Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown's diary almost empty day Auckland hit by worst flooding in history

By Ben Strang RNZ

On the day Auckland was hit by the worst flooding event in recorded history, and the city's mayor came under fire for his inaction, Wayne Brown's diary was an empty slate.

Released under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, Brown's diary had only one item on 27 January - an unspecified Teams meeting at 7pm.

But according to a spokesperson for the mayor, that meeting was merely a placeholder, "created by admin for IT purposes".

Auckland's mayor was heavily criticised on the night of the flooding and in the week after for his inaction as the rain fell.

Political leaders were calling for Brown to declare a state of emergency in Auckland as people were being flooded out of their homes, and four people eventually died.

Brown only made that call after 9pm, about five hours after the flooding started to hit several suburbs of Auckland.

"I dropped the ball on Friday," Brown said a week after the flooding.

"I was too slow to be seen. The communications weren't fast enough, including mine. I am sorry."

RNZ asked Brown what work he was doing on 27 January, when his diary was empty.

A spokesperson responded saying "the events of the first 24 to 28 hours of the major weather event that began on Friday 27 January 2023 will be covered in an independent review of the immediate emergency response".

They gave no information on what mayoral work Brown might have been doing.

It is known that Brown had planned to play tennis on the morning of 27 January, but that was hampered by rain. The planned tennis match was not listed in Brown's mayoral diary.

Brown has said he was in his office by 4pm, but he was not receiving updates on the weather from Emergency Management because he was not on the mailing list.

The day before the weather hit Auckland, Brown had 10 appointments, such as a review of a communication and engagement plan attended by members of his communications and strategy team, such as PR manager, Mapihi Opai, head of policy and communications, Matthew Hooton, and his mayoral campaign manager, Chris Matthews.

On 28 January, Brown had two official events listed in his diary, both weather-related, and there were five events listed for 29 January, again, all weather-related.