In 2001, the year John Banks first became mayor of Auckland, anonymous letters were sent to various media organisations claiming he had fathered a child, "his 31-year-old son that he has ignored all his life since he was 3 years old". Herald journalist Phil Taylor investigated at the time.

The mother who claims that her first-born was fathered by John Banks was a young nurse by the name of Pam Shaw. She was living in Hamilton when she became pregnant.

I saw her several times at her Mt Albert home in 2001 and 2002. Her married name is Pam Mayes. Mayes told me that Banks had been a travelling salesman for pharmaceuticals company Pfizer, that they had had a sexual relationship while she was not on the contraceptive pill and that she was not seeing anyone else when she became pregnant.

Mayes claimed that when she learned she was pregnant she told Banks but he did not want to take responsibility. She told her next boyfriend, Harry (surname withheld), the son of Chinese restaurateurs, that she was carrying his child, although she was already pregnant when they first dated.


Mayes and Harry broke up before the baby, Antony Shaw, was born. No father is named on his birth certificate.

Mayes let everyone believe that Harry was Antony's father, right up until 1999.

Two events that year changed everything, she told me. Antony had a child of his own, Kent, and she heard Banks breakdown during his valedictory speech to Parliament while speaking of the pain of not having a relationship with his own father.

"No one knows better than I the crushing heartache of living with no mother and no father," Banks said in his speech.

Mayes decided to tell her son who his real father is, and to tell Banks that he was a grandfather and ask him to acknowledge Antony. "I thought if he can be that upset at this stage of his life about not knowing his own father, I'm going to ask him to do something about Antony."

Mayes told me that she met Banks at least twice - in a restaurant in Wellington and at a cafe at St Lukes shopping centre. She had also written to him about her plan to tell her family about her belief that Banks was Antony's father.

Banks did not want her to tell, Mayes said, but he did not rule out seeing Antony.

I rang Antony in February 2002. He was living in Japan where he taught English. He told me of his unsuccessful attempts (at a radio station where Banks hosted his Breakfast With Banksie show, and twice at his home) to talk to Banks during a visit to Auckland in April 2000.


He had spoken to Banks' wife, Amanda, at the gate of their home but said Banks wouldn't see him.

While he could apply to the High Court for a declaration (which he has done this month - 15 years later) Antony didn't want to as he still hoped that Banks would see him and planned to try again when he next came to New Zealand.

"I had always accepted what my mother told me, that Harry was my father, but I never felt Chinese and I don't have Chinese features," Antony said.

"But if you line up John Bank's photograph alongside mine, there is an unbelievable likeness."

I spoke to Harry (surname withheld) in February 2002. "It is terribly unfortunate, more for the boy than for me," Harry said.

Harry had always suspected that Antony was not his child but had not mentioned his doubts when he had met Antony a decade earlier when Antony was about 20.


"The last thing I wanted to bring up when I last saw the boy," said Harry, "was 'I'm not your father'."

I spoke to Bernard Shaw, an uncle Antony was close to. Bernard told me he had many conversations with Banks about it. The former police minister and Auckland mayor had said, claimed Bernard, that he couldn't swear he wasn't the father because he did have a sexual relationship with her.

John Banks. Photo / Brett Phibbs
John Banks. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Antony Shaw. Photo / Supplied
Antony Shaw. Photo / Supplied

The first time I asked Banks about it was in November 2001.

Taylor: There is a Pam Shaw who claims she had your child. Do you know anything about this?

Banks: No. Pam Shaw, is she someone who has written to you? Has she written to you?

Taylor: No she hasn't written to me, I've spoken to her. She is Pam Mayes now.


Banks: Oh, Pam Mayes.

Taylor: Used to be Pam Shaw.

Banks: Yeah.

Taylor: Do you know anything about this?

Banks: No.

Taylor: Nothing at all?


Banks: No.

Taylor: You sure?

Banks: Well don't ask me questions. I mean if I want to make a comment about these things, I will.

Taylor: OK. I am hearing what she says, that [she's ] had this child ...

Banks: Be very, look, can I talk to you off the record for a sec?

Taylor: Well.


Banks: No?

Taylor: Don't bad-mouth her off the record.

Banks: I'm not, I'm not.

Taylor: Normally yes, it's just that off-the-record can compromise the journalist.

Banks: No no no. I want to give some good advice. Seek some very very clear legal advice. That's all I am saying to you. Be very very careful.

Taylor: We wouldn't just go and publish - that's why I am coming to you.


Banks: For heaven's sake just be very very careful.

Taylor: Can I ask you, is it wrong what she is saying?

Banks: No no no. I just want to say to you ... just be very very careful. Seek some highly-focused, highly-placed legal advice. That's all I want to say. Thanks for your time.