Auckland floods: Petition set up to remove Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown over 'unacceptable lack of leadership'

More than 6800 people have signed a petition to remove Wayne Brown as Auckland Mayor, while there are widespread calls on social media for him to resign. 

Brown has been under fire for his handling of the devastating and deadly weather that hit Auckland on Friday evening. 

Record rainfall fell all over Tāmaki Makaurau, causing flooding in pretty much every suburb. Houses, supermarkets and even Auckland Airport were flooded. 

The worst of the rain fell as commuters were trying to get home, or were leaving for the long weekend. People abandoned cars as the roads and motorways became submerged. 

There were pictures of people wading through shoulder-high water trying to escape their flooded houses. Three people died and another is still missing. 

But, despite the obvious turmoil, a state of emergency wasn't called by the Auckland mayor until 10:20pm that night. That was despite pleas for him to declare it earlier in the day. 

National leader Christopher Luxon urged him to declare a state of emergency to allow emergency services to properly respond. 

"I'm urging Mayor Wayne Brown to declare a state of emergency for Auckland now," Luxon tweeted on Friday evening. 

"This will give our brilliant emergency response teams the tools they need to respond. High tide hits after midnight and we need a list of evacuation centres for folk to head to."

Luxon wasn't the only one demanding Brown take action. Councillor Josephine Bartley also called for a state of emergency to be declared and criticised the Mayor's lack of action. 

"You just have to look online to see the chaos out there. No need to wait. 

"Declare a state of emergency," Bartley tweeted.

Bartley also tweeted an email she sent Brown urging him to declare the state of emergency. 

"I’m getting families from [the] Māngere area asking me what to do because their homes are flooded so they are in their neighbour's home with many other people, they can't get out of the street as it's flooded and family can't get in to get them out either. So they are sitting ducks. "They ring 111 and are told that emergency services are overloaded and can't get to them right now.

"Where are the evacuation sites to let people know where to go? Has Red Cross got involved so they can set up emergency welfare centres?"

Brown said at a press conference on Saturday he had signed the order at 9:30pm but it wasn't communicated until almost an hour later. 

Earlier in the night he told RNZ, "We just need the rain to stop, that's the main issue", as images of buses flooded with water driving along water-logged motorways began to emerge online. 

It wasn't just Brown who came under fire - the council and other organisations were criticised for being too slow.  

"I should only be tweeting official information from Auckland Emergency Management channels. But they haven't updated their social media in over three hours," said councillor Richard Hills. "I understand they're inundated and dealing with the immediate crisis. But people need to know where to go tonight."

Brown defended his actions in an at-times-heated press conference on Saturday.  

The Mayor faced questioning over the lack of communication, which left many Aucklanders feeling abandoned. However, Brown insisted they weren't.

"What we were doing in ensuring they were not actually abandoned. We were ensuring there were thousands of people out there and that was what I was doing... I was making sure that was taking place," he said. "There's no sense communicating things which are just your view. You have to communicate facts and the facts were coming from these people here and I'm driven by that."

The petition, on, said: "Wayne Brown's absense at the helm during the Auckland weather event has put lives at risk and has been an unacceptable lack of leadership. 

"Let's be real, it hasn't been a great run-up to this point, but this was a crucial moment for the city, and he let us down. The declaration of the state of emergency was later than the AT buses he loves to complain about.

"Resigning has some perks, he'll get more time to play tennis, and I think there's a few Aucklanders who would like to show him their backhand game."

Unsurprisingly frustrated Aucklanders took to social media to vent their frustration, where phrases such as "Wayne, Wayne go away" - a parody of the song 'Rain, Rain Go Away' - have been trending. 

PR consultant Deborah Pead called for Brown to "Stand down. You don’t have what it takes to lead our city."

The Mayor's office has been approached for comment.