Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Len Brown sworn in as Auckland Mayor

Len Brown has been sworn in as Mayor of Auckland with wife Shan Inglis at his side this evening.

Ms Inglis was present at the inaugural meeting of the Auckland Council in the Auckland Town Hall - the first time she has been seen alongside her husband since Mr Brown's extra-marital affair became public.

The mayor's wife was seated in the town hall for the formal two-hour occasion that includes a Maori welcome and performances by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Auckland Choral. The couple's eldest daughter, Sam, was also present.

Mr Brown, who won a second term as Mayor of Auckland on October 12, made no reference in prepared speech notes about his two-year affair with Bevan Chuang, a member of the council's Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel.

Ever since a detailed account of the affair was made public on October 15 by the right-wing Whaleoil blog, Mr Brown has sought to make amends with his wife and children, and with Aucklanders.

He pledged to stay on as mayor and tonight he sets out to move forward from the vision to the building blocks of creating the world's most liveable city.

"Big improvements are on the way. We are fundamentally changing the built environment and the way we use our transport,'' he said.

He said the discussion around the $2.86 billion city rail link had moved from "why?'' to "when?'' and talked about the need to get more people in trains and buses and ferries, at a time when patronage is slipping.

Mr Brown reiterated the compact city model - the basis for the Auckland Plan and new planning rulebook, or Unitary Plan - "that makes that possible''.

On housing , he saw the need to give people more choices and making those choices more affordable.

Mr Brown said the council would continue to borrow "prudently'' to help pay for sound and responsible planning and addressed growing public disquiet at big executive salaries by proposing a remuneration policy this term to provide greater transparency and accountability around senior pay.

"Auckland is growing. And so we must continue to invest in our city's infrastructure - physical and intellectual.

"But there is one more aspect that matters just as much, and that is the spirit of this city.

"Let's be excited by the fact that Lonely Planet rated Auckland today as one of the top 10 cities in the world, but let's recognise that there's still so much more we can do,'' Mr Brown said in speech notes.

Auckland City mayor Len Brown during the Council's inaugural meeting at the Auckland Town hall this evening. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Auckland City mayor Len Brown during the Council's inaugural meeting at the Auckland Town hall this evening. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Meanwhile, North Shore councillor George Wood is the big winner in a new committee structure being announced by Mr Brown tomorrow.

Mr Wood - a right-wing critic of Mr Brown in the first term of the Super City - will chair the new regional strategy and policy committee, one of only four committees of the whole council.

Mr Brown will chair one of the other three big committees, the long term and annual plan committee.

The other two plum jobs go to deputy mayor Penny Hulse, who will chair the urban and rural development committee, and Penny Webster, who will chair the finance and organisational performance committee.

Mr Brown, who as mayor is responsible for the budget, will take on greater financial oversight at committee level.

Mrs Webster, who previously had a wider financial role as chairwoman of the strategy and finance committee, will now oversee financial matters outside the budget.

Mr Brown, who is responsible for the committee structure and appointments, has abolished the transport committee and replaced it with a physical infrastructure committee to oversee the strategic direction of key projects of Auckland Transport, Watercare and the council's stormwater department.

Mike Lee, who chaired the transport committee, will chair this new committee.

Councillor Cameron Brewer, the most vocal right-wing opponent of Mr Brown who has not met the mayor since his well-publicised affair made headlines two weeks ago, is the only councillor with no role in the new set-up.

Mr Brown announced today that Waitakere councillor Penny Hulse would be his deputy for a second term of the Auckland Council.

He said she showed remarkable and positive leadership in the first term and was delighted that she had agreed to continue in the role.

"Penny Hulse led some of the most important aspects of our work programme in the first three years of Auckland Council. She was an impressive chair of the Auckland Plan Committee and successfully led the challenging Unitary Plan process.

"Penny has extensive political experience as a long-term Waitakere City councillor and deputy mayor, and as a senior member of the first Auckland Council. She is committed to working across the political spectrum to achieve the best for Auckland and its people,'' he said.

Ms Hulse said it was a joy and a privilege to work on behalf of the west and all of Auckland to build a great city.

"My focus for this next term continues to be strengthening the partnerships we have developed with our communities, and bringing the plans for our city to life,'' she said.

Ms Hulse will be paid $141,337 - a 13.8 per cent pay rise approved by the independent Remuneration Authority that sets the salaries of local and central government politicians.

Committee of the whole chairs have received a 17.5 per cent pay rise from $99,400 to $116,762, councillors' pay has risen 9.6 per cent from $90,050 to $98,672 and Mr Brown's salary has risen 1.5 per cent from $247,300 to $251,010.

- APNZ

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