John Banks is turning his attention to social policy in his bid to be the first mayor of the Auckland Super City.

He told a Weekend Herald special report he was committed to spending a lot of time in the first term of the Super City bringing together strategies to "fill the quite deep faultline of deprivation" across Auckland.

"The bottom line is this: unless we are prepared to engage with the very serious social problems and pockets of deprivation across Auckland, then don't be surprised if some of these people come through your washhouse window.

"Once upon a time I was happy to see more and more criminals put behind bars. Today I clearly understand that the way we're going to empty out jails is reaching out with education - we need more schools, not jails," said Mr Banks, whose father, Archie, was a career criminal. "I often refer to Mt Eden [Prison] as my ancestral home."

The two-term Auckland City Mayor and former Cabinet minister, who is promoting his softer side in his race against Manukau's Len Brown and other mayoral contenders, has spent much of his political career making outbursts against the social agendas of opponents.

The "transmogrified" John Banks was elected to a second term on a platform of "affordable progress" , saying last year social policy would be a clear point of difference between "camp Brown and camp Banksie".

City Vision leader and former Labour MP Richard Northey said Mr Banks' comments were pure hypocrisy. "I think his focus groups must tell him that these things are important and so he just says things."

The mayor's track record did not walk the talk, Mr Northey said. In his first term as mayor, he not only sold the council's stock of pensioner housing, but housing in Freemans Bay used by the mentally ill. "Now, they're found under bridges in Ranui."

He said that in the second term, Mr Banks had taken the council out of the Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs, which meant canning two employment projects for the at-risk.