Verve magazine – October 2012 – By Cameron Brewer – Councillor for Orakei:
Local MP John Banks is a great Aucklander. All the stones have been unturned and it’s now time to give our old Mayor a break.
John’s done some great things for our city over many years. It was largely because of John Banks why Westfield didn’t build a megamall over Nuffield Street. I was his press secretary at the time and he literally locked the then Singaporean-owners of Two Double Seven and Westfield in his office until they resolved their battle over Broadway. The end result was that Westfield bought the Newmarket shopping mall and dropped their over-the-top plans for Nuffield Street.
The other day I asked CEO of Watercare Mark Ford why the Eastern Bays beaches had not been forced closed for a couple of years because of sewerage overflows which used to be a common occurrence. He said it was because of the decision taken a decade ago to replace and bury the Hobson Bay sewer pipe and improve capacity. That decision was made by Banks and his C&R-led council.
Another great thing that John did when he was Mayor was that he encouraged Peter Cooper to sign the long-term lease to redevelop all those Victorian warehouses around Britomart. Given what’s happened to other Auckland developers in recent years, getting the Kiwi-born but internationally renowned Cooper to oversee the aboveground Britomart transformation has proven to be a masterstroke. I could go on.
As parliamentary employees in the National Party Research Unit in the late 1990s we used to love listening to him on Radio Pacific and reporting to his caucus colleagues what he was up to. For some reason I was thrilled when he turned up to my birthday morning tea with a signed photo of himself taken about 15 years earlier. He’s a very funny man.
John gave me my first break in Auckland in 2002. He was the newly elected Mayor and he appointed me to be his mayoral press secretary. They were tumultuous years with the proposed Eastern Corridor, selling pensioner housing to the Government and reducing the city’s share in the airport. Nonetheless this dogged politician completely eliminated council debt. Contrast that to a decade later, where council debt is growing by $3m a day or $1b a year.
John Banks has done a lot for his city and country over four decades. He’s one of the last characters left in Wellington and characters are often easy pickings.
The opening of the redeveloped Lumsden Green, Newmarket in 2010: Then Auckland City Mayor Hon John Banks, former Mayor of Newmarket (1974 -89) David Lumsden, and Cameron Brewer – then CEO of the Newmarket Business Association.