Aucklanders paid more than $5000 for a present given on their behalf to outgoing mayor Len Brown, records show.

Brown left office in October last year, after deciding not to run for a third term as the first Supercity mayor.

His second term in office was plagued by scandal when he admitted three days after the election to a two-year extra-marital affair.

A report into the affair later also found Brown used his council phone to make nearly 1400 personal calls and texts to his mistress, and failed to declare more than $39,000 in free hotel rooms and upgrades.


At his last governing body meeting on September 29 last year Brown was presented with a traditional walking stick, known as a tokotoko.

Outgoing Auckland Mayor Len Brown reflects on his mayoral years, his health and what's next.

In a document released under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings' Act, the council revealed the gift cost $5000 plus GST.

The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union had requested information on any ratepayer-funded gifts when Brown left office. A response to the request was posted on the council's website last month.

In the response, it is stated Brown received the carved tokotoko - presented by independent Maori Statutory Board chairman David Taipari - "on behalf of the citizens of Auckland".

Gift 'appropriate acknowledgement' of Brown's service - council

The Herald on Sunday asked the council's communications' team for comment on the cost of the gift.

In a statement, a spokesperson said the council considered the tokotoko an appropriate acknowledgement of Brown's time in public office, including the "very demanding foundation years" of the SuperCity.

There were no events associated with marking Brown's service, the spokesperson said.

The tokotoko is a symbol of authority and was made by Auckland-based master carver Wikuki Kingi. It was bought from Pou Kapua Creations.

Former Auckland mayor Len Brown, second left, pictured with the tokotoko last year. Also pictured are outgoing councillors, from left, George Wood, Arthur Anae and Cameron Brewer. Photo / Facebook
Former Auckland mayor Len Brown, second left, pictured with the tokotoko last year. Also pictured are outgoing councillors, from left, George Wood, Arthur Anae and Cameron Brewer. Photo / Facebook

In a video posted on the Brown's Facebook account at the time he was given the tokotoko, it is described as being made by cutting, laminating and splicing 192 individual pieces of wood, which were sourced from around the world and included totara and English oak.

Greenstone from the South Island was inlaid into the tokotoko to represent the constellations of Matariki and Rehua, and the object's carved patterns were a combination of tribal designs unique to Mana Whenua and Tamaki Makarau.

Brown told the Herald on Sunday he was "hugely honoured" to receive the tokotoko, but did not want to comment further.

"That is ... life. I'm just really proud to receive it. It's a beautiful piece of art."

Brown also received a pohutukawa tree from the Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) legacy seedling collection, given to him by then deputy mayor Penny Hulse on behalf of councillors.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development gave Brown a framed image montage, presented after his term ended, according to the LGOIMA response.

The montage was "created utilising internal resources and did not incur any external design costs". The cost of printing, framing, mounting and delivery totalled $158.

Other outgoing mayors also received parting gifts from ratepayers last year.

Retiring Wellington mayor Celia Wade Brown received a park bench, after her request for a gecko tattoo was deemed too unconventional by Wellington City Council.

'Life a lot more normal' since mayoralty - Brown

Meanwhile, Brown said he was "enjoying life a lot more normal" since his mayoral term ended.

"[I'm] doing a lot of gardening. Doing a bit of planting. Mostly relaxed and just enjoying life a bit out of the fast lane."

His successor, Phil Goff, had not been in touch and nor would he expect him to be.

And he had no plans to pick up the phone to the mayoral office.

"I wouldn't try and contact him. And I think it's important for him to just get on with his job. [Former Manukau City mayor] Sir Barry Curtis did the same for me.

"Basically when you're the mayor it's a position of direct leadership and you've just got to get on with it. You don't want any of the old mayors hanging around giving you the benefit of their views."