Local ElectionsAugust 24, 2019

Revealed: The John-Tamihere-for-mayor campaign brainstorm


Phil Goff’s rival has already pledged an 0800-Jacinda homeless hotline and an 18-lane harbour bridge. What’s next? 

The two most important people in the 2019 campaign for the Auckland mayoralty faced each other down on Wednesday night across the desk in the NZME debate: Bernard Orsman and Simon Wilson. Correction: it was of course mayor Phil Goff and his challenger John Tamihere who were doing the debate, with the grand dukes of the NZ Herald providing the analysis.

But forgive me if I’d rather have watched Wilson and Orsman fight it out, and put Goff and Tamihere on the post-match. Because it feels as though the mayoral rivals are barely out of first gear – as if they’ve overslept and had to stumble, rubbing eyes and tying shoes, to this thing called the “election campaign”.

Goff’s discernible enthusiasm for the whole project is best expressed by that billboard, in which a teeny little incumbent mayor is pictured over in a corner, against a background of foliage, looking like he’s about to scarper off into the bush, set up camp and sit there spooning mayonnaise into his mouth until the whole thing is over.

Tamihere, meanwhile, refused in the NZME debate to say what his policy was on, for example, rates. He’s saving it up for a big announcement in the days to come. Fair enough, I guess, but his manifesto is still missing quite a few pages, and what will happen with rates is, you know, completely critical. Especially given that some of his policies already announced – the masterplan for an Ozymandias-style harbour bridge, for example – would cost an eye-watering amount of money.

John Tamihere speaking to media at Chamberlain Park (Photo: Alex Braae)

When challenged on his more startling policy ideas – a harbour bridge on steroids with 18 lanes, or a dial-in-a-homeless person hotline, 0800-JACINDA – Tamihere has resisted getting into the details, telling us, hey, he’s “getting a conversation going”.

If there’s one thing that the Tamihere campaign has going for it, it’s an abundance of original, firebrand thinking. With Matt McCarten, Michelle Boag and John Tamihere at the heart of the campaign, it’s safe to say that the freakish weather of recent weeks is a direct result of the brainstorm sessions held over the ginormous whiteboard at the campaign’s Morningside HQ. Free from the constraints of time, space, money, or physical reality, the Tamihere team has been able to drift free through the grand universe of ideas.

The Spinoff is also based in Morningside, and I squinted through the frosted windows at that very whiteboard*. Here are 12 policies I can confidently predict you will see soon.

Cut rates by 135%

Rename rate payments as eg “delicious biscuits”

Introduce a genuine, bona-fide, electrified, six-car monorail

Seize the Giant Hand from Wellington

Appoint the Hand co-chair of the council’s Environment Committee

Appoint Creepy Santa as Auckland Design Champion

Misspell Greenlane and sell it to Donald Trump

Flood all berms to create canal network, give narrowboats to all Aucklanders

Restore extinct giant penguin, giant parrot and moa (use science) to boost tourism

Delete all archival material from Investigate magazine, RadioLive, etc

Relocate council administrative offices to Rainbow’s End

String flying fox from Sky Tower to Devonport

* I didn’t do this, I’m just getting a conversation going.


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