Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau spoke exclusively to state-subsidised legacy media outlet NZ Herald for the first time since the ‘Havana Bar incident’.
Whanau told NZ Herald she had committed to giving up alcohol completely after having acknowledged publicly that she has a drinking problem. She described the acknowledgment as a ‘huge weight’ off her shoulders.
‘It’s similar to the experience of others who go through this. Once they can admit something like that to themselves, and get professional help, and then letting others in to support you, it’s a very lifting experience.’
Rumours of video footage from the Havana Bar incident in November were circulating on social media, but as yet neither she nor NZ Herald staff had seen it. Nevertheless she told the newspaper there wasn’t, ‘an incident that I was embarrassed about, it was more that my personal journey has been made public and that in itself was quite challenging for me. But at the same time, I’m glad that I have been honest with Wellington.’
Whanau rejected calls for her resignation, saying, ‘While me and others need to lift our game, make no mistake about that, I remain a committed, passionate and enthusiastic mayor for the city. It’s [the mayoralty] just not something that I’m willing to give up.’