Diversity and Chinese Language Week

This week is ‘New Zealand Chinese Language Week’:

New Zealand Chinese Language Week  (16-22 October) is a Kiwi-led initiative aimed at encouraging New Zealanders to discover Chinese language and culture. 

Be inspired by our supporters and meet our  “Mandarin Superstars” as they share their exciting experiences.

Check out what events are taking place in your region 16-22 October.

Find out how you can get “Asia ready” in 2017 by checking out our language learning resources.

But ‘Chinese language’ is not one thing, it is a diverse range of languages and dialects.

We don’t often refer to Romance languages, but instead to Italian, Spanish, French, plus the language that’s a derivative of these and has become widespread, English.

And some dialects of English can be nearly or wholly unintelligible to other English speaking people.

Bevan Chuang points out Chinese Language is more diverse than Mandarin

Chinese Language Week is the one week that I get very patriotic about how unilineal and narrow focus this week is.

Chuang details a number of reasons why she is frustrated that people ask her to write something in Mandarin – she is a native Cantonese speaker.

1. Mandarin is only one of many Chinese languages

The Chinese language we know are associated with ethnic Han Chinese. Within the Chinese community there are more than one ethnic group though Han Chinese make up 92% of Chinese in China and 97% in Taiwan.

Linguists note that the Chinese language is as diverse as a language family, like those of Romance languages.

There are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of Chinese, with majority speaking Mandarin (including Standard Chinese, Pekinese, Suchuanese, Dungan) but followed by Wu (including Shanghainese, Suzhounese, Wenzhounese), Min (inlcuding Fuzhounese, Hainese, Hokkien, Taiwanese, Teochew), Yue (including Cantonese and Taishanese), Gan, Xiang and Hakka.

Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible though they may share common terms. They also varies in tone and anaytic.

The Mandarin that we now know in the Western society is the Standard Chinese, which is derived from the term guānhuà (官话/官話), or “official speech”, to refer to the speech used at the Court. The term “Mandarin” is borrowed directy from Portuguese, mandarim, which is derived from the Sanskrit word mantrin, Conselor or Minister.

Before the 19th century, the standard was based on the Nanjing dialects, but later the Beijing dialect became increasingly influential, and with the dying of Qing dynasty, Beijing dialect was established as guóyǔ (国语/國語), or the “national language”.

With the Communist-ruled country, Mandarin became increasingly influential because it is seen as the standardised language, and people seems to only identify Mandarin as the only Chinese language.

2. Disrespectful to the Chinese forbearers to New Zealand

Early Chinese immigrants to New Zealand are Cantonese speakers from South China. They came from the Pearl River delta area in Guangdong province. Most (67%) were from Panyu county; the rest were from Siyi, Zengcheng, Dongguan and Zhongshan. These counties are located around the city of Canton (Guangzhou).

New Zealand was one of the three countries that place a poll tax on the Chinese immigrants. In 2002, former Prime Minister Helen Clark formally apologised to the Chinese Poll Tax descendents and subsequently the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust was formed.

One of the key focus of the Trust is to promote learning and the use of the Cantonese language, the language of the forbearers. Supporting the descendents to hold on to their language and culture of their ancestors.

Very different to the many Language Weeks we have in New Zealand, the Chinese Language Week is not about ensuring the language of our ancestors will live on, but this is purely about increasing trade.

3. Not celebrating diversity

Chinese, both the language and the people, are very diverse. We are not able to address and celebrate the diversity and yet lumped together as one. This also helps support the Chinese government’s plan to diminish dialects by only promoting Mandarin as the only Chinese language.

The United Nations have acknowledged that the Chinese language is becoming less diverse, and over 100 languages are in danger of dying out. Even Shanghainese, one of the many “Mandarin” dialects, is in fear of dying out. Just Google “Dying Chinese Language” and you will find pages of search results related to the concern that the Mandarin policy is killing the other languages. The killing of these languages are more than just a language, but the culture and history.

What can we do

One day, I hope, that the Chinese Language Week actually celebrates the history and diversity of all Chinese language and promote the use of Chinese as a whole, not focusing only in Mandarin. Even here in New Zealand, there are two main dialects.

According to the last Census, 52,263 people spoke Northern Chinese which includes Mandarin, 44,625 spoke Yue that includes Cantonese and 42,750 spoke a “Sinitic” language.

New Zealand is becoming increasingly diverse, and ethnic Chinese are becoming a larger part of our mix.

And within the ethnic Chinese population there is also diversity beyond simply immigrants and those born here and with as long a connection to New Zealand as many of us.

We are familiar with recognising distinct differences between English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish even though they share a common language.

In New Zealand they share many things in common, while some retain some cultural practices as well. That is usually celebrated.

Ethnicity, culture and language have never been simple and separable.

The same should apply to the diversity of ethnic Chinese now living here. They accept aspects of our culture (actually cultures) while retaining some of there own if they wish. Language is one part of that.

Food is another – Chinese options have become much more diverse here in my lifetime. I don’t know where I could still find chicken, rice and mixed vegetables – with buttered bread soaked in Worcester Sauce for an entree.

We may have no interest in learning one of the Chinese languages, that’s a lot more challenging than scoffing sweet and sour wantons or egg foo young, but we can at least recognise the diversity of Chinese language as well as cuisine.


What is Palino thinking?

John Palino is expected to launch his second attempt at the Auckland mayoralty today.

He has some major association  problems to overcome.

He gave an interview to Fairfax and not surprisingly wants to put the debacle that followed his election loss in 2013 behind him.

John Palino: why it’s time to forget about Len Brown’s sex scandal

But let’s rewind to that kaBOOM – the detonation that appeared to destroy Palino, American-born restaurateur, TV personality and entrepreneur who’d picked up a handy 109,000 votes against Brown’s 164,000.

Palino looked a villain because it seemed kinda obvious he must have played a part: Wewege was his guy; Brown’s downfall could benefit him. More damningly, Chuang said just after the election, and just before she blabbed to Cook, she met Palino on a Mission Bay carpark and the pair talked for 90 minutes about the affair and how it might still be used to force Brown to step down. She said Palino offered her a job on his team. It sounded really bad.

Except, says Palino, it wasn’t true and he wants to set the record straight.

“I had nothing to do with it. I didn’t have sex with someone. I’m an innocent bystander who said I’ve got nothing to do with it. I’m sick and tired of the lies that I’m hearing.”

Except that even if the record is set straight and Palino was totally uninvolved in the Len Brown affair and the attempt to depose Brown just after he’d won an election he has some awkward things to try and explain.

He has plans to fix Auckland’s congestion, housing affordability, city intensification, unemployment, corruption – the works. He’s not a politician but that’s a good thing, and he knows about leadership: “I believe in hiring the right people for the job. The mayor is about managing those people.”

But his management of people he hired for his last campaign, Wewege and Chuang, raise serious questions about his ability to hire the right people for the job. Wegege was in a relationship with Chuang who had been in a relationship with Palino’s opponent.

And Wewege seems to have to encouraged Chuang to go public via Whale Oil to try and overturn a democratic result.

Won’t he get bogged down answering questions about Wewege? About Mission Bay and Chuang? About the culture within his last campaign? Three years ago commentators said his reputation was shot, so what’s changed? Or to put it another way: John Palino, are you fricken serious?

What has changed?

His campaign manager is changing. Last time it was John Slater. This time Palino has taken on

In light of that, here’s an interesting fact: Palino’s new campaign manager is Simon Lusk. (It’s Lusk, Palino presumes, who got Cameron Slater to approach Fairfax about this interview.)

Lusk’s critics see him as unapologetic avatar of the dirtiest of politics. His own website boasts of a track record working “behind the scenes” to “remove” MPs and councillors who have “caused problems”. Is Lusk the person Palino needs while still shrugging off his alleged connection to a famous smear campaign?

“I need good people and he’s good at what he does,” says Palino. “But I don’t want any dirty politics. It’s not me.

If someone wanted to separate themselves from dirty politics I’d have thought that some of the last people you would choose to associate with would be Lusk and Cameron Slater.

“I need to make sure my team doesn’t do things like that. It’s up to me.”

Who has ever succeeded in making sure Slater didn’t play dirty. He brags about how dirty he is, how dirty politics is and should be, and how no one controls what he does.

Palino may genuinely want clean but if so it’s extremely hard to fathom why he would choose some of the dirtiest political operators in New Zealand without being aware of the difficulty that would create for his campaign.

If Palino is intelligent he must know this. Has he been sucked in by Lusk and Slater? Or is his campaign some sort of very deliberate, cunning plan.

If it involves Slater’s cunning then Auckland could be in for a train wreck mayoralty campaign. How many people have been let down by him?

Update: And it’s been claimed that Carrick Graham is managing Palino’s launch today.


Brown a repeat cheat and liar

Len Brown can’t be trusted. He is a repeat cheat and liar.

As mayor of Manukau he cheated with his credit card. He said he wouldn’t cheat again, but as mayor of Auckland he has now cheated on his phone use.

He has failed to account for a trip to Hong Kong in January.

He has failed to account for gifts including free hotel rooms.

He has lied about a number of things, only admitting accusations once proof makes continued lies impossible.

More of his claims and denials may yet be found to be lies. The biggest problem is that the public can have no confidence in Brown’s word. He can’t be trusted. I think that’s an untenable situation for a mayor.

Brown admits he “is not perfect” but has a job to do as mayor of Auckland. I think he’s too compromised to continue.

As well as cheating on Manukau council and on Auckland council Brown cheated on his first wife. And he cheated on his current wife.

While I agree that marital affairs are normally personal issues Brown involved his affair with Bevan Chuang with his job as mayor – bonking in his office and in other council offices, not reporting phone use as he is required, not reporting hotel freebies as he is required and compromising his decision making as a mayor.

Brown has tried to explain his affair with Chuang as ‘a mistake”. That’s a gross misrepresentation. It was a series of many personal and mayoral mistakes over two years.

A number of times Brown has implied or stated there is nothing worse, nothing more to reveal.

There have been claims Brown has had other affairs. If he has lied about that it is a very public issue, because it would mean he has lied to the public, again.

Brown needs to be asked to front up on whether there were more affairs. If the claims are false he should make it clear that they are wrong. So far he has failed to do that.

As mayor he cannot continue to avoid being open and truthful. Trust in Brown is already severely compromised.

And he has not yet owned up to the severity of his serial lying and cheating.

NZ Herald report:

Mr Brown has never apologised to the council for the two-year affair and showed little remorse on Friday when his free hotel rooms and upgrades were revealed.

Newstalk ZB report Len Brown “still has questions to answer”:

Len Brown is hoping Aucklanders will consider his conduct, including extensive personal use of a council cellphone, in context.

The Mayor thinks he’s done nothing wrong, and says the rules aren’t clear.

“There are differences of opinion, interpretation, and upgrades issue around gifting, the phone utilization, some of the stuff around my car.

“There hasn’t been a real clarity around that when there needs to be, and learnings.”

Len Brown says an overhaul of the issues will make the rules more clear.

No remorse. No proper apology. No good as mayor.

Brown report

@FrancesCook and others tweeting on the release of the Ernst Young report on Len Brown and Bevan Chuang…

Len Brown received 9 complimentary hotel rooms which he didn’t declare, worth $6130. 64 undeclared hotel upgrades, worth $32888.

No expenses incurred by council that related to the mayor’s relationship with Bevan Chuang.

Report notes they were unable to identify the council security guard who allegedly interrupted Len Brown and Bevan Chuang having sex.

The mayor used his council provided phone to make 1375 calls and texts to Chuang between 19 nov 2010 and 21 Oct 2013.

No wonder he tried to suppress this information.

NZ Herald reports Len Brown received complimentary hotel rooms

The mayor received nine complimentary hotel rooms valued at about $6130 during his affair with Bevan Chuang, a report has found.

He also received free hotel upgrades that were not declared as gifts, Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay said.

The review found mayor Mr Brown didn’t show any improper favourable treatment towards Ms Chuang, including the reference he provided for her job at Auckland Art Gallery.

There were some instances where council policies weren’t met, such as the amount Mr Brown reimbursed for his personal mobile use and transportation when he was out of town.

More tweets:

The cost of the review will be in excess of $100,000 #lenbrown… More than 1million emails reviewed

Len Brown at very least can’t now take part in any decision making re SkyCity Convn Centre (which he previously pledged “total” support for)
I’m having a hard time seeing how Len Brown can stay on. #FreeStuff #HotelRooms

So Len, about that “Full disclosure” you previously made

List of hotels:


$39,018.50 undeclared gifts by Mayor Len Brown, but chief exec Doug McKay says there’s no punishment, up to individuals to declare.

Medie release from Len Brown:

News Release

13 December 2013

Statement from Mayor Len Brown in response to Ernst & Young report

“I welcome the findings of a report from accountancy firm Ernst & Young into the use of council resources in the mayoral office.

“The report confirms my assurances to the Chief Executive that I did not misuse council resources in connection to Bevan Chuang, and nor did she receive preferential treatment in relation to her engagement as an employee of Auckland Art Gallery.

“The report includes details in relation to my, and my family’s, private use of accommodation that are not within the scope of the investigation but that I need to address.  

“The report notes that over a three-year period I, and my family, stayed privately in hotels in central Auckland on a number of occasions. The arrangements for these hotels were made privately in most cases, and in all cases payment was made privately.

“My reason for staying in the central city is that I often work until late in the evening – attending meetings, functions or civic events – and I start work early the next morning, often for media interviews or breakfast events. A significant number of these rooms were also booked and used privately by me and my family.

“I was not charged for nine of these hotel rooms, including one occasion in relation to Ms Chuang.

“As the report notes, I never used council resources for private accommodation or in relation to Ms Chuang, and I do not hold a council credit card.

“However, I accept that as Mayor I am subject to a higher standard of public accountability, and in this context I should not have accepted the free rooms offered to me, and should have disclosed this fact when I was asked about it in October.

“This was an error of judgement and I apologise to the people of Auckland.

“I remain totally focussed on the issues that matter most to Aucklanders, including improving our transport system, tackling Auckland’s housing crisis and continuing to invest in our future.”

“…should have disclosed this fact when I was asked about it in October” means Brown lied?

Chief Executive statement: EY Independent Review

Friday, 13 December 2013, 3:44 pm
Press Release: Auckland Council

Chief Executive statement: EY Independent Review

Doug McKay

Chief Executive, Auckland Council

13 December 2013

The EY report released today summarises the findings of their review into the use of council resources and any improper preferential employment treatment, as it relates to the Mayor’s relationship with Ms Bevan Chuang. I commissioned EY to undertake the review to address concerns that had been raised.

This has been an exhaustive and comprehensive review. It addresses the issues that had been raised and I am satisfied that EY has delivered a robust and thorough report.

EY was asked to examine:

• any use of council resources within the Office of the Mayor, in respect of the Mayor’s relationship with Ms Chuang, that contravenes council policies;

• any improper preferential treatment in relation to Ms Chuang’s engagement as an employee, contractor or an advisor within the Auckland Council Group; and

• any other issues that the reviewers or Chief Executive considers relate to, or arise out of, the above matters.

The review covered the period from the council’s amalgamation on 1 November 2010 to the commissioning of the review on 21 October 2013. EY’s findings are based on a factual and evidence-based review of the Mayor’s use of council resources as it relates to council policies and processes and, where appropriate, external obligations. EY has conclusively addressed the terms of reference of the review.

EY found that the Mayor did not inappropriately use council resources to support the relationship with Ms Chuang. EY examined the use of council phones, credit cards, expense claims, gifts, mayoral car use and travel. Any use, where it existed, was generally within the permitted guidelines and policies. EY did not find any expense claims funded by council to purchase gifts, accommodation, meals or entertainment as they relate to Ms Chuang.

Arising out of the review, EY found that there were some instances where the relevant council policies were not fully met, or the use of resources raised questions. These include, the amount the Mayor reimbursed to council for costs incurred for personal mobile usage, the Mayoral driver used for private family transportation when the Mayor was overseas, and the payment by council of a portion of a modest overseas dinner that was arguably private.

EY found the Mayor received nine complimentary hotel rooms that have not been registered as gifts or disclosed in his completed annual Declaration of Interests. EY reports the value of the complimentary rooms based on rates provided by the hotels is $6,130. They also found the Mayor received hotel upgrades which have not been registered as gifts or disclosed in the Declaration of Interests. There were 64 instances valued by the hotels at $32,888.50.

EY did not identify any improper preferential treatment in relation to Ms Chuang’s employment, contracting or advisory roles within the council group.

During the course of EY’s review, I was asked about the Mayor’s trip to Hong Kong undertaken in January 2013. The Mayor was a guest of the Hong Kong Government and all costs for flights, accommodation and hotel meal expenses were funded by the Hong Kong Government. The Mayor did not claim any expenses. No staff or support services, such as a translator, accompanied the Mayor.

I am now satisfied that the EY’s report has addressed the concerns raised with me. I would like to thank EY for completing this review and all the parties that assisted them. 

Full review (PDF)

Brown will be interviewed by John Campbell tonight on Campbell Live.

Len Brown received complimentary hotel rooms and upgrades worth more than $38k during his affair with Bevan Chuang. Do you think he should now step down as Auckland Mayor? Tonight, a one-on-one interview.

Brown, Chuang and the job reference

Debate continues about the reference Len Brown gave Bevan Chuang that helped her get a job earlier in their relationship.

Brown helped Chuang get a job

Auckland Mayor Len Brown provided his eventual mistress with help to get a job with an Auckland Council subsidiary, at the same time as she says he was trying to establish a sexual relationship with her.

Bevan Chuang, who had an affair with Brown for two years, used the mayor as a reference on her CV in an application for a job at the Auckland Art Gallery.

On 4 July 2011 Brown’s office was contacted by the gallery, a subsidiary of the Auckland Council, and asked if the mayor could provide a reference for her application, according to the mayor’s office.

The mayor’s diary officer was asked to provide a short response to say that the mayor highly recommended Chuang.

Chuang was given the position at the art gallery.

The reference was provided before the sexual relationship had started but Brown had already begun sexual advances towards Chuang, according to an affidavit she had published on the affair.

He first met Chuang in May 2011 after which Brown began regularly contacting her, texting her twice a day and calling her up to five times a week, according to Chuang.

The pair began having closed door meetings and it was during one of those meetings in June that Brown kissed Chuang, she said.

His office provided the reference in July and his advances continued until a sexual relationship began shortly after her birthday in August.

NZ Herald:

“The Mayor’s office was contacted by email by the Auckland Art Gallery on July 4, 2011 and asked to provide a reference in relation to the application.

“On July 5, at the Mayor’s request, the mayor’s diary manager responded by email to say that the Mayor highly recommended Bevan.

“The diary manager also asked in the email that the person call her to discuss. As the staff member left some time ago we’re not sure whether the call was returned and whether she discussed the reference further,” the statement said.

Brown provided Chuang a written reference and “highly recommended” Chuang in a phone reference.

Chuang has said that frequent contact and kissing had occurred by then. In this week’s interview she confirmed she was in a “romantic” relationship but didn’t confirm or deny it was a sexual relationship at that stage.

In her affidavit she said that kissing started in June, masturbating followed and that intercourse first occurred shortly after Chuang’s birthday in August.

A reporter asked why he wrote a letter of recommendation for Bevan Chaung for a job at Auckland Art Gallery and “Why did you abuse your position of power?”

“No I did not abuse my position of power,” he replied. “There will be many, many people around Auckland who have received similar letters of recommendation and support.”

Reporter: “But they’re not your mistress.”

Len Brown: “Yeah. And at that point in time this was very, very early in the relationship that I had with her. And so I wrote as I do for as I say many people across Auckland. And that is just a normal letter of support and reflection of what I knew of her at that time.”

It cannot be viewed as a “normal letter of support” when he was actively trying to seduce Chuang at the time.

Unless it was normal for Brown to write letters of support and highly recommend people he was trying to bonk.

The NZ Herald online poll:

Should Len Brown stand down as mayor?

  • Yes 54%
  • No 42%
  • Not sure 4%
(67100–67150 votes)

Chuang’s reference at “the very early stages of knowing each other”

Len Brown has now said that he wrote a reference for Chuang at “the very early stages of knowing each other”. He obviously wasn’t aware of Chuang’s work record.

Brown explained that “I have provided many references in supports of lots and lots of friends and people that I know” and “it was, for me, a fairly typical reference done at a time when, quite frankly, we hadn’t known each other all that long”.

Why has Brown handed out “lots and lots” references for people he doesn’t know very well? A Mayoral reference would often be seen to have quite a bit of weight on a CV – and it’s known that with the Art Gallery job a verbal reference was also given.

If Brown gives references to people he hardly knows has he made it clear how limited his knowledge is?

It seems that a Brown Mayoral reference is not something that can be taken very seriously when evaluating suitability for employment.

Reference from NZ Herald:

Was it an abuse of power to provide a reference for Bevan Chuang?

It was the very early stages of us knowing each other. I have provided many references in supports of lots and lots of friends and people that I know. The letter of support I wrote was a reasonable letter. I tend to be quite positive in my writing for the many people I write references for. It wasn’t a reference that was requested or provided for that was out of the norm. It was, for me, a fairly typical reference done at a time when, quite frankly, we hadn’t known each other all that long.

Brown says similar in a Fairfax/Stuff at just after the 13 minutes in this interview.

Len Brown’s reference for Bevan Chuang is one of the subjects of the council inquiry into their affair.

John Palino denial

John Palino has put out a statement denying he has tried to sabotage Len Brown’s mayoralty.

I have no comment to make on Mayor’s personal life – Palino

Saturday, 19 October, 2013 – 16:33

“I have just completed a very long and intensive campaign for the Auckland mayoralty in which I poured my heart and soul into providing residents with an alternative pathway for Auckland.

“To find myself now the principle target of those seeking to divert attention from Mayor Brown when I am trying to catch my breath is frustrating and upsetting.

“I have no comment to make, nor have ever made any comment, on the personal life of the Mayor.

“I have not once since I found out of their affair come out and sought to make political capital out of the Mayor’s misery.

“Len and I fought a clean campaign, a campaign based on issues and a campaign based on integrity. To see things subsequently degenerate the way they have is extraordinarily disappointing.

“The first time I became aware that Bevan and Len were in a sexual relationship was last Tuesday following the release of the affidavit.

“I did meet with Bevan – at her request – following the election in relation to threatening texts we had both received from the same phone number.

“Bevan has never disclosed to me the full nature of her relationship with the Mayor and only ever indicated she received persistent and unwanted propositions from the Mayor.

“On the basis of this understanding, I advised her not to go public and, as reported in the Herald, told her it would not be published anyway.

“Suggestions now that I, an entrepreneur, TV personality and political novice, am somehow orchestrating some grand right wing conspiracy to unseat Len after the election are so wrong and so absurd they do not stand up to even the remotest test of common sense.

“It simply makes no sense that I would wait until after losing an election I was always predicted to lose before releasing damaging information on the Mayor.

“It makes no sense that I would lose an election, subsequently generate a scandal and make no attempt to benefit politically from it.

“It makes no sense that I would have associated with someone on my campaign that I knew was sleeping with the Mayor.

“It makes no sense that I would have advised Bevan that a full-blown Mayoral affair would not be published.

“None of this makes any sense and to see the media so easily manipulated by people protecting the Mayor is an indictment on our democracy,” said Palino.


I think the Palino attackers need to come up with proof of their insinuations and accusations or this should put Palino out of the spotlight.

Len Brown needs to make a full and frank statement. Until he does that his mayoralty will be hobbled by his own silence.

Brown roundup

The Len Brown story continues to get a lot of coverage as the clusterfuck continues, it’s hard to see anyone involved coming out of this with reputation’s intact. And to accentuate the Auckland falls from grace ex-mayor and now Act MP John Banks adds to the super city malaise.

NZ Herald leads this morning with a ‘revelation’ of what is unsurprising.

Palino met with Brown’s lover

John Palino met Len Brown’s former mistress for a late-night discussion in a Mission Bay car park the night after the mayoral election and just two days before the affair was made public.

Bevan Chuang claims Mr Palino’s camp raised the possibility that Mr Brown could be shamed into resigning the mayoralty.

When news of the scandal broke on Tuesday, Mr Palino denied any knowledge of the affair. But he met Ms Chuang on Sunday, October 13 – the day after the election.

Also unsurprising:

Last night, Mr Palino’s campaign manager, John Slater, confirmed a meeting had taken place, but said it was just a “general chit-chat”.

It would have been unusual if Palino had not been had some involvement and Slater (senior) did not know something about what was going on.

Herald opinion writers wade in as well.

John Armstrong:

Brown’s mea culpa absolutely woeful

For his part, Brown is surely now ensconced in Last Chance Saloon and just one step removed from being forced to resign.

Should one further Brown-instigated or approved favour to former paramour Bevan Chuang, which has an Auckland Council connection, emerge from the woodwork then he has to go.

Brian Edwards:

That mayor culpa had better be all, Len

Len Brown is in something more than a bit of trouble, and I’d give him the same advice Mike gave to me.

Faced with this immediate crisis, however, the Auckland mayor’s only option was to be straightforward, tell the truth and admit the error of his ways.

It seems to me that’s more or less what he’s done. But the “more or less” may be the sticking point.

In a crisis like this, involving personal morality, “more or less the truth” wasn’t enough; it had to be the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Further revelations will pile pressure upon pressure for Brown. He may cling to his coveted mayoralty but diminishing credibility will make it very difficult to do a decent job.

Fran O’Sullivan:

Two men with their backs against wall

Brown’s instinct is to hunker down and try to ride out the media storm.

He is being helped by the drip-feed of revelations about the role his former lover’s buddies in the Palino camp played in his outing.

These revelations have made Brown a figure of fun. But there is also a sinister element to them. Particularly the pressure which Bevan Chuang claims was put on her by Palino’s PR man (one of her other lovers) to try and get her to entrap Brown in making “dirty talk” on the phone.

There should be a proper wide-ranging council inquiry into whether Brown abused rules by creating favours for Chuang.

Not simply an inquiry put in place by the chief executive.

Once the inquiry reports, Brown should stand down and call for another election where voters can either accept him or reject him in the knowledge they have all facts on the table.

Tracy Watkins (Stuff):

Brown-Chuang affair has MPs wary

Like a nuclear mushroom cloud, the toxic fallout from the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang affair is enveloping everyone within its radius.

No-one will come out of this kiss-and-tell well – not the mayor, his former mistress, those who broke the story on the Whale Oil blog or the mayoral rival who has now also been damaged by the actions of an over-ambitious supporter.

Blogs continue very active comments. There will no doubt be more on Whale Oil today (access can be patchy).

Also with ongoing discussions:

Public Address: Hard News: Everybody’s Machiavelli

Kiwiblog: Nasty Rudman

The Standard:

Whale Oil responds including major but vague allegations and a promise of more to come – Rapid Fire Q+A on Len Brown story

Rob Hosking at NBR: Len Brown and the value proposition theory of political scandal

Brown/male good, Chuang/female bad?

The Len Brown affair has highlighted political double standards, and it has also raised issues of sexuality double standards. Many have claimed that Brown’s sexual life has nothing to do with his political job as mayor – but some have pointed out that Bevan Chuang has become a political untouchable.

This has as much to do with the fact that Chuang revealed the affair in sordid detail, but it raises the point that rooting around by men is excused far more readily than the women who are involved.

Comments at Kiwiblog in Campbell v Brown (largely critical of Brown) have referred to two posts at Public Address (largely supportive of Brown) – Everybody’s Machiavelli by Russell Brown and The Missing Stair Part Two: The Creeper and the Excuser by Emma Hart.


If you want to witness a bit of irony, there is a delightfully descriptive post on Public Address written by Emma Hart called “The Creeper and The Excuser” – 2 September 2013 – get it quick before it is purged.

Emma Hart describes the Creeper as a man who uses Len Browns pick up moves. Emma Hart explains how society keeps this quiet and thus allows the Creeper to form unequitable relationships with his victims. Emma Hart advocates strongly that the behaviour of Creepers should be exposed at every opportunity.

But Emma Hart then goes on to describe the other villian of the piece – the Excuser. The Excuser slut shames the victim, makes light of the abuse of power society affords the Creeper.

Bevan Chuang has come out and made a public statement that she felt used by Mayor Len Brown, who induced a one sided relationship exploiting his position of power. Exactly what Emma Hart was advocating just a month ago.

Russell Brown has written a marvellous example of slut shaming portraying Bevan Chuang as weak willed, easily manipulated fool – in fact hardly worth listening to.

Len “The Creeper” Brown is being Excused in the most delightful way.

And Emma Hart – she is talking a good deal of STFU to anyone who disagrees with Russell Brown. Good team player that she is.


I followed DPF’s link to Russell Brown’s Public Address post and came away feeling a bit dirty after reading the post and the comments. It was like I’d popped out of a time warp in the 1950s and all the people around me were members of the Misogyny Club.

Cheung may be naive and a bit eccentric. But Len Brown was the creepy old guy in a position of power who groomed and exploited her, initially using the pretext that he was interested in her work. He is entirely to blame for the situation, but the Public Address commenters think she is at fault, and she should feel shame for talking about what Brown has done rather than keeping his sleazy behaviour a secret.

Several commenters remarked that her political career is over. But not his!

He exploits a vulnerable council worker and has a few uncomfortable days and looks contrite for some weak questioning on Campbell Live. But she is the one who is apparently untouchable now, personally and professionally.

The Public Address crowd don’t have double standards… they have negative standards regarding women.

The other Brown (Russell) closes his post:

Slater has responded to the statements by declaring that Chuang must be having a breakdown. Classy.

Unfortunately for her, this scandal has also brought to light her criminal conviction for a gross breach of trust as an employee of Auckland Museum. I’ve actually been following Chuang on Twitter for a year or two, as an interesting oddball. The truth turns out to be odder than I could have imagined.

But really: these are pivotal times for the governance of Auckland. Big, important decisions about the city’s future are being made. Brown’s resignation – which, whatever good oil you heard from Duncan Garner, never seemed all that likely – would have thrown that process into disarray.

I don’t think it’s at all controversial to observe that Aucklanders deserve better than the kind of shit we’ve seen revealed in the past two days – or, indeed, the past 10 years.

Chuang was only a minor political player and Len Brown’s job as mayor is important for Auckland, no question about that, but there are hints here that male power and sexual prowess rule.

Brown/male good, Chuang/female bad?

Super city clusterfuck

The Auckland super city mayoralty is a major clusterfuck.

Len Brown has failed badly, and more failings are being revealed and alleged.

Bevan Chuang has been used and abused, but she is responsible for her own actions. She appears to be a political prostitute.

Brown’s main mayoral rival John Palino claims to have no knowledge of the Brown affair – with what appears to have been going on within his campaign he should have. If he didn’t have control he is tainted by association.

Luigi Wewege appears to have discredited himself big time, and at the very least by association he has discredited Palino. If Chuang is a prostitute Wewege can be likened to a pimp if claims made by Chuang of coercion are accurate.

Cameron Slater (Whale Oil) had a right and perhaps a duty to publicise news, but the manner of the revelations, the degree of detail provided and the disregard for collateral damage especially of Chuang are highly questionable. And while he claims to have had no collusion on this with Palino’s campaign manager – his father John – it was obvious that possible links would be presumed and alleged.

While the focus is on local body politics in Auckland there are a number of interconnections with national politics.

This super city clusterfuck is a super sullying of democracy in Auckland and New Zealand.

No wonder more and more people are turned off voting and participating in democracy.

If Brown stood down and there was another election for mayor of Auckland would any decent, capable people want to be involved by putting themselves forward?

Any re-election would more likely be a cluster of vultures scrapping over the carcass of Auckland’s democracy.