What do you feel were your most useful qualities? Being able to see different points of view, appreciating cultural and gender diversity, fairness – for example, giving all councillors some responsibility, a passion for Wellington, a sense of humour, and being a fast reader.
What was the single biggest challenge you faced as Mayor? Facing down internal and external critics of the Living Wage from councillors, senior staff and some business organisations to make sure lifeguards, cleaners and other low-paid workers have a chance to thrive in this wonderful city. Our staunch response to the Living Wage Aotearoa movement meant many other councils have joined us since.
What are you most proud of about your time as Mayor? The dramatic improvements in biodiversity, planting and predator control, showing humans can live in harmony with indigenous species of land and sea birds, plants, lizards, in a vibrant economically successful city. This is a very good example of hope in the twin global crises of species extinction and human depression.
What two things that councils under other mayors have done do you admire? In Auckland, Goff’s got support for light rail. In New Plymouth the Coastal Pathway is great but our Great Harbour Way will be even better!
Can you think of things you wish your council had done or hadn’t done? I wish we hadn’t collectively wasted time even considering amalgamation. I never supported a super-city but some saw it as inevitable. Our regional economic development agency and water entity were a much more sensible response. The most frustrating political loss was losing safer speed limits in the CBD by one vote. Despite continuing and speeding up essential council housing improvements, partly due to Government refusing to permit income-related rents for council tenants, we didn’t build enough additional housing.
Briefly, what skills do you believe Wellington’s next Mayor needs? Compassionate leadership, scientific and cultural competence.
What advice would you offer to the next Mayor? Be ambitious for Wellington, think globally (for ecology, economy and an open society) and act locally with speed.
In order of priority, what are the three most important decisions facing the city of Wellington? 1. Reform of the District Plan to increase density in more places (while keeping good amenity, reserves and community facilities), to give affordable housing to buy and rent without urban sprawl so we can end homelessness.
2. Serious planning for adaptation to sea level rise as well as strengthening mitigation efforts.
3. Deciding between light rail and trackless trams so we can more rapidly improve public transport.
Dame Kerry Prendergast Mayor of Wellington 2001-2010
Currently: Chair, NZ Film Commission. Deputy Chair, NZ Conservation Authority. Deputy Chair, Wellington Free Ambulance. Director, Oceania Healthcare Ltd. Trustee, NZ Community Trust. Trustee, Wellington International Arts Foundation. Trustee, Victoria University Foundation. Member, KiwiRail Tourism Advisory Board.
What do you feel were your most useful qualities? Strategic thinking; ‘Can-do’ attitude forging a way through the difficult decisions; good chairing; working collaboratively; hard-working; having personal integrity and honesty; being adept at understanding how to progress issues through Council processes.
What was the single biggest challenge you faced as Mayor? Having to find an agreed path along which to steer council to get the best outcome for Wellington, while councillors each had their own political agenda, and then getting majority support for moving the city forward.
What are you most proud of about your time as Mayor? The Pohutakawa trees from the stadium to Taranaki St, The ASB Indoor Sports Facility, all of the sculptures over that decade, Oriental Bay Beach, three inner-city parks, the waterfront and its promenade, having Wellington called ‘The Coolest Little Capital’ in Lonely Planet, embedding the ethos ‘Cultural Capital’ into the DNA of Wellingtonians and the consciousness of all Kiwis.
What two things that councils under other mayors have done do you admire? Dame Fran Wilde pushing through the Westpac stadium; Mark Blumsky changing Wellingtonians’ perception of the city from a grey bureaucracy to an entertaining and eventful city.
Can you think of things you wish your council had done or hadn’t done? Should have embedded the route for rapid transport between the CBD and airport.
Briefly, what skills do you believe Wellington’s next Mayor needs? Honesty, integrity, strong ethics, can-do attitude, and hard work.
What advice would you offer to the next Mayor? Get the road to the airport sorted and bring forward the tunnel for vehicles – critical for access to the airport, hospital, and eastern suburbs. Bring back the soul to the Civic Centre and strengthen the library.
In order of priority, what are the three most important decisions facing the city of Wellington? 1. The roading network from the Basin Reserve to the airport.