Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau put out a statement today saying:
I was elected as Mayor on the platform of transformational change, where I can make a difference, represent a different type of politics and of course, represent different communities.
I am not a career politician, and leadership positions in public office are not built for regular people who may have struggles with addiction, mental ill health, or any other illness that has stigma attached. We have seen this play out with career ending moments from politicians across the political spectrum in recent times.
I did not engage in any sexual activity as alleged, but I do have a problem with alcohol. After an incident where I was drunk in public, which to my great embarrassment and shame seems to have been recorded, I sought counsel from my friends, family and colleagues and have since sought professional help.
I am a flawed person, but I care deeply about this city. I will continue to represent the hopes and aspirations of my local community and I will do so with the compassion and care of those around me and with the professional help required.
I would like to say to others struggling with alcohol issues that you can seek help and still commit to your passions, work, family, friends in a way that is meaningful. We are complex, layered people and deserving of love.
I would appreciate respect and care from the media whilst navigating this period of sobriety and professional support.
In July Tory Whanau was accused of being drunk, walking out without paying and saying “Don't you know who I am”. She “strenuously” denied she was drunk or behaved badly.
Now she has said she does have a problem with alcohol, but only after media approached her regarding a video of allegedly drunken antics, and asked her extremely direct questions. Rather than answer the questions, she has done a press release.
National List MP Aaron Gilmore was forced out of Parliament over alleged behaviour with alcohol that was far less serious that what is alleged here.
The Mayor recently supported a Code of Conduct complaint against a third of her own Council. Of interest the Code states:
Members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questioned, should not behave improperly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.
Should a Councillor lodge a code complaint against the Mayor? I don't think they should as I hate code of conduct complaints, but she has not been shy to use them herself.
Of course there is no mechanism to make a Mayor resign. The Council can't sack a Mayor, and the Minister can't sack them (only an entire Council).
Only 23 months until the next local elections!