Sir Dove-Myer Robinson, KB (15 June 1901 - 14 August 1989) served as Mayor of Auckland from 1959 to 1965 and from 1968 to 1980, the longest total time of any mayor so far in the city.
He was a colourful character and became affectionately known across New Zealand as "Robbie". He was one of several Jewish mayors of Auckland City, although he rejected Judaism as a teenager and became a lifelong atheist. He has been described as a "slight, bespectacled man whose tiny stature was offset by a booming voice and massive ego".
Born Mayer Dove Robinson
in Sheffield, England
, he had seven siblings (being the sixth). His parents were Ida Brown and Moss Robinson. While his father described himself as a master jeweller
, he actually sold trinkets, and second-hand furniture, and the family was poor and often on the move. Dove-Mayer's mother influenced the upbringing of her son by transmitting the strict values her own rabbi
father had taught her. His Jewish heritage ensured that he was often targeted by anti-semitic
violence in the schools he attended. The family moved to New Zealand in 1914, where his father then worked as a pawnbroker
. Dove-Myer, as he later called himself (ignoring his Robinson family name), found New Zealand agreeable and lacking in the intermittent persecutions he had previously faced.
Robinson entered politics in the late 1940s when he led the opposition to a sewage dumping scheme which would have seen the effluent discharged into the Hauraki Gulf untreated. Instead, when elected in 1953 as a councillor, he proposed and eventually realised a scheme to break down the sewage in oxidation ponds ('Robbie's ponds') near the Manukau Harbour. His success in the scheme later on helped him gain his first mayoralty.
Dame Barbara Goodman
, former Auckland Mayoress and councillor, is his niece, and spearheaded a campaign for the Auckland City Council to build a statue of him in Aotea Square
; the statue was completed in 2002.