Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Filipaina stays quiet on Rio jaunt - but Facebook reveals all

A Sky TV screen grab of councillor Alf Filipaina at the sevens at the Rio Olympics was loaded on his Facebook wall by Labour MP Louisa Wall. Photo / Supplied
A Sky TV screen grab of councillor Alf Filipaina at the sevens at the Rio Olympics was loaded on his Facebook wall by Labour MP Louisa Wall. Photo / Supplied

The man leading the Auckland Council's blueprint for future development is not talking about his controversial trip to Rio - but photos circulating on social media show he had a whale of a time.

Alf Filipaina, chairman of the Unitary Plan committee, came under fire for heading to the Olympics while his colleagues ploughed through details of the plan at a marathon, seven-day meeting at Auckland Town Hall.

The $105,800 a year councillor was staying quiet about his eyebrow-raising holiday to Brazil when contacted by the Weekend Herald.

"As far as I am concerned the whole thing is done and dusted," he said. "I have nothing to add."

Filipaina was at Rio to cheer on a niece, who was taking part in the women's rugby sevens competition. He did not have council funding for the trip.

Pictures of the Manukau councillor enjoying himself in the crowd at a sports stadium in Brazil were recently posted to Facebook by Labour Party MP Louisa Wall.

"Kia Ora. Good start OUR Women's 7s Team," Wall wrote. "Awesome that you are there to tautoko Alf Filipaina!"

Filipaina skipped the Unitary Plan meeting in Auckland by tendering an apology, which was accepted at the start of the meeting.

Unlike workers, councillors do not have a leave entitlement and can go on holiday at any time so long as they tender an apology or get leave of absence from mayor Len Brown.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse, who has shepherded the future development plan through with Filipaina, backed her colleague.

Also posting on Filipaina's Facebook page, she wrote: "travel safely dear Alf, Rio may never recover!!! Xxxx."

Other friends and family gave the thumbs up to his photos from Brazil.

"Very cool. I hope that is a camera in your hand and not a handle? Enjoy the sun," wrote one friend.

Another wag joked: "Duty free please Alf ... "

Yesterday, the Herald revealed council body Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development had come under fire for sending two staff to the Olympics at a cost of $29,000.

- NZ Herald

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