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Wayne Brown’s letters

Written By: - Date published: 8:52 am, October 20th, 2022 - 50 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, climate change, Environment, local government, public transport, supercity, transport - Tags:

Wayne Brown (or is that Matthew Hooton) has over the past few days released a series of letters that are astonishing in their audacity.

Any complaint that he is not putting in the hard yards getting up to speed with the job of running the most complex city in the country can be temporarily forgotten.  Not only is he putting in the hard yards but he is also poking various beehives with sticks to see what the response is.

It reminds me a bit of Donald Trump’s first couple of weeks where he released a series of executive orders that had, or were supposed to have, a major effect.  Things like withdrawing from the TPPA, restarting the Keystone Pipeline, or barring international NGOs that perform or promote abortions from receiving US government funding.

Unlike Trump, Wayne Brown has no executive power except in a few areas.  Nor does he have a supportive Council.  Instead he is trying to set the agenda and seeing how far centrists and even the left are prepared to move to his world vision by publishing a series of preemptive publicity strikes.

One of his advisors has links to Crosby Textor.  It shows.

His latest missive attacks Auckland Transport.  And there is a great deal of pro car anti bike rootin tootin in the letter, enough to fill a whole semester of stage one Political Science classes.

Like these nuggets:

I seek a complete change in approach at AT. You appear to have been focussed on changing how Aucklanders live, using transport policy and services as a tool.  Instead, AT must seek to deeply understand how Aucklanders actually live now, how they want to live in the future, and deliver transport services that support those aspirations.

Climate change will force us to change the way we live.  Business as usual will only accelerate what we are seeing now.  Either we adjust now or the environment will force us to change.

AT needs to exercise better judgement, as well as listen to and follow the wishes of local communities. That includes understanding that AT’s decisions impact the lives of people every day.  AT must understand the families who are struggling to move around the region: pick-up their children, do the groceries, get home safely after-dark, and juggle other commitments. You must understand the local businesses who rely on transport connections and their needs now and in the future. And you must recognise that the transport network materially impacts Aucklanders’ safety – especially at night, for women, for young people, the elderly and for shift workers. 

To my mine this is fancy language for maintaining our car centric status quo.

Aucklanders do not always have the choice of using an e-bike, a bus or even a train but rely on the roading and carparking networks to make their life functional.

While this may be the case it ignores the fact that every time someone in Swanson catches a train rather than drive to the city someone in Te Atatu South has a slightly better trip to downtown.  Public transport will not be for everyone but an improved system can suit many of us.

Brown wants AT to support peoples aspirations for transport and how they want to live in the future.  He wants less road cones.  He wants fewer new roads, which is not such a bad idea, but also wants to retain car parking buildings and to Invest in cycle lanes only where the per-kilometre construction cost is on par with costs in other jurisdictions.  He also wants AT to “understand and address the social and economic disruption of road reorganisation, including the cost of eliminating of kerbside town centre parking and vehicle pickup /delivery points”.  No more cycleways is one possible interpretation.

His proposed cost discipline may in one respect not actually be such a bad thing.  I agree with Greater Auckland that some of the recent cycleway projects are over engineered and too costly.  We could do a great deal by completing the network by a series of more discrete projects.

But the problem is that Brown is essentially proposing to do not very much at a time when urgent action is required.  Two months ago Auckland Council endorsed the Transport Emissions Reductions Plan which requires Auckland City to reduce transport emissions by almost two thirds by 2030.  The briefing document noted that under current policy settings emissions would only reduce by 6% by that date.

The proposals to get there are radical including these:

  • “Light vehicle VKT needs to reduce by half, requiring comprehensive alternatives to private car travel. Around half of all car trips are less than 6km in length and around half of all short trips (less than 2.5km) are taken by car.  It is these trips that represent the greatest opportunity for mode shift.
  • A huge increase in the uptake of walking, cycling, micromobility and public transport is required to replace trips no longer taken by car.
  • Cars will still have a place in the system, but they must be more efficient, with a higher proportion of the fleet being zero and low emissions.
  • Trips need to be shorter. This means land use must change so that people can more easily access services and amenities close to where they are.”

This will require considerable reshaping of our city in a very short time.  Brown’s proposal at face value proposes little change.

How this is responded to by Councillors will be interesting.  I expect that this will be put to the test in the near future.

50 comments on “Wayne Brown’s letters ”

  1. I think the first Council meetings will be a fascinating exercise in power dynamics. Would love to be a fly on the wall.

  2. Ghostwhowalksnz 2

    Yes the Mayor has little to no executive power ( same goes for PM -who has to have it endorsed by Cabinet which does have executive powers.)

    Yet the Council agencies are required to follow strategies and direction of Council and Im sure the vote of the full council backing him or not will happen fairly soon.

    Three Waters 'edicts' are just what the previous council had decided at a number of its meetings starting Sept 2021, which was opposition. What works for auckland doesnt mean it should for many other areas as Councils there have fallen well short . Im thinking West Coast, Hastings, Whanganui, Kaipara District ( Mangawhai) and of course Wellington.

    • Incognito 2.1

      You making up BS again angry

      Resolution number GB/2022/51

      MOVED by Mayor P Goff, seconded by Cr L Cooper:

      That the Governing Body:

      a) endorse the development of Auckland Council’s submission on the Water Services Entities Bill consistent with resolutions of the 23 September 2021 Governing Body meeting (Attachment C) and the Mayor’s Minority Report (Attachment D).

      b) delegate to the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Governing Body, and the Watercare Liaison Councillor, the authority to amend and approve the submission, including any amendments that might mitigate the negative impact of the Bill on Auckland.

      c) delegate to the Mayor and Cr Linda Cooper (as the Watercare Liaison Councillor) the authority to speak to the submission on behalf of the Governing Body at the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.

      The motion was declared CARRIED by 15 votes to 5.


      • Ghostwhowalksnz 2.1.1

        Submissions on the legislation like the passed Water Services Bill which are technical details, yes I read it

        'To ensure Water Suppliers are able to successfully manage risk across a number of regulatory frameworks, Watercare believe it is important to utilise tested approaches to duty of care statements and risk management'

        And such like minutitae

        They are still opposed as in the resolution you linked to the Council submission wants The
        latest Water Service ENTITIES legislation not to include Watercare

        3rd paragraph down

        Thanks for proving my point that the Council is opposed to 3 waters entities for Auckland. A resolution to submit on the legislation doesnt mean the Council is in favour of the major entities proposed.

        • Incognito

          A resolution to submit on the legislation doesnt mean the Council is in favour of the major entities proposed.

          non sequitur

          Engaging with the political process is non-negotiable. This requires work (aka effort, time & money). Somebody has to do the work. Brown wants this work to stop and says he has the backing of Council [the previous Council opposed it], pre-empting a vote on this by the full new Council and pre-empting the passing of WSE Bill. In any case, it is nothing major for Watercare and par for the course.

          • Ghostwhowalksnz

            Submissions to the Select Committee for the 3 Waters Entities bill by Auckland council/Watercare done and dusted some time back – the last I think was beginning of September. Which said they wanted Watercare excluded !

            Also a submission included the Local Boards, which I think were ALL opposed to as well . Watercare made its own submission included in that back in JULY

            Check the dates for yourself.


            This is the Council majority stance before the election and Im sure will be confirmed when the new Council meets

            • Incognito

              Going in circles with you. The submission process was neither the beginning, end, nor the only action required, it is merely a step in a long arduous process. And when (!) WSE Bill has been passed there will be even more work required. Who's going to do that if not Watercare? A consultancy firm? Does Wayne Brown have veto rights in NZ Parliament and can he stop WSE Bill?

              You may want to educate yourself if you can get your head of the rabbit hole you seem to be stuck in:


              I’ll leave it to the other readers of this site to form their own opinion instead of listening to your reckons that sound very similar to the BS coming out Brown’s mouth:

              Cooper [Linda Cooper was the councillor liaison with the Council-owned company Watercare] said Brown was simply “playing to an angry crowd” with a letter that would have no impact if the government pressed ahead with amalgamating the country’s local body water operations into four regional bodies.

              “The public doesn’t want this, so he is emboldened,” Cooper told Radio New Zealand on Tuesday morning.

              “But he is not following due process.

              “You’ve actually got to get a majority of councillors voting for a change in statement of intent, then it will go to the [council-controlled organisation].”

              This is about Brown, how he conducts business, and not about Three Waters per se. Get it now?

              • Ghostwhowalksnz

                You dont get it my friend . The Watercare submissions were made months back.

                Unless you have some facts to back up this claim 'its ongoing' , its just waffle. Which is fine if you you want that approach.

                Trying to define the matters under discussion – the Post says Browns Letters- again seems to be because you cant argue the facts

  3. Sanctuary 3

    Three years of an old man shouting at his own people via Hooten and Hosking awaits Auckland.

    But let's be real. Hooten's real aim here is the Labour government. He wants to start an all-out shit show culture war, with the active connivance of NZME, with the aim of making Auckland angry and ungovernable in the hope it polarises the electorate in right's favour.

    Dirty politics Trump style.

    • AB 3.1

      But let's be real. Hooten's real aim here is the Labour government. He wants to start an all-out shit show culture war, with the active connivance of NZME.

      Spot on. Brown's delusional vanity and conceit makes him the perfect vector for infecting the mainstream/bloodstream with Hooten's extremism.

    • Anne 3.2

      Re Hooten:

      yes yes

      He's one of the dirtiest political actors in the country – carefully disguised as 'responsible commentary'.

      • woodart 3.2.1

        hooten has hitched his wagon behind a few different donkeys. and has picked up more than his share of donkey dust. possibly he will be labours best hope in auckland as he implodes yet again, through lack of smarts ,and unfounded overconfidence. senior nats keep him firmly at arms length now after the muller disaster. he is too smart for his own good, but not smart enough to for his job decription.

  4. Incognito 4

    Trump ruled by tweet, Sharma rules by Facebook, and Brown is old-school and rules by letter. Does he lick the stamps, spits on them, or does he [….] on them to make it stick?

  5. Ghostwhowalksnz 5

    Many dont seem to know what the Mayors job entails

    Well the Auckland council provides the details – which it had for Mayor Goff – who still is Mayor till new Mayor sworn in next week


    The mayor’s responsibilities include:

    • promoting a vision for Auckland
    • providing leadership to achieve the vision
    • leading the development of council plans, policies and budgets
    • ensuring effective engagement between Auckland Council and Aucklanders.

    The development of the Budget gives him some power akin to the Minister of Finance, but needs to be passed by Council of course.

    What he seems to be doing in last few days is 'promoting a vision for Auckland' and he certainly hopes the council will endorse by votes his leadership

    Its strange that some seem to think that the Government and Mahutas 'messaging' about 3 waters – which hasnt yet passed into law- supersedes Browns 'messaging' about the councils approach- which the previous council had voted to oppose

    • Incognito 5.1

      Brown’s messaging is two-pronged: OTOH, it is blunt & crass, but OTOH, it is sub-liminal dog whistling and using the Force. He, or rather his advisory team of grey man in in grey clothes doing black ops, is manipulating the great unwashed to reject Three Waters outright and wash it down the drain before it reaches a higher level than the kneejerk responses of the reptilian brain. You seem an all-too-willing advocate of this approach!? I reckon the PM is not so gullible.

      • Ghostwhowalksnz 5.1.1

        I seem to know more about it . Your language indicates you have never built a drain or designed one like I have.

        Ive said the 3 waters or similar is definitely needed for the medium and smaller cities- Hastings killed people for goodness sake. Watercare itself did a lot for smaller rural communities on Auckland outskirts which were neglected by their rural councils.

        For example Clarks Beach village on the Manukau had a sewerage scheme, nearby Glenbrook beach village didnt. Watercare built a sewer line to connect it up. Theres other work for clean water supply as well. If you have ever read Watercares updates many would know this, but Im wondering if the 'inner urban elites' brain deigns to such things

        The abusive tone doesnt become you

        • Incognito


          Moving the drain posts, I see.

          Go dig a hole for yourself somewhere else.

          • Ghostwhowalksnz

            I was using real life situations to show the readers , while your clever metaphors might go down better for say the New York Review of Books readers

            Its all about the pipes and drains, without them we dont have a functioning city, inspite of what some think .

            Run for Mayor yourself my friend , it might be humbling
            Wellington had a different approach, their new mayor is someone from the professional politician class and an real life spin doctor/PR maven. A very capable person by accounts , but will it fix their pipes ?

            • Incognito

              It is about unblocking the sewage system of local politics marred by inaction (fatbergs) and poor decision making that is already costing ratepayers heaps and will cost future generations heaps more. That’s what Three Waters Reforms aim to address.

              Stop diverting.

              • Ghostwhowalksnz

                Really . You are diverting by raising Council resolutions to submit on the various 3 waters legislation packages. The first , already passed covers water quality issues . No real problems over that as its entirely necessary

                The current 'Entities' legislation which the council submitted its opposition to Watercare being included , which you falsely claimed to mean the Council supported it. ( never reading what they said)

                Im quite happy to correct your falsehoods , probably done in good faith but lack understanding, but now you say Im diverting ?

                Since you cant win on the facts no need to become a black letter lawyer and try to win on the wording and pleas to 'future generations'

                [Making up false statements about what I said.

                The current ‘Entities’ legislation which the council submitted its opposition to Watercare being included , which you falsely claimed to mean the Council supported it.

                Point to a comment of mine where I said that.

                You’re in Pre-Mod until then – Incognito]

                • Incognito

                  Mod note

                  • Ghostwhowalksnz


                    You making up BS again angry

                    Resolution number GB/2022/51

                    MOVED by Mayor P Goff, seconded by Cr L Cooper:

                    That the Governing Body:

                    a) endorse the development of Auckland Council’s submission on the Water Services Entities Bill consistent with resolutions of the 23 September 2021 Governing Body meeting …….

                    The motion was declared CARRIED by 15 votes to 5.

                    This was about a Council resolution on submissions that both reference its Sept 21 opposition and also oppose Watercare being included in the Entities legislation.

                    Your falsehood was saying BS about my factual claims that the council had passed resolutions opposing the major 3 waters bill which takes over Watercare

                    Clearly you hadnt even glanced at the Council submissions, but made the claim in a misunderstanding that submitting to the select committee indicated support . For why else would you seem triumphant in a 'gotcha' … with emoji

                    If you are honourable you would admit your mistake in in your BS claim , which is false .

                    But as you want to have comments and moderation that raises interesting issues about boundaries ( ironic in that Brown certainly has overstepped his)

                    [Your continued and repeated BS is that previous Council wanted Watercare to stop work on Three Waters Reforms. This was and still is utter BS.

                    Then you claimed that I’d said that previous Council supported WSE Bill, which is again utter BS. Making submissions, pro or con, doesn’t imply support at all and I never said such a thing.

                    I can’t be bothered anymore with your ongoing falsehoods about the previous Council, Brown’s letters and his right to rule by decree, Three Waters, and digging holes for pipes & drains in the wop-wops. Take the rest of the month off – Incognito]

  6. satty 6

    In the picture, does W. Brown "complain" about the width of the footpath?

    To me it appears the footpath is too narrow to be usable, especially with the electricity poles on the footpath. Good to see broken yellow lines, because the "average" NZ car drivers would otherwise use the "footpath" as their own public parking space.

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      Its a rural area by the looks of it. Not even a suburban shopping strip would be that narrow.

      The width seems fine for a person to walk along.

      • Belladonna 6.1.1

        It's Upper Harbour Drive. So, a road which used to be major (access to the upper harbour bridge), before the new motorway intersection was put in place.

        The problem with walking (and cycling) is that the road ends on Albany Highway (a semi-motorway – 4 lanes at that point, and a really nasty intersection – even for cars, let alone unprotected cyclists) – which is deeply unfriendly to both pedestrians and cyclists.

        There are no destinations for people (shops, playgrounds, community facilities) anywhere within reasonable walking distance on or from Upper Harbour Drive – so everyone drives.

        There would (potentially) be reason to cycle (though many cyclists have also been critical of the cycle lane – and the accident rate for cyclists has also gone up since it was installed). However, it suffers from the not-joined-up thinking – it's a cycle lane that ends directly in a heavy traffic semi-motorway, with no further cycle path.

        In Auckland, we seem to have been suffering from a desire to put in cycleways, without thinking through where they are going, and who (potentially) will use them. The vast majority of people won't cycle 20K or more to work – certainly not to start with. However, there is real potential for shorter distance cycle trips (to the dairy, to the local library, to the swimming pool, etc.). But, for that to work, the cycleways have to start at the destination and work outwards. There is little point to setting up one in a suburban street which effectively goes nowhere.

        ATM, the local shopping centres, libraries, swimming pools, etc. – are all deeply unfriendly (infrastructure-wise) to cyclists (and, often, to pedestrians, for that matter).

    • Ad 6.2

      It's North Harbour.

      AT got a lot of complaints about car damage when they were installed.

      They will probably replace them with rubber ones.

      If anyone out there knows AT staff, just support them. They are the only people keeping our transport network alive. They are under incredible pressure and have essentially no allies right now.

    • Tiger Mountain 6.3

      WTF would be appropriate for this image.

      I have lived in the Far North community for 30 odd years, where this pest has also lived. One of his many properties is a small apartment on the end of an historic building–a long time Four Square shop–cantilevered and piled, over the Mangonui Harbour.

      When the store was renovated some years back, (you could see the water through the gaps in the floorboards previously), Browny took the opportunity to rearrange the footpaths and parking out front without proper consents, also knocking back disabled entry–archived at Northland Age. The result being he gets a carpark for his Jeep and arrogant warning signs–“Don’t even think of parking here, you will be towed” and everyone else has to put up with reduced road width. Since he became Auckland’s bane, the carpark has been gleefully used by all and sundry.

      The multi level apartments he built around the corner opposite Mangonui Wharf, are constantly being pumped out from underground spring water that is a well known local feature for engineers, which he claims to be.

      Look, he is easily sprung, but few seem to care what a degenerate he is. Brown has to be considered a puppet at the moment, with his National Party and ex Labour (Chris “the Lizard” Matthews) as minders and strategists.

      Councillors do your job!

      • Visubversa 6.3.1

        So pleased that someone else remembers the "lizard" moniker for Chris Matthews from the days when he used to throw his weight around at Labour Party meetings. Him and his mate the "Brothel Creeper".. His eyes were always the same colour as his face.

  7. Cricklewood 7

    I do like the part where he said Auckland transport should consult with the relevant local boards on descions like removing carparking etc.

    That way the community gets heard and the flip side to that is perhaps local boards could request Auckland transport work to reduce carparks if that's what the local community wants.

    Making the decisions more locally focused with local control will actually help bring people along with the change. Not to mention it might actually enthuse a few more people to participate.

  8. AB 8

    This is the telling bit in Brown's letter "You appear to have been focused on changing how Aucklanders live"

    i.e. it's the old "social engineering" accusation that was used so effectively against the Clark government in its last term. I remember arguing endlessly (and pointlessly) at the time, that all political ideas are social engineering, politics is in essence a disagreement about what sort of social engineering we want. There are other parallels too – the word 'woke' now serving the same purpose as 'political correctness' did back in 2008. This seems to be how the nexus of RW power (business, media, political parties) attacks and brings down even the most mildly centrist/leftish governments.

  9. Peter 9

    From a Brown letter:

    "AT must seek to deeply understand how Aucklanders actually live now, how they want to live in the future, and deliver transport services that support those aspirations."

    On Sir Dove-Meyer Robinson:

    "Robinson's main focus during his second period as mayor (1968) was his advocacy for rapid transit system for Auckland. Robinson's proposal for a bus-rail rapid transit plan was "to provide fast, modern electrified railways through the main traffic corridors of the region". The proposal had passenger trains every three minutes running from an underground subway terminal in the city centre with above ground tracks leading to Howick, Auckland Airport and a tunnel to the North Shore. The scheme was heavily criticized for its cost (an estimated $273 million in 1973) and both the ARA chairman Tom Pearce and most of its members opposed the scheme. The Third Labour Government reneged on an election pledge to pay for the scheme and the rapid rail proposal disappeared. Retrospectively, Robinson's idea to implement rapid rail was seen as a possible long-term solution to Auckland's subsequent transportation difficulties. The phrase; "If we'd only listened to Robbie…" has become common speech in Auckland whenever the city's transport system is debated."


    So, Brown's letter:

    How Aucklanders actually live now? On clogged, hardly coping roads. In a city with major transport infrastructural work under way impacting dramatically.

    How they want to live in the future? With unclogged high-class roads in every direction with orange cones never sighted, with no major transport infrastructural work to impacting lives.

    The solutions? There are none that will go past merely 'coping' and 'coping miserably.'

    The main and ongoing change will merely be in the volume of the caterwauling and the discontent about transport in Auckland.

    When Robinson wanted something dramatic to happen, (which would now have been the base for extending and developing) the population was about 600,000.

    Around 2030 the population will be 2 million, Brown will be well gone and Hooten will be working for the 3rd term National/Act government.

  10. Nic the NZer 10

    What's the picture about?

    Wayne Brown risking damage to road infrastructure, cones and injury to any passing cyclists?

    • roblogic 10.1

      He's doing the traditional Boomer ritual of celebrating a bike lane by observing how empty it is (and ignoring the road that is 100x more expensive and just as empty)

      • Nic the NZer 10.1.1

        He doesn't seem to have the mentality of a cyclist. Most cyclists are aware some drivers will treat them as if they have a target on their back. Wayne doesn't appear to have realized the Mayor can be spontaneously recognized in public, yet.

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