Wellington mayoral campaign inspired by father’s political legacy
Mr Muthu’s father, Subbiah Muthu, co-founded the political party DMK in India that has been in power in some form for 50 years, was a legislator for 18 years, and mayor of Madurai, a city of more than one million people, for three terms.
“He transformed millions of lives in his lifetime,” Mr Muthu (right) said.
“If I can achieve even a fraction of that, I’ll be proud. He’ll be proud.”
Mr Muthu moved to New Zealand with his wife and daughter in 1995.
Their daughter has severe autism and they found New Zealand to be accepting of children with disabilities.
They also have two younger daughters who were born in New Zealand.
The family has lived in Wellington since 2000 and prior to that lived in Auckland.
Mr Muthu thinks Wellington is unique, compact and easy to move around in.
“We are really fortunate to have such a beautiful little capital. We are small enough to be unique and big enough to be the capital,” he said.
Mr Muthu is in favour of the amalgamation of the councils up to Upper Hutt and Porirua.
He says that it is such a small population even after amalgamating the five councils.
“When people use the phrase ‘super-city’, I laugh. Go to Auckland – Auckland is a super-city maybe. Go to London, Mumbai or Shanghai – they are super-cities, they are massive cities. This is just a tiny little dot.”
He believes the amalgamation will increase the productivity and efficiency of the councils.
He supports the one-tier council format, however he says it is important to ensure community representation is preserved.
Mr Muthu believes as mayor he could lead the city and leverage his global connections as his perspectives are different and will benefit the city. He is qualified as a lawyer and he has worked in investment funds management.
He would also like to pave the way for future ethnic leaders.
“It is very difficult to break the glass ceiling. I don’t like that analogy because when you break the glass… it hurts, it falls on you, but it opens up for future generations, so you may be a victim of that effort to break the glass ceiling but you will certainly be a path-finder and path-breaker for future generations,” he said.
Mr Muthu envisions Wellington to be an inclusive, resilient, liveable city that is an economic powerhouse in the country and the southern hemisphere.
He would like to see the city become a financial hub in the next two decades, just as Singapore has done over the past 30 years.
“It has emerged as a financial hub, fashion hub, art and culture hub, film hub – it has emerged as the powerhouse in Asia Pacific,” Mr Muthu said.
He would like Wellington to be a city that attracts people to live in, to do business and to invest.
“We can attract academics, we can attract students, we can attract all the top talents. That’s something I would like,” he said.
Mr Muthu believes laying the foundation for Wellington to become a financial hub over the next 20 years is achievable.
“If I say three years, that’s fixing yesterday’s problems. If I say 50 years, I’m dreaming… but if I say two decades – within my lifetime – I can achieve it.”
Bringing a fresh perspective in how to take the city into the future is what Mr Muthu believes is his biggest strength.
Mr Muthu wants to leave a legacy for himself, for his children and for the community and the city.
“That’s what we should all be aspiring to do – to be extraordinary.”