John Tamihere is standing for the Auckland mayoralty with former National Minister and Auckland councillor Chris Fletcher as his running mate and deputy designate.
The Waipareira Trust chief executive and former Labour MP is announcing five campaign pledges today to shake up council but holding back his big plans for the city.
Tamihere and Fletcher have thrown down the gauntlet to Mayor Phil Goff, who has said three years is a very short space of time to change a city and looks set to announce, any week now, that he is seeking a second term.
John Palino - a two-time candidate - has formally announced his candidacy. National MP for Tāmaki Simon O'Connor briefly flirted with standing, but decided against the idea. Brothel owner John Chow has shown interest in a tilt for the mayoral chains.
Former MP and political opponent Tau Henare told Simon Wilson in a feature in today's Weekend Herald that Goff was too much of a politician who doesn't do anything.
"Tamihere would let loose the dogs of war. And whatever was left over, he'd work with," said Henare, a member of the Independent Māori Statutory Board, which promotes issues for Māori to council.
Tamihere, a high-profile - and often controversial - figure set himself up to challenge Goff out of a relationship meltdown with the council's development agency, Panuku, over the level of social housing in developments planned by Waipareira Trust.
It was the battle with Panuku, Tamihere said, that led to a large number of people contacting him with stories that made it clear the council has lost control over unelected and unaccountable bodies.
"It's time to shake it up," said Tamihere, who has come up with five pledges focused on changing the culture and values of council that form the foundation of his campaign.
They include opening the books; greater powers to Local Boards and communities; making council-controlled organisations (CCOs) more accountable and putting councillors on the boards; setting up an integrity unit to investigate corruption, unacceptable conduct, and incompetence; and a proper partnership with central government.
"The pledges will hit the mark with all citizens." he said.
The legislation that set up the Super City in 2010 prohibits councillors and Local Board members sitting on the boards of CCOs, although an exception is made for two elected representatives on Auckland Transport.
Tamihere said the 2009 legislation needs a major reset, saying he will have a mandate and leverage to change the law to appoint councillors to the boards of CCOs.
Apart from being clear about ending homelessness, Tamihere said policies on rates, transport and other plans for the city will be announced over the coming months.
The local body elections are on October 12.
Tamihere said Fletcher's wealth of experience in national and local politics - a National MP for nine years, mayor of the former Auckland City Council and Auckland councillor since 2010 - brought a huge amount of integrity and mana.
Fletcher said she had not always been great mates with Tamihere, but had become more and more impressed watching him on the Māori Statutory Board.
She said former Auckland City Council councillor David Hay used to say you had to have a bit of mongrel to get things done.
"With John you have got an interesting mix of charisma, intelligence and experience. I think he will be a great negotiator because he has that extra dimension and utter determination and grit to get things through," Fletcher said.
Goff said the election was a contest of ideas and anyone could put their hand up to run.
Asked if he thought Tamihere would give him a run for his money if he decides to seek another term, Goff said Aucklanders would vote for the person they think has the best vision for the city, integrity and passion and, most importantly, the track record to make it a reality.
Who is John Tamihere?
A lawyer by training, he led Waipareira Trust, based in West Auckland, from 1994.
He served as a Labour MP from 1999 with a role as a Cabinet minister after the 2002 election.
He lost his seat in 2005 after inflammatory comments he made about colleagues, then unsuccessfully challenged Sir Bob Harvey for the Waitākere mayoralty in 2007 before controversy as a talkback host.
In recent years, Tamihere's focus has been in developing Waipareira Trust and as chief executive of Te Pou Matakana, the North Island Whānau Ora commissioning agency.