Mayor Len Brown wants Auckland to consider Chinese money and expertise to help build its transport infrastructure.
Auckland Council cannot raise all the cash itself and people might have to settle for user charges for major transport projects such as a second harbour crossing and the inner-city rail link, he says.
''Do we get overseas investors to come in here? They may be Asian, they could be Chinese.''
Brown was speaking at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Greater East Tamaki Business Association on Tuesday.
He says debate over the Crafar farms sale ''was ugly'' and ''we've got to get through some of this stuff''.
Auckland should be open to the idea of public-private partnerships, of overseas companies ''buddying up'' with local companies, he says.
''I don't want to see a whole bunch of workers coming from Europe or South America or China or Vietnam or wherever and just arriving here and doing our stuff.
''But I do want us to receive the benefit of great expertise and very paced infrastructure delivery.''
Brown says he would need business community support ''when the debate starts''.
''I need you to be voluble around this issue.
''It's a tough call for me as the leader of the city. I'm going to have to get out there and try and sell a policy that necessarily many people in the community, particularly here in the south, will be a little wary and nervous about.''
He says China will be New Zealand's biggest trading partner ''before long'' with a current trade of $13 billion a year and growing fast.
''Most of you in this room will be doing trade, either direct or indirect with China at this point in time.''
- © Fairfax NZ News