New council, fresh focus for Mayor Brown
Auckland Mayor Len Brown is hoping the inauguration of his new council and the city's success in a popular travel guide will take the focus off his personal life.
In the two weeks since his extramarital affair with failed local board candidate Bevan Chuang was made public, Mr Brown has missed a number of public engagements. When he has appeared, he has made efforts to speak of his intention to remain Mayor.
This morning on Firstline however, he said the missed engagements had nothing to do with avoiding the spotlight in the wake of the revelations, first broken on right-wing blog Whale Oil.
"Shan and I and the family had no breaks at all this year, so it was really important for us at the end of another torrid election campaign to actually spend some time together, and we've done that," says Mr Brown.
"It was time for a break, and that we needed to have a little bit of a chill out. And also look, in amongst that I have continued to do the work that I needed to do."
Twenty councillors, many of them returning, will be inaugurated today, including returning Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, whom Mr Brown says has done a "stunning" job in the last three years.
"Six new councillors [are] getting inaugurated tonight, a very special occasion for them and their families," says Mr Brown, "and the city [is] very much of a mind – particularly with that announcement this morning – that we should just move on into the second term and do the work that we need to do."
That announcement is Auckland's inclusion in travel guide Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2014 guide. The city is ranked in 10th place, in the company of global hotspots like Paris, Shanghai and Zurich.
"Aucklanders will be absolutely chuffed with this announcement this morning," says Mr Brown. "We have worked so hard to build Auckland as a real destination – you've got to love this place, don't you?"
Though he admits – his indiscretions aside – the city has a few major problems still holding it back.
"We've got to build houses, we've got to get our transport sorted, we've got a second term for us to focus on."
But could there be more damaging revelations concerning his private life yet to be revealed? When asked this morning, Mr Brown didn't flatly deny it.
"I'm not going to get into any of that… It's a question that is between myself and my wife, and we are working on our relationship, getting over a difficult situation as you might imagine with my family. And that's what my answer to that will be – that is a family matter between myself and my wife."
Today's council inauguration ceremony will take place at the Town Hall from 6pm, and is open to the public.