Lynley Bilby

Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Chuang pays price for affair

Bevan Chuang says her career is in ruins as her extramarital liaison with Len Brown sees her lose roles

Chuang is disappointed the Auckland Chinese community feels the need to distance themselves from her, saying she had put her heart and soul into community work. Photo / NZ Herald
Chuang is disappointed the Auckland Chinese community feels the need to distance themselves from her, saying she had put her heart and soul into community work. Photo / NZ Herald

Mayor Len Brown's former mistress confesses that revealing their affair has come at a cost, as she is dropped from prominent roles in community organisations.

Bevan Chuang told the Herald on Sunday that her career was in ruins after the explosive revelations of the two-year-long relationship.

This week, she was fired via email from a high-powered community committee. Several other voluntary organisations are reviewing her roles and her Auckland Council contract to run the New Lynn Night Markets hangs in the balance after it expired Friday.

On Thursday, Brown was censured by his council after an EY (Ernst & Young) report into the affair with Chuang.

It found he did not use council resources during the liaison, but there was widespread concern over his acceptance of hotel upgrades and freebies.

Despite calls for his resignation, the mayor has held on to his job at the helm of the Supercity.

At the same time, Chuang - who was not implicated in the report - has been forced out of the Chinese Garden Steering Committee.

Steering committee co-chair and eminent Auckland architect Ron Sang said even though Chuang was well qualified, it was felt she had attracted unnecessary attention and this might jeopardise the project.

"As you know, it's a very sensitive issue at the moment," said Sang.

"We had a committee discussion with my co-chair and we decided it is probably the right thing to do. I think she's totally qualified for the job but because of the publicity, we prefer not to be associated with that."

In a social media post, Chuang revealed that Sang had decided her continued membership threatened to compromise the Chinese garden project and she had to go. He wrote to her: "It has been expressed to me by parties who have an interest in the project that they cannot see their way clear to work with the project if you continue to be on the steering committee."

Ron Sang says even though Chuang is well qualified, the unnecessary attention she may attract could jeopardise the project. Photo / NZ Herald
Ron Sang says even though Chuang is well qualified, the unnecessary attention she may attract could jeopardise the project. Photo / NZ Herald

Chuang said the committee had overlooked the important work she had done between local Maori and the Chinese community.

She had forged a close relationship with Ngati Whatua and had the tribe's support in creating a special Chinese garden for Auckland.

Chuang said she was disappointed the "conservative" element in the Chinese community had felt the need to distance themselves from her, saying she had put her heart and soul into community work.

"I spend more time volunteering for them than my paid job."

She said coming clean over the affair had cost her more than she imagined. "I naively thought that my name will not be out and no one would know who I am."

But she said she would now use her very public profile to promote issues she was passionate about.

"I see that I am now a clean slate and can start again.

"There is a life beyond the story which I need to build and live."

This included developing a type of Angel Fund start-up investment fund to support social enterprises.

Chuang said she did not have "much of a social life" and was currently single.

News of her affair with Brown broke just days after he was re-elected mayor. There were suggestions she was pressured to reveal the details by another lover, Luigi Wewege, who worked on John Palino's mayoral campaign.

Chuang said it was too soon to say what the professional cost would ultimately be, and she was getting a lot of support from friends and colleagues.

- Herald on Sunday

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