Luigi Wewege has left New Zealand.

One of the key players in the Len Brown sex scandal was seen leaving an Air New Zealand plane in San Francisco yesterday morning after an 11-hour flight.

The NZ8 flight had left Auckland at 7.30pm on Thursday and Mr Wewege travelled alone in economy class, casually dressed in shorts and a cap, according to another passenger.

His final destination is unknown but one source believed he was heading to Florida.


The 28-year-old has kept out of sight since the Herald revealed Mr Wewege, a political adviser to mayoral candidate John Palino, was in a casual relationship with Mayor Len Brown's mistress, Bevan Chuang, and persistently asked her to go public with the affair during the election to damage the mayor's reputation.

Mr Wewege has not been living at his Parnell flat and did not return emails, phone calls and messages this week. However, he has been interviewed by the Herald on Sunday, which broke a number of stories related to the John Palino mayoralty campaign, including the announcement of his candidacy and that right-wing councillor Cameron Brewer would be his deputy.

Describing the days before the WhaleOil publication, as the campaign team discussed the implications of the breaking story, he said; "I was very politically naive. There was talk of a byelection or something. There was all types of stuff swirling around.

"I even heard that John would become mayor."

Mr Palino has denied any knowledge of Ms Chuang's affair with Mayor Brown but admitted meeting her in a Mission Bay carpark two days before the affair became public.

The losing mayoral candidate has denied he was part of a plan to force the mayor to resign, and said that he met Ms Chuang only to discuss threatening text messages they had both received in the lead-up to the election.

He has remained on holiday in Melbourne and is expected to return to New Zealand next week.

Mr Wewege, a South African of Italian heritage, flatly denied to the Herald any close ties to Ms Chuang but messages between the pair indicated they were in a sexual relationship - and Mr Wewege wanted her to gather evidence of the Brown affair, including giving her a recording device.

"I can't get anything from Len. Text, phone call, nothing. So please stop asking and giving me pressure," Ms Chuang wrote on August 28.

The pair exchanged a few more messages before Mr Wewege wrote: "I literally work 24/7 and something small you know you can do to change my life and you won't do it ... is just a (shred) of evidence and I promise you are fully protected."

Another sent by Ms Chuang said Mr Wewege wanted a "Weiner story", a reference to how Anthony Weiner's hopes of winning the New York mayoralty were crippled by his "sexting".

Mr Wewege came to New Zealand in 2011 and quickly became a regular in Auckland political circles and held high hopes of a future in the National Party. He was described as an affable, charming networker who was photographed with a number of important politicians, but the National Party has distanced itself from him.

• Exclusive in tomorrow's Herald on Sunday: Interview with Luigi Wewege.