The last three years have been an extraordinarily challenging time to be Mayor of Wellington, leading our city. Pandemic, pipes, protests and politics. There have also been some uniquely Wellington challenges – the need to fix earthquake damaged / prone buildings, and a landfill fast running out of space.
Fixing pipe breakages, nursing our central city back to life after lockdowns and red light settings (including reduced parking and business fees); support for businesses and locals affected by the protest, as well as a fantastic events programme are all part of what I have been getting done for you. The challenges were many and I’ve delivered!
I’ve lifted the infrastructure budget and pipes are being fixed. New wastewater rising mains are either under construction (Taranaki St) or complete (Whitmore-Bowen), stopping sewage getting into our harbour. Omaroro, our city’s biggest ever reservoir, will be operational in November.
I continue to lead our remarkable, world leading environmental restoration journey. Zealandia goes from strength to strength. I want to reduce our footprint on the planet, and ensure we retain a high quality lifestyle. Last year The Economist recognised Wellington as the number one city in the World for environmental security!
We’re pursuing waste minimisation, have agreed a modest landfill extension, and the technology for an essential sludge treatment plant. Our Climate Change policy Te Atakura is fully funded.
Transport and urban planning are being integrated, the biggest levers that can be pulled to become an even lower carbon city. A new District Plan has been notified, providing for ample housing capacity for the next 30 years. I’ve led our agreement with Government on a second Mt Victoria tunnel and a very attractive Basin Reserve solution. Mass transit (light rail or bus rapid transit) will run from the Station to the South Coast. Ministers have supported my advocacy to drive housing development particularly along that route through a new Government-Council development agency.
Council are delivering hundreds of central city affordable housing units.
High level plans have been agreed for multiple other bus-bike routes subject to consultation. Cycleways are being built including Cobham Drive, around the bays and to the south coast and safer speeds were implemented. The new Airport Express bus service has just launched.
I’ve made sure we’ve got many important things done that previous Councils lacked the leadership to deliver.
My Long Term Plan included, for the first time ever, $38 million over 30 years funding for Central City greening and park acquisition and development to support our growing central city population.
I responded with speed to address safety problems in our entertainment district that emerged after the first lockdown. The Poneke Promise partnership now includes Police, hospitality, retail, Chamber, City Mission, DCM, Universities, MSD and others. It is delivering new housing, better support for emergency housing tenants, hospitality security training and working together, enhanced Police presence, better lighting, CCTV, and new community venues. Together we are making a demonstrable difference.
Working with Government, I’ve led the agreement to establish a community housing provider (CHP). This is to fix the financial troubles of our City Social Housing and new tenants, and allow building new social housing. Again a big problem is being fixed that previous leadership wouldn’t.
We co-created new forward looking Social, Economic Wellbeing and Aho Tini Arts, Culture and Creative Strategies, and ensured that, when Covid allowed, our residents and visitors enjoyed an outstanding events programme. Despite Covid, we supported the founding of Wellington’s own opera and community theatre companies. Enjoyed seeing La Traviata and Les Miserables recently.
We’ve reopened the St James, the complex Town Hall will reopen in 2024/5 and together with a beautiful new building on the MFC carpark, will be home to the National School of Music.
Takina our iconic conference is looking stunning and the exhibition centre will open mid next year. We’ve partnered with Te Papa to bring their expertise to run it – there are 80 plus multiday conventions booked already!
Work is underway to strengthen and modernise Te Matapihi, our Central Library. It will be amazing and bring new life back to Te Ngakau Civic Square. The Basin Reserve’s historic Museum Stand has been reopened and refurbishment of the Basin has been completed.
Significant investment has been made in our community assets – opening of Johnsonville’s Waitohi library and Waiora sports hub, Newlands has a fantastic new playground as well as renewed artificial turfs and Hataitai netball courts. Funding has been provided to help Worser Bay Sailing Club and Lyall Bay Surf Club; community centres are being upgraded in Aro Valley, Newtown and Strathmore.
Finally inclusion is absolutely fundamental, everyone has an absolute right to belong and diversity should be celebrated. I’ve built strong relationships with our many ethnic and interfaith communities and embassies. The Takatapui Rainbow Advisory Group has been established, mana whenua now contribute to Council committee decisions and we have a new relationship partnership “Takai Here” with Ngati Toa Rangatira and Taranaki Whanui.
We have an amazing city, and amazing people. My job is to make it even better, and even through tough times and in tough conditions, I am determined to deliver.
Please give me your support to take us forward to an even better future. Lets get things done together for Wellington.
Nga mihi nui