GUEST BLOG: Finn Flynn – Wayne Brown’s vision for our future: Amphibious Auckland

WP: “What’s this?”. WB: “What’s that?”. WP: “Who are you?”. WB: “Where am I?”.

Wayne Brown became mayor on the promise to shrink Auckland Council’s debt to prevent rates rising. The plan was to sell off money-making publicly-owned assets and close down community services and amenities to save dosh. Not long before the election he was swamped by a torrent of money donated by fabulously wealthy property owners who would benefit most from his austerity plan. So grateful was one that he gave Wayne a helicopter tour of Wayne’s new domain.

Another torrent inundated numerous houses in late January this year, leaving many uninhabitable. Nine months later, and Wayne is again supporting propertied interests. He’s volunteered nearly a billion dollars of ratepayers’ money, to pay out storm-hit homeowners. Central government will punt up the remaining $1.1 billion.

That’s nice of him, you might say. And it’s a welcomed relief for the afflicted, no doubt, particularly those who were under-insured. But as he himself points out, the $900,000,000 is a one-off. Future climate change disasters will receive nothing no matter their insurance status. 

Nice of him, but also, well, odd. Wayne is a legendary curmudgeon not known for his largess. So why? His short-term fix – remember he’s Mr Fixit, right? – is political gold. Next mayoral election, he will be marketed as “The Man Who Saved You From Going Under…”

Cynical? Think of it this way. For the last 70 years, Aucklanders have been imploring politicians to fix the region’s wastewater and stormwater systems. Every decade or two, we get a tropical storm that blows the manhole covers of the sewer systems, and millions of litres of septic water pours through homes, down our streets, across our parks and into every beach in the region.

After every event politicians promise to expedite improvements to our underground networks, but at every local election cycle, “fiscal responsibility” returns its grip on the purse strings at the behest of whining ratepayers. 

You get what you pay for, so the saying goes. If we have paid for a proper wastewater system, we would not have shit up to our ankles when we go to the beach. We would not have creeks and bays stinking of sulphides. We would not have toilet paper splattered all over parks. We would not have hundreds of homes playing submarines, or people out on the streets, or a thousand tonnes of sewage-soaked carpets congo-lining to landfill. We would not have our insurance premiums shoot through the roof. 

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Unlike earthquakes or volcanic eruptions to which New Zealand is err, what happened in Auckland had been predicted for decades and was entirely preventable…  If we had paid to prevent it. 

Wayne could take a long view, see the inevitability of increasingly frequent future floods, and put that nearly-billion dollars into fixing the cause, not the symptoms. But that’s not as sexy as handing out cash and being….

“The Man Who Saved You From Going Under.”


Finn Flynn is a former journalist who has returned to New Zealand after more than a decade living in the US. He has witnessed the rapid decline of the so-called greatest country on Earth, from the buoyancy of Obama’s “audacity of hope” to the paralysing cynicism of Trump’s sulphuric politics. New Zealanders shake their heads in disbelief at America’s slide without realising that they too are on the same slippery slope to failure.


  1. I think you missed one important consideration @ F.F.
    What does Auckland actually do? How, is Auckland? I know, you might think I’m crazy, wacky, mad, loopy to even ask but what does Auckland actually [do] other than get buried in its own shit now and then while sheltering the neauveu riche who’s penises must be extended by their helicopters.
    I hope you don’t get me wrong by the way. I like Auckland. I like most cities if I have to be honest but ol Auckland aye? Tell me? What does Auckland actually do for a living? ( The answer is simple. I’m writing this in whisper text because I don’t want to cause a fuss and upset anyone, thus more poo and a chopper refuel. Here’s the truth…. * Shhhhhhhhhh…. I don’t want to wake the baby. Aesop Rock. )
    Farmers. Auckland is stolen farmer money. A lot of it and stolen over a very, very long period of time in a way so sneaky that’d it make an office full of New York lawyers snorting their way through a new shipment look like hippy, full-contact group-hug kumbaya humming kitten snugglers for Jesus on a warm sunny day-out picnic with their babies and grandparents, all white and washed, of course. Aye Boys? )
    In Aotearoa/ New Zealand the first and foundational question must always be ” But where’d the money come from?”

  2. We too have been stricken by the new atmospheric rivers that damage everything. It has now been established that these atmospheric rivers tend to strike from over the water to Westerly facing rising land. As New Plymouth has experience of damaging storms coming from the West, I predict that New Plymouth will suffer another storm but of greater intensity in the next two years.

  3. He uses the same logic that says band-aids are cheaper than surgery so all most people get is band-aids. Build it cheap & get quick cash seems to be the attitude of the major players who then conveniently (for them) disappear before any subsequent problems arise.

  4. I voted for Wayne but strongly object to handing ratepayers money to uninsured homeowners whose houses were damaged in the flood.

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