Len Brown

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Len Brown
Len brown.jpg
1st Mayor of Auckland
In office
1 November 2010 – 8 October 2016
DeputyPenny Hulse
Preceded byOffice created
John Banks
(as Mayor of Auckland City)

Len Brown
(as Mayor of Manukau City)

Bob Harvey
(as Mayor of Waitakere City)

Andrew Williams
(as Mayor of North Shore City)

Calum Penrose
(as Mayor of Papakura District)

Penny Webster
(as Mayor of Rodney District)

Mark Ball
(as Mayor of Franklin District)
Succeeded byPhil Goff
Mayor of Manukau City
In office
October 2007 – 31 October 2010
DeputyWilliam Sio
Preceded byBarry Curtis
Succeeded byOffice Abolished
Personal details
Born (1956-10-01) 1 October 1956 (age 62)[3]
Taumarunui, Ruapehu District, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand
Political partyIndependent (local)
Labour (national)
Spouse(s)Shirley Inglis
Alma materUniversity of Auckland

Leonard Brown[3] (born (1956-10-01)1 October 1956[4] in Taumarunui) is a former mayor of Auckland, New Zealand and former head of the Auckland Council. He won the 2010 Auckland mayoral election on 9 October 2010 and was sworn in as Mayor of Auckland on 1 November 2010, being the first to hold that title for the amalgamated Auckland "Super City", and was re-elected in 2013.[5] Brown had previously been elected mayor of Manukau City in October 2007, the second time he ran for that office. Brown is married to Shirley Anne "Shan" Inglis, and has three daughters: Samantha, Olivia and Victoria.[4][6]

Early years[edit]

Brown was born in Taumarunui, a small town in the King Country of the central North Island of New Zealand. His family moved to Otara, South Auckland when he was seven years old.[7] He attended Mayfield Primary School, Papatoetoe Intermediate School and De La Salle College.

He remembers his youth in prosperous small-town New Zealand fondly, remarking on them as "generous, generous days".[3] His life growing up has been described as revolving around family, church, school and community. His parents, Tom and Ngaire, were described as strong believers in social equity and social justice as well as active in the community life.[3] While not having grown up fully in Auckland, his family often travelled to see relatives there, his parents having originally moved to Taumarunui from South Auckland.[3]

A lawyer by profession, Brown was a partner at law firm Wynyard Wood, and co-founded the Howick Free Legal Service.[8]

Political career[edit]

He was first elected to the Manukau City council in 1992, and continued as councillor until 2004 when he did not run for re-election.[4] He was also the chairperson of the Counties Manukau Health Council from 1998. Brown first ran for mayor of Manukau in 2004, and narrowly lost to long serving mayor Sir Barry Curtis; he lost by fewer than 600 votes. Brown had considered requesting a re-count due to the closeness of the vote, but decided that he had not been close enough to warrant it.[9] Despite his affiliation with the New Zealand Labour Party since age 17,[10] Brown did not run for election in the 2005 General Election, and instead returned to working for Wynyard Wood.[11]

Mayor of Manukau City[edit]

Brown announced his candidacy for the Manukau City mayoralty in 2006,[12] Barry Curtis announced that he would not be running for re-election, and Brown's main opposition were former Olympic runner Dick Quax and radio personality Willie Jackson. Brown resigned from Wynard Wood in 2007 to focus on his candidacy full-time. In August 2007, both Quax and Brown were polling "neck and neck".[13] Brown ran on several policies, including; capping rates at the cost of inflation, increasing public transport, and working with youth in the region.[14]

Brown won the election in October 2007 with more than 32,000 votes; his next closest rival Dick Quax had less than 18,000,[15] and the election was humorously termed a 'Lenslide' by some.[10] He was sworn in on 26 October 2007 at the Manukau City Council hall.[16]

On 31 May 2008 he suffered a heart attack, while at a music awards ceremony. The condition arose from a previously unrecognised congenital heart problem and Brown was admitted to Auckland Hospital.[17] Brown had successful heart bypass surgery two days later and made a full recovery, returning to mayoral duties after a few months.[18] His wife acknowledged that the attack was not stress-related, but rather a family issue, with Len's mother having died from a heart attack at 47.[10]

Mayor of Auckland campaign[edit]

In August 2009, Brown announced that he would run for the mayoralty of the combined Auckland "super-city" in the Auckland mayoral election, 2010.[19] His campaign speech focused on delivering public transport, public ownership of the region's public assets, environmental protection, economic and social development.[19][20][21] He won the position by a majority of 65,945 votes over main rival candidate, Auckland City mayor John Banks,[1] on 9 October 2010, spending approximately $390,000.[22]

Credit-card and expense issues[edit]

In June 2010, Brown came under media attention for matters relating to his spending on his council credit card and other council expense claims, which included items of a personal nature like toys, groceries and insect repellant.[23] His subsequent explanations for these purchases were also scrutinised at a council meeting, where Brown repeatedly slapped his face and got emotional.[24] An advisor later explained that Brown's emotional behaviour was attributable to his use of a Maori tradition, which Brown subsequently denied.[25]

Another council expense claim included an $810 dinner at a restaurant, which Brown has refused to discuss who was in attendance.[26] He noted that the event was a fundraiser for a local singer for which the Council bought a table, an explanation later supported by the artist.[27]

Mayor of Auckland[edit]

Brown speaking at the 2016 2WALKandCYCLE Conference

As Mayor of Auckland, Brown was an advocate for the proposed City Rail Link,[28] to boost public transport usage. In June 2013, the National Government agreed to financially support construction of the rail project, and construction began in late-2015.[29]

Brown was re-elected to the mayoralty in 2013, gaining 46.6% of the vote. In response to the low voter turnout (at 34% the lowest ever recorded in Auckland), Brown said the next election should include electronic voting and take place on one day, instead of being spread out over three weeks.[5] In late 2015, he stated he would not contest the mayoralty at the 2016 election, and was succeeded as mayor by Phil Goff as a result of that election.[30]

Extramarital affair[edit]

Days after his October 2013 re-election, stories broke regarding Brown having a two-year extramarital affair with Bevan Chuang, a younger woman who served on an Auckland Council advisory board, and having sex with Chuang in the mayoral office and town hall.[31] Brown released a statement confirming the affair, though not the details on where they had sex.[32] Later in the week, Chuang claimed to have been pressured to go public by a member of mayoral rival John Palino's election team, which she later regretted doing.[33]

The Auckland Council launched an investigation into spending by the mayor, which backed up his insistence that he never spent council money on Chuang.[34] The report did find that he had received undisclosed upgrades from hotels around the city.[35] The Serious Fraud Office determined that the matter did not require further investigation or prosecution,[36] and leave to bring a private prosecution for corruption[37] was denied by the Solicitor-General for lack of proper evidence.[36]


  1. ^ a b "Final results – mayor". Auckland Council. Archived from the original on 25 October 2010.
  2. ^ "Final results for elections 2007 Archived 26 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine". Manukau City Council.
  3. ^ a b c d e "'They were generous days...'". The New Zealand Herald. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Udanga, Romy (1 September 2009). "Brown goes for top job". North Shore Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b New Zealand Herald: Super City elections 2013: Brown to wield the knife
  6. ^ Taylor, Phil (28 February 2009). "Mayor Len Brown – life after the last rites". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Meet Len". Archived from the original on 2 June 2010.
  8. ^ "Len Brown: A political career", 15 October 2103, stuff.co.nz
  9. ^ English, Philip (15 October 2004). "News all good for Sir Barry". The New Zealand Herald. p. A12.
  10. ^ a b c McCracken, Heather (6 June 2010). "'Grey man' to lead the Supercity?". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  11. ^ English, Philip (13 October 2004). "Candidate clings to hope". The New Zealand Herald. p. A11.
  12. ^ Brown, Ken (18 August 2006). "Len Brown Announces Manukau Mayoralty Candidacy". scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  13. ^ McCarten, Matt (19 August 2007). "The Banks, Hubbard show and a few other risky predictions". The New Zealand Herald.
  14. ^ "Brown shares his ideas". theaucklander.co.nz. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  15. ^ Taylor, Phil (17 October 2007). "Len Brown wins Manukau mayoralty". times.co.nz. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  16. ^ Haka, James (26 October 2007). "Ovation as Brown sworn in". nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  17. ^ "Manukau mayor collapse footage seizure denied". The New Zealand Herald. 1 June 2008.
  18. ^ Taylor, Phil (28 February 2009). "Mayor Len Brown – life after the last rites". The New Zealand Herald.
  19. ^ a b "Len Brown puts hat in ring for super city mayoralty". The New Zealand Herald. 30 August 2009. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.
  20. ^ Collins, Simon (28 September 2010). "Social housing issue splits candidates". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.
  21. ^ Orsman, Bernard (17 August 2010). "Brown adds 'eco' to his city plan". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.
  22. ^ Rudman, Brian (12 March 2014). "Cash needed to grease wheels of democracy". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.
  23. ^ Marshall, Jonathan (6 June 2010). "Brown zaps city's card". The Sunday Star-Times.
  24. ^ Marshall, Jonathan (15 June 2010). "Manukau mayor Len Brown defends spending". Fairfax NZ News.
  25. ^ Meng-Yee, Carolyne; McCracken, Heather (4 July 2010). "Len Brown's smackdown". Herald on Sunday.
  26. ^ Meng-Yee, Carolyne (27 June 2010). "Only Jesus' scrutinised as much as me". Herald on Sunday.
  27. ^ Orsman, Bernard (18 June 2010). "Brown's dinner helps ex-bikie sing new tune". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  28. ^ RBG Technical Services (5 August 2013). "Len Brown determined to see rail link through". New Zealand's Rhema. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013.
  29. ^ City Rail Link starts. Auckland Transport 21 December 2015.
  30. ^ "Phil Goff elected Mayor of Auckland". 8 October 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  31. ^ "Mayor Len Brown confirms affair". Fairfax NZ News. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  32. ^ Brown, Len. "Statement from Mayor Len Brown". Scoop.co.nz. Scoop. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  33. ^ Savage, Jared; Orsman, Bernard; Tan, Lincoln (17 October 2013). "Mayor provided reference for job at council-run art gallery". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.
  34. ^ "Council audit to probe how woman treated". Radio New Zealand. 21 October 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013.
  35. ^ Beswick, Angela (13 December 2013). "Len Brown's hotel upgrades total more than $32,000". 3 News (TV3 Auckland). Archived from the original on 13 December 2013.
  36. ^ a b Bennett, Lucy (28 February 2014). "Private prosecution against Len Brown shot down by Solicitor-General". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.
  37. ^ Ellingham, Jimmy (20 January 2014). "Len Brown prosecution a 'test case'". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.

External links[edit]

Political offices
New office Mayor of Auckland
2010 – 2016
Succeeded by
Phil Goff