At last year's Pacific Music Awards, a year on from his heart attack o' />

He is the mayor who marches up to Pacific Island youths and says "Waddup?"

At last year's Pacific Music Awards, a year on from his heart attack on stage, he unleashed a rap which, viewed on YouTube, is cringe-inducing. Between whoops and hand claps, he yells:

My name is Brown,
you're in my town,
this place is jumping,
my heart is pumping.

But Alf Filipaina, a city councillor and former policeman, says audience reaction at the TelstraClear Events Centre was "hugely positive. People loved it."

Depending on the audience, Brown can be the Southside Kid, the wise counsel, or a dry politician with an eye on the bottom line. He is prone to spontaneous bursts of enthusiasm which can raise eyebrows.

He is the Singing Mayor of Manukau with a fondness for John Denver songs and showtunes Edelweiss or Fiddler on the Roof. His waiata are equally corny: Whakaaria Mai (How Great Thou Art) and Pokarekare Ana.

His detractors see a politician trying to be different things to different people, too eager to please. The thing is, he gets away with it, say supporters.

Otara councillor Efu Koka says Brown will play up to young people if they are around.

"They enjoy it. Some people would like him to be more of a statesman but that's not Len. He gets away with it because he's the real deal. "

Youth worker Alan Va'a says Brown is able to engage young people, talking their language without patronising them. "No matter what colour you are, he's down with the kids. The thing I love about Len is he's colour-blind."

On a visit to Stevenson's in East Tamaki, Brown draws reticent factory floor workers into long conversations.

"He hasn't learnt the grin-and-go," says his clock-watching minder. The same day he charms an audience of suits in the city (clients of boutique recruitment firm Madison) with his stump speech about his vision for Auckland, and his passion.

Brown has helped bring a long-planned skateboarding park in Otara to completion.

"He was one of the few people who stayed committed to the vision of having a quality facility for young people designed by young people," says Jayson Mokotupu, guardian of the park. Users named the park in Brown's honour.