Local elections: Auckland mayoral candidates Efeso Collins and Wayne Brown show different leadership styles in head-to-head

Aucklanders are deciding between two very different leadership styles for mayor.

Auckland's two leading candidates Efeso Collins and Wayne Brown went head-to-head in Newshub Nation's mayoral debate.

Commentators found Brown was an "unconventional" candidate while former National Party leader Simon Bridges said Collins was "the status-quo" candidate.

Speaking on Newshub Nation's political panel, Bridges labelled Collins a "polished performer" and Brown a "rough diamond".

NBR senior journalist Dita de Boni said Brown has put himself across as a "technocrat" who will cut agencies, while she thinks the mayor needs to be the "visionary voice of the city".

But Bridges said while not everyone may like his style Brown has aligned himself as a fixer.

NZ Herald senior writer Simon Wilson said the big question now is about how the city evolves out of COVID-19, continues to build infrastructure and supports climate change action. He said this election is about who, as the mayor, is going to be able to develop and keep the team going to keep those things going.

So where do the two candidates stand on Aucklanders' most pressing issues?


The two candidates have very different approaches toward crime. Brown is calling for harsher punishments for youth offenders, while Collins said that's not the answer.

"To go hard on crime, we have to go hard on poverty," Collins said.

"To go hard on crime, we have to go hard on poverty."
"To go hard on crime, we have to go hard on poverty." Photo credit: Facebook

Collins said we need to take a community-wide preventative approach towards crime.

He said we need to work with the Ministry of Social Development to increase youth workers, social workers and community constables, as well as the Indian, Māori and Pacific wardens that we've got.

"This isn't just giving it off and contracting it out to private security, this is getting the community involved," Collins said.

He said increasing community constables will not only make communities feel safer but also identify families that need support.

Brown said Auckland mayors have the power to tell the Prime Minister and relevant ministers that they need to "do better".

He said while mayors do not pass rules about justice, we need to be "hard-nosed" and sanction younger people when they are caught doing crimes.

Brown said there need to be changes to youth punishment but when asked what changes he would implement, Brown said it is up to the Government to decide.

Brown also said there are practical steps that can be taken such as increasing security patrols, including private security, and tidying up the streets and making sure there are street numbers on the shop's fronts so people know where they are when something happens.


Both candidates want to turn empty buildings into housing.

Collins said we should go to homeowners of 'ghost houses' and invite them to consider working with community housing providers and getting those houses onto the rental market.  

"Rather than just have them there as an asset that's going to make you money when you sell it off in five years' time. Let's actually take some social community responsibility," Collins said.

He doesn't want a ghost housing tax and forcing owners to be community housing providers, he wants to work with homeowners to understand the housing shortage challenges Auckland is facing.

"I think people want to show a level of community spirit and they'll be one to the idea."

Brown's idea was to target commercial businesses rather than homeowners.

He wants to turn over the 40 percent of business of commercial properties in the city that are currently sitting empty to apartments.

"You can't tell people to rent their bed just to anybody. They'll know about that market there and they've chosen not to go into it, whereas the people who own office buildings want people in them," Brown said.


Brown wants contractors to drastically reduce their street presence and possibly pay for it.

"They invade the space without care or cost and they take up way more than they need," he said.

Brown is an infrastructure engineer and said everything is taking "too long and costing too much", challenging the council that he can do everything quicker and cheaper.

He said we need to repeat what has been done successfully before, such as getting on with repeating the Northern Bus Way in the east and west.

"They invade the space without care or cost and they take up way more than they need."
"They invade the space without care or cost and they take up way more than they need." Photo credit: Fix Auckland

Collins wants to bring the building of the second harbour bridge forward and supports a cycle lane trial over the Harbour Bridge.

"We've got to look at all forms of trams for all modes and I think that's going to make a real difference."

Collins also wants a rapid transit network through to the north-west to get people through there quicker.

Despite tensions running high, both candidates did agree on one thing.

Collins and Brown said despite going head-to-head they have developed a comradery and may grab a few beers together once the race is over.

Watch the full debate above.