John Tamihere says a lightning bolt has hit voters in the past few weeks and he's poised to be the next mayor of the Super City.
Tamihere is nothing if not blunt and to the point - the opposite of Phil Goff, the considered and grey politician who goes about the job in a workmanlike way.
"I'm telling you mate, there is a huge appetite for change," Tamihere said after wooing Grey Power members, who vote in droves, at the North Harbour Netball Centre last Friday.
WATCH LIVE TONIGHT: AUCKLAND MAYORAL DEBATE - PHIL GOFF V JOHN TAMIHERE LIVE ON NZHERALD.CO.NZ AT 7PM. EMAIL YOUR QUESTIONS FOR THE CANDIDATES TO MAYORALDEBATE@NZME.CO.NZ
Shortly before the meeting, Tamihere released a policy to turn the Auckland Harbour Bridge into a double-decker superstructure and bring forward construction on the Penlink road between Whangaparaoa Peninsula and State Highway 1.
The policy had the twin goals of mining centre-right voters on the North Shore and grabbing oxygen ahead of Goff's campaign launch on Sunday.
It worked. Tamihere won over the oldies and drew a response from Goff, albeit savaging the 18-lane bridge for destroying half of St Marys Bay and Northcote Pt at a cost of $10 billion.
It was the second policy in two weeks to draw criticism that Tamihere is untethered and moving to the end of politics where common sense goes out the window.
The first policy was an 0800 JACINDA hotline to call a social worker to take care of homeless people.
In both cases, Tamihere is proposing policies largely beyond the reach of Auckland Council and more the responsibility of central Government.
Tamihere, however, has no truck for the conventions of government. He is writing his own rules, which involves going to Wellington and banging his fist on the table: "Ask what Goff has delivered from not banging the table? Nothing," he says.
He says the Prime Minister and MP for Mt Albert Jacinda Ardern, Transport Minister and MP for Te Atatu Phil Twyford and Social Development Minister and MP for Kelston Carmel Sepuloni cannot jump on a plane in Auckland and pretend they have no obligations to the city.
"You cannot rule the Treasury benches unless you have Auckland."
He promises to hold Ardern and senior ministers accountable and break what he calls the chokehold of Wellington over Auckland. Asked how he will achieve this, Tamihere says he is not prepared to disclose the methodology before the election.
To Tamihere's way of thinking, the Super City legislation has left Auckland Council in tatters and ratepayers paying 65 per cent for infrastructure projects because the Government claws back 15 per cent in GST from the 50:50 funding model.
Other bugbears? Aucklanders paying GST on rates, Aucklanders are the only New Zealanders paying a regional petrol tax of 11.5 cents a litre, and Aucklanders fund much of Shane Jones' $3b regional "slush fund" but are not allowed a cent of it.
"For goodness' sake, when is Auckland going to get some respite from the central Government balance sheet?" Tamihere says.
The former Labour MP, boss of the Waipareira Trust and talkback host - whose comments about the Roast Busters group of teens who boasted about sexual activities with underage girls landed him in deep trouble - has been on the campaign trail since January 25 with a promise to shake up the halls of power.
Since January, Tamihere has worked what he calls the business end of town and visited the weekend markets, but it has only been in recent weeks he has detected a significant energy to the campaign. Volunteers have come forward. His team erected 326 hoardings in 24 hours.
Tamihere says the biggest issue he receives feedback on, ahead of transport and housing, is the performance of Auckland Council and the need to seize back control from the bureaucrats.
"You say at any meeting 'stop their arrogance' and they just start clapping. It doesn't matter if it's in Mangere, Manurewa, on the Shore or up in Coatesville, it is a recurring theme; the city is out of control, the bureaucrats have control, are arrogant to the people who pay their wages, and it has to stop," he says.
His bid for the mayoralty came out of a meltdown with the council's development agency, Panuku, over the level of social housing in developments planned by the Waipareira Trust on land owned by Panuku.
Tamihere has promised to sack the board of Auckland Transport immediately if he wins the mayoralty. Even if the council stands in his way, it would be untenable for the board to stay on without the confidence of the mayor.
With hoardings going up and campaigning fully underway, Tamihere says he has ditched his negative references to Goff as "Budget Blowout Goff" and begun a positive focus on his own policies and solutions.
So far Tamihere has been silent on a rates policy, but says he is in talks with his campaign team, which includes former National Party president Michelle Boag and legendary left-wing organiser Matt McCarten, about announcing something before September 7.
It will be a "rip snorter", says Tamihere, who refused to rule out zero rates increases in the pre-jousting period with Goff.
"You bring out your big artillery when they are not ready."
Tamihere, aged 60, is super confident of winning on October 12 for several reasons - both he and Goff have negative ratings, but Goff's are much worse; 75,000 soft centre-right voters like Tamihere's running mate Christine Fletcher who voted for Goff in 2016 will switch to the Tamihere-Fletcher camp; and his side of town with social leanings will turn out bigger than ever before.
"I guarantee I will blow your socks off on October 12 when you see the numbers come in ... it won't be close, that's how chipper I am," he says.