Auckland Future should not blame Auckland Council’s staff

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Auckland Future’s week was, how should I put this, less then exemplary.

Whau Local Board candidate Savea Harrington’s past indiscretions received a public hearing.  From the Herald:

A man standing for office in the upcoming local elections stole the identities of dead babies to obtain fraudulent passports.

Savea Peseta Al Harrington Lavea – who is standing on a ticket to make the community “safe and prosperous” – was convicted along with his younger brother Romney Lavea of stealing the identities of seven dead children in 2008. The pair admitted seven charges of forgery and another seven of using a forged document, relating to offences that stretched back to the late 1990s. Lavea, then a community advisor in Papatoetoe, was sentenced to six months’ home detention and ordered to pay $5000 for reparation for emotional harm.

Now he is standing as candidate on the Auckland Future ticket for a seat on the Whau Local Board.

I can’t believe how ineptly the disclosure was handled.  Auckland Future coordinator Sue Wood confirmed that the selection panel knew about the convictions.  They should have anticipated there would been controversy, after all stealing a dead baby’s identity is a pretty despicable thing to do.  And the clear anguish that the father of the baby still feels is amplifying the public feelings the disclosure has caused.

The only possible way to deal with this issue was to front foot it.  Declare it, ask for public forgiveness and seek redemption.  Say that you are ashamed of what you did and you wish to make amends by public service.  Denying any involvement and then refusing to answer questions was the worst possible thing to do.

It was inevitable this story would come out.  I heard about it a while ago.  The Samoan community is a well networked and very sophisticated community where everyone knows each other and incidents like this are not forgotten.  Having no plan to deal with the predictable firestorm is amateurish in the extreme.

This was not the only problem Auckland Future faced.  Having two candidates for one Council seat is the sort of thing that all campaign managers dread.  This is why the nomination process is so important.  There are three basic rules, check recheck and recheck the forms, get someone else to also check, and lodge the forms early so that if there are problems they can be fixed up.

It seems that all three rules were broken.  If the candidates did turn up to the Council office and filled in the forms on the spot then mistakes were almost inevitable.

Instead of accepting fault however Auckland Future have chosen to try and shift the blame on Auckland Council.  From Radio New Zealand:

Auckland Future, which is hoping to take control of the Auckland Council, is taking legal moves today to have two election candidates reinstated after paperwork blunders.

Two candidates for the National Party-backed group filled out the wrong forms, and a third withdrew after publicity over a past conviction.

Auckland Future co-ordinator Sue Wood told supporters at the campaign launch last night the blame over the two who filled out incorrect forms lay with council staff at the Manukau Service Centre who gave out the wrong paperwork.

Both blunders happened when Auckland Future’s Manukau team went in last Thursday, the second-to-last day for nominations for October’s local body elections.

One candidate, Viliami Tiseli was accidentally nominated to run against the group’s only sitting councillor Denise Krum. Tai’ivao Cruikshank also filled out the wrong form for a local board nomination, and was rejected.

Ms Wood, a former National Party president, would not comment on whether someone seeking public office should have noticed they filled in the wrong form. She said the blame lay with the council office.

“I think you’ll find, and we have prepared a legal file note, that it was very very chaotic and it was seriously understaffed,” she told RNZ.

Council work involves handling large amounts of paper and having to be able to digest the contents quickly.  Filling in the wrong forms does not raise confidence that the candidate has the necessary attributes to do the job.

And the forms are not that complicated.  The nomination forms are colour coded and have either “Ward of Auckland Council” or “Local Board” in different variations four times on the front page.

Sue Wood chose to criticise Auckland Council’s Manukau Staff as well as the Henderson Staff for problems.  All I can say is that turning up at the last minute, asking for the forms and filling them out on the spot, if this is what occurred, is asking for mistakes to be made.

As to the criticism of the Henderson staff I filed ten nomination forms there.  I went to the office on Tuesday afternoon, and the filing was completed efficiently and correctly by the very helpful staff.  There was a hiccup involving that office in that 25 late filed applications were not publicly notified until Saturday but no damage has been caused and this has been rectified.

The best Auckland Future can hope for is that Mr Tiseli has no affiliation recorded against his name.  But Auckland Future will want to forget about the last week’s events as soon as possible.



  1. Ralph williams says:

    That’s are disgrace and he should stand down or be told to stand down Auckland need people with integrity and who are committed to helping people not ripping off identitys off them disgraceful

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