Debate chaos: 'I was incredibly drunk'

By Bernard Orsman, Francis Cook

The man at the centre of the chaotic fracas at last night's Auckland University mayoral debate appears unrepentant after yelling "Allahu akbar" and "vote for me" as two candidates faced off.

Adam Holland of Auckland Legalise Cannabis posted the video of the meltdown on Facebook with the words:

"I'm the candidate wearing a Muslim kaftan yelling into the microphone.

"New Zealand debates are boring! this one was awesome.

"Had a lot of fun last night!"

David Hay, who had earlier announced his support for rival candidate Phil Goff, copped a barrage from fellow candidate Alezix Heneti at the end of the meeting.

In the video Heneti repeatedly shouts: "You pulled out. You don't deserve the right to be here," while Holland, provides a running commentary of events, interspersed with cries of "Allahu Akbar!"

Holland told Fairfax he was "incredibly drunk" during the event and was trying "to defuse the situation to some degree".

He later defended his actions on Facebook, writing:

"I, Adam John Holland, in no way endorse or promote violence. I was incredibly drunk at the time and honestly, if the Auckland University Students Association (dropkicks), are offended - I don't care."

He also took the time to lay into fellow candidate Chloe Swarbrick, who is credited with making an effort to stop the fight:

"Chloe Swarbrick is a mess. She touched me many times during the debate out of anger, interrupted other candidates, was shrill, extremely argumentative with members of the audience and she had absolutely no business breaking up that 'fight'," he posted in reply to an article on the Daily Blog.

The debate, organised by the students association and the Daily Blog, was touted as an "anti-debate" to give coverage to the "candidates the mainstream media ignore" and give them an "opportunity to explain their vision to university students".

Daily Blog founder Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury can be heard in the video saying "please tell me this is going out live. Please tell me this is f***ing going out live."

Swarbrick today said she was pushed "two or three" times by Heneti during a "mini explosion" at the debate.


She said she got off the stage when Heneti started yelling at Hay to get between them and try and calm everyone down. That was when she was unexpectedly pushed aside by Heneti.

"I wasn't going to respond physically," said Swarbrick, saying it was an unprecedented heated moment and had no intention of laying a complaint.

"There wasn't any punches or any real physicality thrown around. It was more just loud," Swarbrick said.

In fact, she was more annoyed at Holland for turning up at the debate with a brown painted face, which fundamentally she had issues with.

Writing on her mayoral page, Heneti described the fracas as a "slight incident" and went on to described Hay as "rude, unscrupulous, immoral and unethical".

As one stage, she said, David Hay though it was funny and "began dancing a wriggling his bottom dance jig".

"David Hay, the quitter and the sellout to Phil Goff had the gall to walk in, the last 30 seconds of our debate last night and expected to be treated just like the other seven of us MAYORALTY candidates.

"He just publicly quit during the day and was not an actual Mayoral candidate anymore , yet he expected to speak as one of us still. Patrick(Brown), myself, Penny(Bright), Susanna(Kruger), Chloe(Swarbrick), Adam, Tricia(Cheel) all had arrived on time, answered all the students questions and we're just finishing up when he walked in, and the organisers blithely handed him the microphone.

"Hang on here, if it was good enough for all seven of us be on time, be courteous and be respectful in doing the debate correctly as the organisers led us, why should he be allowed to just walk in and get to talk.

"He didn't deserve it. By his own public published agreed admission he was no longer running for Mayor, so what the hell was he now doing trying to talk in our debate. I strongly objected, Adam added his verbal objection, Chloe tried to take the microphone off me and tried to stop me from conscientiously objecting, I told her to step aside.

"David Hay thought it was funny and began dancing a wriggling his bottom dance jig, and suddenly our microphones were switched off, " Heneti said

Hay said he tried to explain he had not formally 'withdrawn' from the mayoral race by urging support for Phil Goff and how Auckland's "inadequate voting system" had influenced his decision but it only inflamed the drama.

Hay described the event at the student's Shadows Bar as "political theatre" and the most interesting thing to happen on the campaign so far.

Holland, who was wearing an Arabic kaftan, said he had had a few drinks and thought it was a bit of a laugh so he joined in.

"The debate had finished. It was very informal. I just grabbed the microphone and shouted 'vote for me, vote for me'," said the Auckland Legalise Cannabis candidate.

Other candidates attending the debate included Penny Bright and Chloe Swarbrick, who tried to broker a peace.

AUSA president Will Matthews felt disappointed in the behaviour of some of those present.

The point of the debate had been about democracy and having the audience engage with all of the mayoral candidates, not just the main four, he said.

"It was going really well until one of the candidates took offence at the presence of another one.

"Up until that point it had been a really informative and entertaining debate."

Matthews said he was 'shell shocked' by the turn the night took, calling it a "strange situation".

"It was entirely unexpected and outside of the behaviour we would expect from people who want to be mayor."

- NZ Herald

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