Los Angeles mayor is here for a three-way summit meeting - and keen to try some sauvignon blanc, he tells Anne Gibson.

Even before boarding, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had already picked out one film to watch on his 13-hour Air New Zealand flight to Auckland.

The Revenant, which took the best leading actor Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio, is top of his list.

"Then I might sleep a bit," says the mayor, who is sorry his wife Amy Elaine Wakeland can't come on the trip. "Most people don't like long flights but I'm looking forward to it."

The former Rhodes Scholar, who is also a lieutenant in the US Navy Reserve, is looking forward to his first proper visit to New Zealand.


"I've been just at the airport," he says. "I was coming from Australia and going back up to LA and I think it was 2005. So that doesn't count. My sister was an exchange student in Te Awamutu and still keeps up with her Kiwi host family."

Garcetti touches down in Auckland today and leaves on Tuesday, visiting specifically for the two-day Tripartite Economic Alliance meeting between Auckland, Guangzhou and Los Angeles.

Auckland is hosting the annual summit for the first time and about 600 people will be at the Viaduct Events Centre on Monday and Tuesday: trade and business experts and global business leaders from a wide range of sectors.

Garcetti likes Air New Zealand: "I used to fly them to London," says the politician who studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and at the London School of Economics.

Speaking from LA this week, the city's 42nd mayor, who took the job in 2013, said he was very much looking forward to seeing Auckland, staying in a waterfront hotel and was about to step into a meeting to plan activities outside the two-day summit.

"We hope to do a bit of hiking and visiting a vineyard and going to Waiheke Island. I have many recommendations from my Kiwi friends."

As for which vineyard he will visit, Garcetti is keen on anything that produces our famous sauvignon blanc.

The LA delegation will bring 23 people, including officials from the city's port, airport, the Mayor's office, and trade and business specialists.

The agreement between the three cities, signed in November 2014, aims to create jobs and enhance trade, investment and economic opportunities, based on the themes of innovation and technology.

We're doing a lot of light rail in LA and mayor [Len] Brown is interested in that in Auckland. We're both transforming our waterfronts too.


Li Xiaolin, president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and the Guangzhou vice-president Wang Dong are also attending, as are New Zealand Government ministers.

Garcetti says the tourism, entertainment and trade sectors are ones where he sees the biggest potential for links between Auckland and Los Angeles.

He names light rail and waterfront transformation as areas where LA and Auckland could benefit from each other's experiences and help one another.

"We're doing a lot of light rail in LA and Mayor [Len] Brown is interested in that in Auckland. We're both transforming our waterfronts too."

Garcetti reckons he could be a trailblazer. "I'm probably the first sitting LA mayor to visit our sister city in Auckland," says the Democratic Party member, who is based in Getty House, the LA mayoral residence.

Garcetti makes no secret of his political affiliations: he christened the Los Angeles headquarters of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, where he praised the former Secretary of State and lashed out at the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

"Hillary Clinton loves California. And California loves Hillary Clinton," he said at the event.

"We know a thing or two about building in this city and that's what this country needs. We don't need somebody who's going to talk about building walls, we need somebody who's going to help us build bridges, and help us build buildings, and help us build roads, and help us build our transit networks. That's what these labourers, these working men and women, know something about. That's what Hillary Clinton knows something about."

This week he expressed strong support for Clinton and vehement distaste for Trump.

"It's potentially quite dangerous," he says of Trump's aspirations.

"We have seen things come out of his mouth that don't represent the values of my country or this city."

Garcetti runs a city of 4 million people, part of a bigger metropolitan area of 22 million, and despite the disparity in size, he sees big similarities between Los Angeles and Auckland.

"We're both Pacific cities, we're both cultural hubs, we're both entertainment cities. We see more tourism, trade and entertainment links coming from LA to Auckland and vice versa."

He cites big American companies Aecom and Gensler working with large Auckland-based businesses Fletcher Construction and Jasmax as an example of alliances which could go much further.

Auckland animation firm Flux Animation Studio is one company benefiting from the tripartite alliance, he says, because partly as a result of the agreement, it had met with people from Universal Studios.

Flux is now doing a Netflix feature film for Universal, although it is better known here for television ads such as the Valspar Paint chameleons.

The man whose patch as an LA councillor included Hollywood reckons the huge film and entertainment sector could be a major area of co-operation and he's familiar with Avondale's success.

Lights, cameras, action? Watch that space.

Eric Garcetti

• Age: 45

• Married, one young child

• Has a BA in politics and urban planning

• Studied at Oxford and London School of Economics

• University of Southern California ex-lecturer

• Former LA council representative

• Took office July 1, 2013

• Lieutenant, US Navy Reserve

• Jazz pianist and photographer