Mayor fires salvos at Council and AT after Puhoi visit

3 February 2023, Mahurangi Matters newspaper article – by chief reporter, Sally Marden.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has called for emergency management to be decentralised as the wild weather and state of emergency continues.

Speaking exclusively to Mahurangi Matters after visiting flood-ravaged Puhoi this morning (Tuesday), Brown said communication during Friday’s floods had been dreadful and even he had struggled to find out what was going on.

“We’ve learned that a lot of central management that I’ve inherited is not such a good idea,” he said. “Communication has been dreadful and I’ve been accused of being the worst possible person, because I couldn’t find out what was happening either. I think we have to get decentralising.”

However, Brown praised local residents and businesses for how they had tackled the massive clean-up over the weekend.
“The community has really got stuck in and they’ve been amazing,” he said.

The Mayor met with Puhoi fire chief Russell Green and also visited Mill Flat Road in Riverhead, where floodwaters washed away a bridge on Friday.

Speaking after his visit, Brown was critical of both Council and Auckland Transport (AT) for being urban-focused.
“Everyone at AT and Auckland Council has been so centralised in the city they forget that 60% of the area is rural, but I’m a town and country boy so we’ll redress that. I want to put some rural people on the board.
“It takes a bit of reminding to them that we’re a council for rural areas,” he said.

“I’m accused of being an angry person, well I’m an angry person because they’re not looking after people properly.”

The Mayor said more people doing practical things more regularly was what was needed, rather than lots of people writing reports.

“There’s too much money spent on management and not enough on doing things,” he said.

“I’m quite happy to upset those people and say go and find something else to do. I want stuff done, not reports written – people with practical experience doing things on the ground.”

However, he also said people needed to take a degree of responsibility for their own property and where it was situated.

“People do have to do some things themselves,” he said. “If someone rings and says the drain is blocked outside my house, I’d say get a shovel and go and do it if you can. We don’t pay rates for someone to be standing outside your house 24/7.

“And if you’ve chosen to live in a low-lying area, or live above cliffs, you’ve got to take even more of an interest.”

Brown warned Rodney residents not to hold out hope for lots of road sealing under current budget restraints, but he maintained that better construction and regular maintenance was the way forward.

“If people had unsealed roads that actually worked, they would be okay,” he said. “I’ve lived on these roads for years and know how to build them properly.

“The way they handle loose metal roads is so stupid it’s hard to believe, because the AT board doesn’t have one transport expert, one engineer or anyone who lives rurally and that’s going to change, and I’m going to piss some people off to make that change.

“I don’t care about that – if you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve got to break some eggs.

“We need proper roads that are maintained. I’m going to have to fight to get what are practical, sensible solutions that work.”