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I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel.
I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel.

PoliticsNovember 10, 2022

A complete photographic history of Mayor Wayne Brown* meeting people 

I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel.
I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel.

Who needs an interview when the pictures are this evocative?

Critics of Mayor Wayne Brown have chided an approach to sharing information with the people of Auckland that eschews interviews in favour of a stream of brusque press releases and imperious open letters. That charge is unfair. He also puts out photography.

And what photography it is. Though the images may not yet have achieved the hallowed status of the Kim Jong-il Looking at Things oeuvre, they undeniably freight an evocative, iridescent power, especially if you squint. Let the exhibition begin. 

October 20: Mayor Wayne Brown meets Jacinda Ardern (triptych)

Twelve days after the election, Mayor Brown the Second welcomed the prime minister to his 27th floor office. In a trio of photographs befitting the most important elected representative in the country, and also Jacinda Ardern, a sense of order is evinced. The composition is immaculate. The flowers are in just the right place. The light sings. 

The prime minister is divulging significant matters of state. The harbour glistens in the distance. The future looks more fixable than ever, and that makes the mayor happy, though he’s poised to take the brace position, just in case. 

Above, the prime minister looks on admiringly as the mayor knocks out a sea shanty. The legs of song-loving staffers, both in sailors’ hats and whistling along, bracket the lower corners of the frame. 

If the images look professional it’s because they are. They come with a credit – Jay Farnworth for Auckland Council – and at considerable size: the largest is 6.5mb, sufficient resolution for Auckland’s famous Wayniacs to blow it up and beam it in the sky or print it on their duvet covers.

October 21: Mayor Wayne Brown meets Chlöe Swarbrick (diptych)

 Pray for Jay Farnworth. One day on and either the city outside has been engulfed in a solar flare or the photographer has been fired. The flowers are gone, leaving just the White Table in the foreground. The mayor stares, horrified, at the Auckland Central MP’s extra-terrestrial hand. A lonely foot watches on. 

Also this one. At 123kb, fans of file size will be interested to know that Wayne and Chlöe are roughly 50 times smaller than Wayne and Jacinda. 

October 21: Mayor Wayne Brown meets David Seymour

A big day for the Mayor Meets series. The mayor and the Act leader lend action to the image by holding aloft, respectively, some sheets of A4 and a cup of tea, which is just as well, in the absence of any other obvious signs of life. The white table inches closer towards the mayor and his guest, egged on by the lonely foot, and its unmistakable thirst for violence.

October 25: Mayor Wayne Brown meets elected Auckland members

A departure from the office series, but this official photograph, as supplied to media by the mayor’s team, demands inclusion. It coats your retina in sulfuric acid; it screams into the soul like a drowning cat. The mayoral address is so powerful that the green man in the emergency exit sign will, within a matter of seconds, have completely melted. 

October 26: Mayor Wayne Brown meets Nanaia Mahuta

That’s better. The angry white table is gone, having tendered its resignation after getting a letter from the mayor. The minister for local government loves the new shanty and she loves the socks. If you count the jug, the table now holds three waters. (You’re welcome.) Do the disembodied fingers and knee belong to the same body as the lonely foot? Who knows? Who cares? Nearly finished.

November 7: Mayor Wayne Brown meets Christopher Luxon

For 13 long, uneasy days, no photos came. Mayor Brown sat in his leather chair waiting day and night (9am-3pm, Monday to Friday) with nothing for company but a lonely, angry foot and the corpse of a photographer.  

Sweet relief! The leader of the National Party has paraglided through a 27th floor portal. The mayor is on his feet, suit jacket thrown off, the city restored through the window. The two men tell the story of the future: summery, beaming, ready, and doing all they can to disguise the fierce combat playing out in that handshake for the high-status grip.

* For the purposes of this survey, only photography of Wayne Brown meeting people in his capacity as Auckland mayor has been considered. The Spinoff accepts Wayne Brown may have been photographed meeting people during his time as mayor of the Far North.

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