Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Festival to Brown: stay away

Mayor's office says he'll attend military tattoo anyway, despite warnings he may attract protests.

Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Greg Bowker
Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Greg Bowker

Embattled Auckland Mayor Len Brown has been told to stay away from a community military event this weekend for fear he will attract protesters and take the shine off the promotion.

It follows booing when the mayor opened the NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park on Saturday and comes ahead of a planned march up Queen St calling on him to stand down.

The terse reaction following him at many public appearances seems to be a response to last year's revelations of Mr Brown's affair with council adviser Bevan Chuang, hotel stays and censure by councillors.

The Howick Military Tattoo at Lloyd Elsmore Park on Sunday, which includes Scottish games and military re-enactments, attracts up to 10,000 people and Mr Brown has attended the event for years.

The president of the tattoo is Howick ward councillor Sharon Stewart, an opponent of the mayor who was one of five councillors who voted during a council meeting in December for him to resign. He was censured.

Ms Stewart said a lot of people had told her they did not want the mayor to attend.

But she said she could not stop him attending the free public event.

The mayor's office said Mr Brown would be going along, although he would not have a formal role. He opened the tattoo in 2012.

"The mayor and his family have attended this event for as long as he can remember. It would be disappointing if an attempt was made to politicise this," said Mr Brown's head of communications, Dan Lambert.

His attendance at the tattoo does not feature in his weekly diary of public engagements sent to the media.

This year, the organisers have invited Auckland councillor and Olympian Sir John Walker to open the tattoo.

Ms Stewart said people did not want protesters turning up and booing the mayor.

Sharon Stewart.
Sharon Stewart.

"This is a community event; a lot of children attend. It is not a day about one man," said Ms Stewart, who was asked by the mayor's office to explain her position and responded it would be best for Mr Brown to stay away.

At Mr Brown's first public appearance last month, the opening of the new $17 million Panmure Transport Interchange, a handful of protesters turned up, some carrying banners with messages referring to his two-year-affair. Questions were also raised about the level of security shadowing the mayor.

Opponents of Mr Brown are coming together on Saturday for the "Len Brown - Stand Down" march up Queen St organised by Stephen Berry, who stood for the Auckland mayoralty last year under the right-wing Affordable Auckland ticket.

Yesterday, a range of speakers were revealed by Mr Berry, including Affordable Auckland spokesman Will Ryan, former mayoral candidate Penny Bright, David Thornton, founder of the No More Rates and a local board candidate last year, and Makelesi Ngata, spokesperson for the Tamaki Housing Group.

"Whether you oppose big-spending policies or questionable judgment and behaviour," Mr Berry said, "there is a reason for just about everyone to hit the streets and demand Len Brown stands down."

- NZ Herald

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