Mayor Len Brown confirms affair
Auckland Mayor Len Brown has said he caused his family "harm, shame and humiliation" by having an affair but will not step down.
He appeared on TV3's Campbell Live this evening just hours after news broke that he had had an affair with a junior council advisor - named as Bevan Chuang.
Earlier, he said in a statement: "I told my wife previously, and she and I are working through the issues privately. We are looking to protect our children as best we can."
Brown was elected for a second term on Saturday, and said he had told his wife and daughters about the affair last week.
"This evening my house is surrounded. As I go through this, I ask the community and the media to respect my family," he said.
"I’ve cost my wife and children harm and shame and humiliation."
The mayor, who refused to confirm Chuang's name, said she was not a council employee but served on a council advisory board and stood at this year's election for a ward seat.
Chuang, 32, unsuccessfully stood for the Albert-Eden Local Board in the recent elections and, before that, served on the council's Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel.
She made a splash early last year when she called for sperm donors to help her get pregnant during the Chinese year of the Dragon.
Last April, Chuang appeared on Holy Cow Media's Asian Radio Show talking about being single and Asian in New Zealand.
Chuang complained about "dodgy" men who wanted her to be "the mistress-type thing".
"I don't need to be someone's toy really," she said.
However, she later complained that Kiwi men, unlike Asian men, did not lavish gifts or money on their girlfriends.
"I'm not getting any financial gain from this either," she said.
In text messages published by Whaleoil today, the mayor allegedly referred to her as "B" and "Manchu girl".
The Whaleoil story, authored by former Herald On Sunday journalist Stephen Cook, said Chuang met Brown at a council function in 2011 and was texted by the politician just hours afterwards.
She told Cook that he pursued her for some weeks before the relationship turned physical.
They allegedly had sex on council property and were once surprised by a security guard as they had sex in the Ngati Whatua Room at the Auckland Town Hall.
Whaleoil also published text messages, allegedly from the mayor, in which he repeatedly complimented the woman, who he referred to as "B", and set up dates with her. The woman told Cook the relationship ended in July.
Brown said "these are matters of an entirely personal nature" and called for people to respect his family's privacy.
He said that if the scandal had come out before the local elections he did not think it would have affected his re-election.
Asked if he needed time off in light of the scandal, he said: "I've got a council to put together and an inauguration to have."
To those who voted for him, he said: "My apologies, but stand by me."
He denied the affair had interfered with his performance: "I’ve been mayor 24/7."
He said he believed people would make their own judgements about the situation. "I always listen," he said. "People will judge me on the whole."
"I clearly have a challenge within my family and it's there where I've failed dismally. And it's now there I need to go and do some extraordinary repair work to show my family I'm worthy of their trust and their love"
Council chief executive Doug McKay said after a meeting with staff this afternoon that Brown had some "family and personal issues to work through", the New Zealand Herald reported.
"He needs some space to deal with it ... I think we should give him a bit of time to do that."
Camille Nakhid, Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel chair, would not confirm whether she knew about the affair prior to today.
"I also cannot speak for the rest of board as to whether they were aware or not."
"I don't want to comment about if I knew."
Nakhid said she did not feel that the affair was a conflict of interest.
"We're there for the interests of the ethnic communities, we're not a moral board."
She said the time Chuang had been on the panel she had carried out her duties well. Whether Chuang would continue on the panel was not her call.
Fellow panel member Amil Habib said he had no idea about the affair.
"Len did come to our meetings and we did meet at public events. For us it was just normal.
"I'm very surprised about this. Bevan is very vibrant and strong, she has been a very professional and friendly member of the panel. We're all friendly."
Albert-Eden local board member Tim Woolfield, who worked with Chuang on her campaign, said: "If you're the mayor and you've got a 32-year-old female there and you're married and got children, you do not do that."
He said he didn't know why Chuang would have decided to go public.
"She's young, ambitious, and may have been waiting to see what transpired in this election. I don't know."
Brown, a qualified lawyer, is a career politician.
He first gained office as a Manukau City Councillor for the Otara ward in 1992, a position he held till 2004 when he made an unsuccessful tilt for the Manukau mayoralty.
Three years later in 2007 he ran again and won the Manukau mayoralty. That lead to his campaign against John Banks for the super city mayoralty in the wake of Auckland's amalgamation into the country's single biggest city.
Coincidentally on the day the Brown scandal broke, his rival from that campaign, Banks, was in court for his own scandal about election funding involving Kim Dotcom. He was sitting in court reading about the Brown scandal today.
Brown was elected on a platform of improving public transport and has been widely regarded as being successful on that front, winning major concessions from the Government to bank rail plans.
His says his vision is for Auckland to be the world's most liveable city.
He was a co-founder of the Otara Fleamarket, and later the innovative Otara Health community service, the Howick Free Legal Service, and the East Tamaki Business Association.
On May 31, 2008, he suffered a heart attack while on stage at a music awards ceremony. After bypass surgery he revealed it was a previously unrecognised congenital heart problem. His mother died from a heart attack at 47.
He was a partner with legal firm Wynyard Wood while wife, Shan Inglis, is a partner in another Auckland law firm. They have three daughters and a grandson.