Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Councillors and mayor sworn in

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New Howick ward councillor Maurice Williamson has been sworn in. Photo supplied
  • By Laura Kvigstad, Auckland Council reporter
    Funded by New Zealand on Air

Councillors and the mayor have been sworn in at the first meeting of the term, allowing them to start official business at Auckland Council.

The mayoral inauguration was an evening filled with cultural performances, quips from new councillors and a foreboding speech from the new mayor.

The new governing body was welcomed in a pōwhiri by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, with councillors led to the stage by newly appointed deputy mayor Desley Simpson.

Mayor Wayne Brown followed behind councillors donning a korowai and later the mayoral chains.

Brown’s inaugural speech set the political tone for the term ahead and painted a sombre picture for the people of Auckland.

Harking back to his comments around council’s fiscal storm, he said “I am sad to say, the wind and the rain are already here.”

“Some (Aucklanders) are going to be at risk of losing all their savings, and perhaps their homes,” he said.

“The reality is that big, major, restructuring and savings are needed for the first time since the Super City began 12 years ago… it needs to happen fast.”

Brown said the kinds of savings needed could not be achieved by asking people to pay another dollar at the zoo and set his sights on the Ports of Auckland.

$27 million had been spent on mystery expenses by the port in 2022, he said.

“That is not salaries, wages and contractors, or repairs, maintenance and finance costs, or anything like that. It is unknown other stuff.”

He said council needed to gauge whether services would be missed if they stopped providing them and use a “less is more” approach.

Brown said he would be looking to cut $25 million out of council headquarters which prompted council’s chief of strategy Megan Tyler to put her hand over her mouth.

Following Brown’s speech, councillors made their statutory declarations with many thanking their families and supporters.

Whau ward Kerrin Leoni made a point of making her declaration in te reo Māori as the first wāhine Māori to be elected to Auckland Council.

New Howick ward councillor Maurice Williamson said his family could not make the evening with his wife at the vet with their dog and his kids deciding to watch the tennis instead.

“If there are any of you out there that would like to adopt a councillor for the night, I’m your man,” he said, sparking laughter from the crowd.

All newly elected councillors, including Leoni and Williamson, will get the opportunity to give their inaugural speeches at the next governing body meeting.

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