And it is now there where I need to go and do some extraordinary repair work, and show my family that I am worthy of their trust and love."

In a statement, Mr Brown said he had told his wife - to whom he has been married for more than 20 years - about the affair. Last night, he said he told her last week.

- THE AFFAIR -

The affair is believed to have started in mid-2011, about a year after Mr Brown's wife was treated for throat cancer.

Ms Chuang, 32, has sworn an affidavit and says she has text messages to back up her claims, according to the report on the Whale Oil site.

She said a security guard once found her naked with Mr Brown in the Ngati Whatua room in the Auckland Town Hall and she thought their relationship would become public.

The pair also had sex in Mr Brown's council office, she said.

The office has photos of Mr Brown's family on the wall.

She also claimed to have been sent an anonymous text message warning her against going public.

The revelations, which the Brown camp got wind of last week, caused emotional scenes at his Manukau lifestyle block property yesterday.

Richard Jeffery, head of the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau and a close friend of Mr Brown, and the Mayor's election campaign strategist and spokesman David Lewis rallied to the Mayor's aid.

Mr Brown's oldest daughter Samantha arrived at the house visibly upset and struggled to hold back her tears as she walked from her car.

She left soon after, sobbing, and returned again with one of her younger sisters in her school uniform, who was distraught.

Mr Brown left the house just before 6pm, getting into the front passenger seat of a waiting vehicle. As he left one of his daughters ran out after him and the pair embraced. He then climbed into the car, looking drawn and pale, and left.

At the Auckland Town Hall, council chief executive Doug McKay, deputy mayor Penny Hulse and mayoral chief of staff Phil Wilson met in Mr Brown's office. Mr McKay said Mr Brown needed space to deal with personal and family issues.

- Additional reporting: Jared Savage, Anna Leask

Tale of morality

Private allegations

* Len Brown says the affair is a private and personal issue which he needs to work through with his family.
* He doesn't plan to resign and while he apologises to the public he has asked them to judge him on his political service, not his personal issues.
* An affair is not illegal but Mr Brown is married with three children.

Public aspect

* He says he did not spend any council money on his affair but it is alleged it happened during work hours and in the council building, including his office.
* It is alleged the couple had sex in the Ngati Whatua room. The room symbolises the iwi's relationship with the Auckland City Council, but is not tapu.
* Bevan Chuang, the woman at the centre of the scandal, stood as a candidate in the Auckland local body elections as a member of the Communities and Residents group. She was also appointed to the Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel in March 2011.

Code of conduct

* Auckland Council Code of Conduct, updated August 2013
* Members have a duty to act honestly and with integrity at all times.
* Members should make decisions on merit. This includes the making of appointments ... [and] merit selection in appointments.
* Members should uphold the law and, on all occasions, act in accordance with the trust the public places in them.
* Members should not use council resources for personal business.

- NZ Herald

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