Activist Penny Bright turned "sixty 'bloody' four" in Auckland Hospital today on the last of six days doctors gave her to live.

"I am alive, yippee," the pale-faced patient told the Herald from her hospital bed.

Bright was rushed to hospital six days ago with a life-threatening diabetic condition on top of stage three ovarian cancer diagnosed at the height of a battle to save her house from being sold for refusing to pay rates for 11 years.

New Zealand is a corrupt, polluted tax haven and a banana republic without the bananas.

"The stress went straight to my stomach and I found out I had ovarian cancer" is how Bright describes the two battles that have consumed her this year.


Penny Bloody Bright and the words she wants on her gravestone

Doctors gave Bright between one and six days to live last Friday, but into the last of the six days it's "carry on soldier" for the hard-boiled activist and former sheet-metal welder who has been dragged from council meetings, arrested more than 40 times and who has harangued mayors, bureaucrats, police and the judiciary.

"The great news is I am stable and my little mantra has gone from I want to live to I am going to live.

"I've still got too much trouble to make, theoretically I should never die."

To prove it, Bright fired off a Privacy Act request yesterday to Auckland Council to establish how much money was spent pursuing her in her rates dispute. The request was made under urgency "because I could die any time soon".

"The great news is I am stable and my little mantra has gone from I want to live to I am going to live," says Penny Bright from her bed in Auckland Hospital where she is battling cancer. Photo / Dean Purcell

Bright celebrated her birthday "having a wild party, not" in a single room at the public hospital with her partner of 13 years, Julian, an "incredible caregiver" who shuns the spotlight. Her two sisters and other family members have visited and she has a brother in Australia.

For more than 20 years, Bright has been at the forefront to stop neo-liberal economics infiltrating Auckland local government.

I've still got too much trouble to make, theoretically I should never die.

She shot to prominence through the Water Pressure Group, set up to oppose the user-pays model for water introduced by the former Auckland City Council in the late 1990s.


As a member of the WPG's "turn-on squad" she made illegal connections for protesters whose water was cut off and posted a YouTube video on how to reconnect water.

Since then Bright has stood for the mayoralty and Parliament on several occasions, mounted dozens of protests - earlier this year she spent five days sitting in a tree and occupying a digger on Quay St to save trees being removed for a cycleway - and sought speaking rights at hundreds of council meetings.

Speaking to the NZ Herald from her hospital bed, Penny Bright spoke last month about fighting against corruption.

"People think I've got this boundless energy. No, I'm extremely focused, like a heat-seeking missile," she said at her last bid for the mayoralty in 2016.

In one famous incident, Bright was one of several protesters evicted and dragged by security guards from a council meeting at the Auckland Town Hall in 2002 on the instructions of Auckland City Mayor John Banks.

The self-proclaimed "anti-corruption whistleblower" stopped paying rates on her house in 2007.

At the start of this year Auckland Council began enforcement action as a last resort and the house was listed for sale to recoup tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid rates and penalties.

Speaking from her hospital bed, Penny Bright comments to the NZ Herald on the 'persecution' she has faced from the Auckland Council regarding unpaid rates.

Bright settled her case with council in May after seeking a rates postponement application at the 11th hour after offers closed on the Kingsland property she purchased in 1990.

If Bright's many battles could be summed up into one key issue, it would be a quest for full transparency of council spending on private-sector consultants and contractors through the Public Records Act.

"The Public Records Act has been the law since 2005. It is now 2018 and if the Act was implemented and enforced in a proper way it would transform transparency in this country," she said.

In July last year at an anti-corruption conference at the Hague in the Netherlands, Bright said she put up her hand at a workshop and said New Zealand is perceived to be the least corrupt country in the world but in her opinion "New Zealand is a corrupt, polluted tax haven and a banana republic without the bananas."

Bright has opposed the Super City since day one, saying it has proven to be a" massive gravy train for the 1 per cent high end of town".

"The Auckland Super City has been an absolute disaster. There is very little local in local government in Auckland. It has been about the setting up of a mechanism to run the Auckland region like a business by business for business," she said.

Penny Bright has crossed swords with every Auckland Mayor of the past 20 years. Here are her thoughts on some of those leaders:

Speaking from her hospital bed, Penny Bright comments on her past relationships with various Auckland Mayors.

John Banks(Auckland City Mayor 2001-2004, 2007-2010)

"To be fair to John Banks I think people who have some kind of sporting background have a concept of fair play and he acknowledged that at least I was prepared to stand and have a go. I don't hate anybody. It is all about the behaviour and it is the actions of John Banks I don't agree with."

Len Brown (Auckland Mayor 2010-2016)

"The thing about Len Brown; it wasn't had he committed a sin? It was, had he committed a crime? I believe he had from the taking of undisclosed freebies from SkyCity (Brown admitted receiving free hotel rooms in a review of an affair during his mayoralty)".

Dick Hubbard (Auckland City Mayor 2004-2007)

"The People's Mayor who had me thrown out of the Town Hall seven times because he didn't want to hear what I had to say."

Phil Goff(Auckland Mayor 2016-present)

"I first met Phil Goff in 1985 when he was the Minister of Housing in the Rogernomics Labour Government. In my view he is acting in a very arrogant and contemptuous way. It's Mayor Phil Goff, not Monarch Phil Goff. I'm not impressed with Phil Goff, and that's the nice version."