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John Campbell: Spirit of the City

Apr 10, 2015 Film & TV

This story first appeared in the December 2013 issue of Metro. 

Metro’s 2013 Aucklander of the Year John Campbell, watching the Auckland Marathon in Devonport, 7am November 3, 2013. Photographed by Stephen Langdon.


Len Brown was our early front runner for Aucklander of the Year — re-elected as mayor, the embodiment of the zeitgeist of the city and all that — but then he got scratched. Eleanor Catton, Lydia Ko and Lorde were all on the shortlist. We were mightily impressed by Tana Umaga, coach of the Ranfurly-Shield-winning Counties-Manukau rugby team, who has sent an almost overwhelming pride galloping through the streets from Otara to Pukekohe. Dean Barker and Grant Dalton did the same for the nation, and their achievements were almost magnificent. MP Louisa Wall fronted a movement that redefined how we see ourselves, with her gay marriage bill. In the end, though, we’re giving it to John Campbell.

Does it need to be said? News and current affairs matter. They make us citizens: able to engage in debates, share our moral codes, understand and care about each other, hold our leaders to account, try to stop the terrible and celebrate the good. Be a society. This year, while many in the media have turned their backs on that, John Campbell and his team have renewed their commitment to investigative journalism and entertaining television.

His ratings are up and his infectious enthusiasm seems that way too. Campbell Live did Christchurch proud, as it has every year since the calamitous earthquakes, leading the charge on the ineptness of EQC. Yes, Campbell got snowed by John Key over the GSCB bill, but he bounced back. He caused the brain of up-and-coming minister Simon Bridges to explode. He provided memorable coverage of the America’s Cup and the anniversary of the Rugby World Cup — complete with a sublime interview with Graham Henry. He dug deep and presented clearly on Auckland transport issues, he showed us Len Brown in all his misery, and as we went to press he was stoking up the fundraising for Filipino cyclone relief.

John Campbell is our Mr Marvellous, and we salute him.


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With progressive councillors starting to score some wins under what was anticipated to be a reactionary major, Hayden Donnell asks: Has Wayne Brown gone woke?
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