Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Len Brown delivers farewell speech: 'This city is now prepared for change'

Brown is stepping down after two terms as the first Mayor of the Super City. Photo / Dean Purcell
Brown is stepping down after two terms as the first Mayor of the Super City. Photo / Dean Purcell

Len Brown spoke about his family surviving a near death experience and a near death political experience in a valedictory speech today.

A clearly emotional Brown, the first mayor of the Super City, said his family had survived, remained strong for it and moved on.

He was referring to a heart attack on stage during the Pacific Music Award when he was Mayor of Manukau in 2008 and what his loyal deputy, Penny Hulse, referred to as the "the other thing" in her own tribute to the mayor at today's last meeting of the governing body this term.

The other thing being the salacious sex scandal that hit the headlines in the days after Brown's 2013 re-election and which dragged on for months.

Brown's wife Shan Inglis and their three children were not present to hear his farewell speech at the Auckland Town Hall.

I feel bullish and great about this city
Len Brown

Instead, Brown was embraced by colleagues, council staff and members of the Maori Statutory Board who gave him a carved tokotoko, or ceremonial walking stick, as a symbol of authority and status for the speaker holding it.

Councillors presented Brown with a small pohutukawa tree, grown from a seedling collection from the base of the fallen pine on Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) in 2000. It will be a reminder of one of Brown's favourite spots when he moves into a new family home in Karaka shortly.

Responding to Brown's speech, Hulse said "history should record that you have done an extraordinary job. It should remember you kindly and also focus on your achievements".

"It should forgive you your gaffes, your dancing and the other thing."

Even Cameron Brewer, a staunch critic of Brown for six years, was generous in his praise for the mayor in his valedictory speech.

"Thank you for all you have secured Auckland. . . . This month I was very pleased to support the City Rail Link because you not only got the National Government finally on board, you got them well on board," Brewer said.

Brown said he started the mayoral job six years ago full of love for the city, full of hope and expectation and wanted to be remembered as someone who gave his best.

"I can report to you that by and large a good part of that hope of what we expected of the first years of this amalgamation has been delivered and my sense of expectation for the city has been strengthened."

"I feel bullish and great about this city and for the last six years I have no regrets about any of the political decisions we have made. Every single one I am proud of and would stand by."

Councillors Arthur Anae and George Wood focused on social issues in their valedictory speeches.

"Auckland and New Zealand is losing its social heart," said Anae, a two-term Auckland councillor and former National MP.

Anae said somebody had to take stock of social issues when people were sleeping in cars, going to work and unable to afford a house. The only way to help these people was to increase the accommodation supplement, he said.

Wood, a two-term North Shore councillor and former policeman, spoke about his passion for the Southern Initiative to bring together the council and government agencies to work together on social issues in South Auckland.

Wood said when he started as a policeman in 1966 there were about 300 inmates in Auckland. Today, there were thousands, "and it is an indictment on the social fabric of Auckland and New Zealand".

Brewer's focus was on financial issues - "remember the $10.5m staff travel bill for the first two years" - his beloved Orakei ward and greater transparency.

"When it becomes harder for some media, organisations, and councillors to get information than other media, organisations and councillors, then a public organisation has become too political. I am hoping with a fresh mandate next month that this organisation becomes much less defensive, more trusting, and open to all."

- NZ Herald

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