What do we want, Wellington?

Compiled by Tessa Johnstone

We play 20 questions with
Wellington city’s mayoral
candidates, read it here.
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We’ve heard a lot from would-be politicians lately. Whether it’s grinning at us from berm-side billboards or thrashing out the issues on talk radio, those vying for a seat at the council table have been letting us know exactly what they think Wellington needs.

But what about the voters, what are they looking at the next council to do? We asked 10 Wellingtonians what they think the windy city needs to bring it back to life.

Liz Mellish

Iwi business leader and activist

“I think Wellington needs a clear vision for the future and to celebrate the cultural, creative place it has been for over thirty years. It needs to relate better to its ratepayers, students and universities by having a culture of inclusivity. Rather than berate young people, let’s invest in them. Social housing needs pastoral care for all tenancies. The city needs to make strong links to central government. This must be driven by our elected people.”

Emily Writes

Parent and author of Needs Adult Supervision

“We need affordable, safe, dry and warm housing and a focus on manaaki and care for our most vulnerable. I want everyone in our city to feel safe and every family, every person to feel they belong in our city – like they’re an integral part of the Te Whanganui-a-Tara community. I want our council to listen to our tamariki and rangatahi – they’re the future of our city.”

Matt Clarke

Chief executive of Wellington Airport

“Wellington already has plenty of life! It’s one of the most popular destinations in New Zealand, thanks to events like Beervana, WOW, and Wellington on a Plate. At the airport we’re proud to sponsor these and would love to see more. We also need a council who can sort out traffic problems with solutions that work for everyone. It shouldn’t take an hour to drive six kilometres at peak times. Slowing cars to walking pace won’t encourage more walking – it will just drive us all to distraction!”

Samuel Flynn Scott,

Film composer and songwriter with The Phoenix Foundation

“‘Bring it back to life’? That’s a hangover from dumb John Key comments. Elevate what’s already great about the city. We have excellent underutilised nature walks for instance. Celebrate our art and food. More access is key, public transport, cycleways etc. Excellent parking facilities on the edge of the CBD run by the council could really open up the city to pedestrians. We are such a small city and that can be our greatest asset if we embrace it.”

Natalie Jones

CEO at Seasick Sunscreen Co, Masters student at Te Herenga Waka, He uri au nō Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa

“Te Whanganui-a-Tara is such a great little city – I am proud to call it home because of the value we place on native wildlife and natural spaces as well as growing support for reclaiming Māori place names and normalising te reo. I’d love to see more support for both of these things as well as better public transport and cycleways. A big concern for me is wastewater entering the harbour and South Coast – it breaks my heart every time the beach has to be closed after a storm or broken pipe.”

Shahd El-Matary

on behalf of Changemakers Resettlement Forum

“The top priority is affordable housing and equal access to housing. Others would be: equal access to healthcare (including increased opportunities to access mental healthcare), equal opportunities to employment, culturally responsive and competent schooling and of course, appropriate and affordable public transport.”

Alan Judge

Chair of Habit Health, arts patron, councillor at Victoria University of Wellington

“Wellington will come back to life when Wellingtonians have a reason to come back to the central city. We need more green and recreational space to balance housing intensification. We need reliable and well-priced public transport. Fix the infrastructure, implement world-class spatial planning and Wellington city will come back to life, with people. The city is at a tipping point. We need a united, non-partisan council and a strong mayor that governs and delivers for all Wellingtonians.”

Aleisha Amohia

Software developer & gender and indigenous justice activist

“Wellington needs progressive, transformational, decisive action – informed by mātauranga Māori and gender-based research, and led by communities whose needs and lifestyles have been ignored for too long. If WCC and the mayor represent the city’s diverse population, they can bring specialised solutions and relationships that will enable the city to become more safe, accessible and inclusive. We need to address infrastructural, environmental and cultural issues to bring Wellington back to life.”

Catherine Jones

CEO of Creative HQ, New Zealand’s leading innovation specialists

“Local council can foster further growth, development and visibility of innovation and entrepreneurship. Startups, for example, create jobs and offer new ways of thinking about existing problems within the private and public sector. They can adapt to changing environments, such as that which we’ve experienced over the past 2.5 years. They attract new investment and talent to the region, and can connect us in new ways. They give us all cause to feel inspired, energised and proud.”

Kassie Hartendorp

Director, ActionStation

“Let’s keep aroha at the heart of Wellington, our dear Te Whanganui-a-Tara! Let’s embrace our history and the mātauranga Māori that makes Te Upoko-o-te-ika-a-Māui so unique. Let’s make sure everyone has what they need to thrive, especially when it comes to a genuinely affordable home, decent wages, a say in their community and a place to belong.”


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