Mike Lee (New Zealand politician)

Michael Lee is a former councillor on the Auckland Council from 2010 until 2019[1] and prior to it, a chairman of the former Auckland Regional Council in Auckland, New Zealand.[2] He chaired the transport committee of Auckland Council for a number of years, and sat on the board of Auckland Transport until 2016.[3]


Mike Lee
Mike Lee Being Interviewed Outside Council.jpg
Chairman of the Auckland Regional Council
In office
2004 – 31 October 2010
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Councillor, Waitematā and Gulf ward, Auckland Council
In office
31 October 2010 – 12 October 2019
Preceded byPosition created
Personal details
NationalityNew Zealand
Political partyCity Vision
Other political
Alliance Party (formerly)
WebsiteMike Lee's blog

Political careerEdit

Auckland Council
Years Ward Affiliation
2010–2013 Waitematā and Gulf Independent
2013–2016 Waitematā and Gulf Independent
20162019 Waitematā and Gulf None

Lee was first elected to the Auckland Regional Council in a by-election in 1992 and was elected chairman in 2004.[4]

He held the position of parks chairman (the council managed a number of regional parks),[5] and oversaw the acquisition of substantial further parkland by the council during his time.[4] He wrote his thesis on such matters as land titles on Hauraki Gulf islands.[6]

He counts helping to stop the privatisation of Ports of Auckland as one of his major early influences at the Regional Council.[4]

Before becoming chair of the council, Lee was at times called a 'maverick' for opposing its more conservative members.[5]

He contested the Rodney electorate in the 1996 election as an Alliance Party candidate and came second after National's Lockwood Smith.[7]

With the amalgamation of the Regional Council into the Auckland Council in 2010, he was elected in the Waitematā and Gulf ward as an inaugural councillor.[2]

He was critical of the form of the new council as created by the Fifth National Government (though he supported the creation of the council itself), and especially of the creation of large business-like council-controlled organisations (CCOs) to manage substantial parts of the council-owned assets and services at arm's length from actual council control.[8]

One of his key projects in the 2000s was successfully pushing forward the electrification of Auckland's rail network, succeeded by his support for the construction of the City Rail Link tunnel to increase the capacity of the rail system, both projects often against strong opposition from national government.[9] Lee was also instrumental in a campaign that resulted in the reopening of the Onehunga Branch rail line to passenger traffic, allowing services to begin on the Onehunga Line in 2010.[10]

Lee was re-elected in the 2016 Auckland elections, despite a challenge from Bill Ralston.[11]

Lee unexpectedly announced in late-June 2019 that he would run again for councillor in the 2019 elections, a move seen by some as splitting the centre-left vote. The City Vision ticket, which had endorsed Lee in 2016 by not fielding a candidate, had selected Pippa Coom as its candidate in March 2019 on the understanding that he would not stand again.[12][13] While running a close second, Lee lost his councillor seat to Coom in the subsequent election.[1]

Private lifeEdit

Lee was married to Sandra Lee-Vercoe. They separated in 1992.[14]

Lee completed an MSc thesis entitled New Zealand the 10,000 island archipelago at the University of Auckland in 1996 – it has not been published.[15] He spent 12 years researching and writing Navigators & Naturalists: French Exploration of New Zealand and the South Seas (1769–1824), which was published in 2018.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Mike Lee's career in local politics over: final results confirm Pippa Coom has won his seat". New Zealand Herald. 18 October 2019. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b Orsman, Bernard (12 March 2010). "First blood to left in boundary changes". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  3. ^ Hewitson, Michele (4 December 2010). "Mike Lee". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Cr Michael Lee Auckland Regional Council Chairman". Auckland Regional Council website. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Many strings pull future of historic city sanctuary". The New Zealand Herald. 10 August 2000. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  6. ^ "Ask Phoebe: Tiny isle belongs to no one". The New Zealand Herald. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  7. ^ "Electorate Candidate and Party Votes Recorded at Each Polling Place – Rodney" (PDF). Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Mike Lee: The Government is no longer listening". The New Zealand Herald. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  9. ^ "Lee hits back at minister over city rail". The New Zealand Herald. 29 September 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  10. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (21 April 2010). "Work starts at new Onehunga rail station". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Final Result" (PDF). Auckland Council. 13 October 2016. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  12. ^ "Veteran Auckland councillor Mike Lee's vote splitting decision to run again". Stuff.co.nz. 28 June 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  13. ^ "City Vision selects a fresh face for Waitematā and Gulf". City Vision. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  14. ^ Hewitson, Michele (17 December 2005). "ARC chairman keeps the reindeer galloping". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  15. ^ Cameron, Ewen (2007). "Rotoroa Island, inner Hauraki Gulf, trip report" (PDF). Auckland Botanical Society Journal. 62: 130, 135. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  16. ^ Lee, Michael (2018). Navigators & Naturalists: French Exploration of New Zealand and the South Seas (1769–1824). Auckland, New Zealand: David Bateman. ISBN 978-1-86953-965-8.

External linksEdit