John Tamihere: My final pitch to voters

We asked the two leading Auckland mayoral contenders to write a ‘final pitch’ to voters. This is what John Tamihere wrote. You can read Phil Goff’s pitch here. (Important note: if you’re voting by post, get your papers in the mail today, Tuesday. If you don’t have papers, or can’t get them in the mail today, you can still vote: read this.)

The Spinoff local election coverage is entirely funded by The Spinoff Members. For more about becoming a member and supporting The Spinoff’s journalism, click here.


It is always pleasing to be able to write on a platform that has consistently been in opposition to my candidacy, article after article after article. 

I make no apologies for being born and bred in working class west Auckland. And I make no apologies for being one of 12 children born to a labouring Māori father that left school at 12 to help feed his own whānau. 

My well-read and educated Pākehā mother ensured, from her strong Irish background that we were schooled at Catholic schools and practised that faith. She was a proud third generation Kiwi republican. Little did she know that her family would disown her for marrying a Māori and it was her faith that always came to her rescue in her most difficult moments. 

I was the first in my neighbourhood to go to university and graduate with a double law degree. I did not and would not ever turn my back on the community I was raised in and have always stayed out here in the service of the west Auckland community. 

I do not think act, speak or look like a number of The Spinoff’s employees, who always write me down because they will never be able to bridle me. 

This small back story helps shape who and what I am and why I am standing for mayor. 

A working class person of mixed origin has a right to aspire to higher office in this country without being told by The Spinoff or the ruling elite running the Labour Party that I have to go to the back of the bus because they have chosen Mr Goff to go to the front of it. To assert their total domination and power, they then rejected me as a member of the Labour Party, noting that my father had made me a member when I was eight years old when he was a member of the Labourers’ Union. 

Fifty-two years later, I made a decision to run for mayor of Auckland because I will not allow fellow humans to lay in the gutter of any city. We cannot normalise the abnormal and surrender to this conduct. My generation is responsible and it’s up to my generation to fix a number of things that we have done wrong. 

In housing, the market was never going to meet the demand for housing supply. The market always moves towards cartels and monopolies and we see it from petrol to banking to food electricity and construction. 

The narrative and the contest in Auckland will never be changed from Wellington ruled by the two old tribes. 

The undoubted power, population and leverage of Auckland will seize on devolution into the communities as opposed to centralisation from Wellington which we should have put to bed last century. 

No government can form unless it wins Auckland. No cabinet can be appointed unless is has a significant number of ministers from Auckland. 

Auckland is the total population of the South Island plus 50%. It generates 40% of the nation’s GDP. It is over one in three of the population of this country. It is the commercial and intellectual capital of the Pacific. It is the only globally scalable city in the country. 

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We must now have a leader that asserts Auckland’s rights at this special moment in time, where we are too big not to have major infrastructure investment but too small to fund it from our ratepayer base. 

Aucklanders willingly paid for the rebuild of Christchurch. Aucklanders willingly paid for the rebuild of Kaikoura and the repairs to Wellington. The $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund is funded by Aucklanders, but we are not allowed to apply for one cent of that fund. 

The time has come for change and Auckland needs a champion, rather than a puppet to Wellington. 


The Spinoff local election coverage is entirely funded by The Spinoff Members. For more about becoming a member and supporting The Spinoff’s journalism, click here.


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