Auckland mayoralty impotent. NZ Herald, Auckland.

It should be the second best job in the country - leading Auckland, the thriving beating heart of New Zealand and gateway to the world.

 So why has getting good candidates to stand for Mayor of Auckland been like waiting for Mr Godot?

 Because after you have been through the wringer any election campaign would be - mercifully under a first past the post voting system - you don't get to lead, that's why.  You get to grapple with the byzantine world of local body politics with an emphasis on local.

With national politics, once you have a mandate from the electorate you've got a fair crack at being able to implement it. The Mayor of Auckland is impotent (politically that is). They get to propose a long term plan and an annual budget. But that doesn't mean they can make it stick.

 It's interesting that Phil Goff is standing as an Independent. I have no idea if he will have the support of the Labour party machine behind him for his bid. I assume he will. This dance of the seven veils is interesting because it demonstrates what I believe to be the case.

Aucklanders want to vote for the best person to be their Mayor, so party labels, whether Labour or National, are unhelpful.

 And they want the council to make decisions in the best interests of the city without political parties or local community constituencies to answer to. Yet in 2016 we won't be voting under a system that allows us to elect the best 20 Aucklanders to be the council.

Auckland is run on a shared decision making model and that's before you factor in central Government. The governance of Auckland is one mayor and 20 members of council elected by voters from the ward they represent. There are 13 wards running from Rodney to Franklin with one to two councillors representing each ward.

 Much of Auckland's essential infrastructure is provided by Council Controlled Organisations such as Auckland Transport and Water Care which are independent but accountable to council through target setting. In addition there is another layer of governance with 149 elected members to 21 local boards within the thirteen wards.

 Sound complicated? That's because it is.

 What decision making power does the mayor actually have? Even the council website doesn't claim that it's actually that much! Decisions of council are by majority vote with the chair (usually the mayor) having the casting vote. The Auckland Council Standing Orders of the Governing Body May 2015 reads like something out of last century.

 It's true that good leadership is about more than positional power. Good leaders inspire people, walk the talk and take people with them. But not relying only on positional power is

not the same as not having it. True leadership involves being able to make decisions after getting the best input possible.

The Super City would have struggled to get up without regionally based representation. But what was a good idea then is crippling the city now. And there is no independent review mechanism.

Auckland has been getting its act together in the past few years almost despite itself. The Super City was a huge shift in the right direction. But it is time for a half-time rethink. We need a review of Auckland's governance for the good of the whole country.

It's as least as important as voting on a new flag.

Article by Theresa Gattung, NZ Herald. Photo by Brett Phibbs.