Auckland mayor Wayne Brown has apologised for his “drongo” comment about journalists, but defended his decision to stop other councillors speaking out on the night of the devastating floods.
In an interview with Newshub’s AM this morning, Brown admitted he shouldn’t have called the media drongos, adding that he will never be a “smooth-talking politician”.
He added: “I do need to improve my communication… I probably shouldn’t have said the word drongo to a couple of friends of mine but I was just explaining why I couldn’t turn up to tennis that particular day.”
The fact it was made public was regrettable, said Brown, and he recognised the role the media played during an emergency.
Meanwhile, leaked emails yesterday showed councillors were told to stop publicly communicating on Friday, with the mayor requesting “all communications remain clear and consistent, we need to speak with one voice”.
That was criticised by some councillors who said it amounted to a gag-order. But Brown told Newshub that region-wide communications should come from the mayor’s office. “I’ve encouraged local members to be vocal within their community as much as they want and about their local issues and fed those back into us,” he said.
Brown has been reluctant to speak to many media outlets since the emergency broke out. He said he accepted Newshub’s request for comment because it was the first time there had been enough of a break in the weather for him to have spare time. “There’s been an awful lot of emergency coordinating to be doing and there just hasn’t been time to deal with some of these issues. I know it’s important that i have a good working relationship with the media, but my time has been grabbed with emergency situations.”
The city and his office were now focused on the clean-up and preparing for any future downpours, said Brown.
Also during today’s interview, Brown said he had been made aware of people in apartment buildings, including some elderly, that had become isolated during flood-related damage. “Just yesterday it came to our attention that there were a number of people in multi-storey apartment buildings who are kind of, semi-isolated because, although there’s no damage to the building, there are over 200 lifts not working in Auckland city and some are elderly people who are up quite a few storeys and that had been missed by the welfare and the emergency people,” Brown said.
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