Wellington Scoop

Changing the Regional Council – or keeping the status quo

Dissatisfaction with the ‘Greater’ Wellington Regional Council – including suggestions that it should be abolished because of its bus system failures – has coincided with a representational review that the council is now carrying out. It seems happy with how things are, and is proposing no changes in representation for next year’s elections. But not everyone would agree with retaining the status quo.

The regional council has only five councillors representing Wellington excluding Tawa. The other eight councillors are from outside the city – two representing Porirua and Tawa, one representing Kapiti, three representing Hutt City, one representing Upper Hutt, and one representing the Wairarapa.

Paul Swain, who was chair of the transport committee when it planned the unpopular bus changes, represents Upper Hutt where he was re-elected unopposed at the last election. Barbara Donaldson, who succeeded him as transport chair, and who has failed to attend three of the four Wellington public meetings about the bus problems, was elected by voters in Porirua.

Critics of the Regional Council are suggesting that changes in the representation system are needed.

They say that the regional councillors could be elected at large, as is done for the District Health Board, rather than by constituencies.

Alternatively, Tawa could be included with Wellington City, giving Wellingtonians six representatives instead of five.

One way or the other, there is now an opportunity to propose changes to the Regional Council’s representation plans – in view of the fact that Wellington’s interests as represented by its five councillors appear to have been outvoted by the eight councillors from out of town.

Anyone who has an interest in Regional Council representation can send written submissions on the Council’s status quo proposal to:

Representation Review, Greater Wellington Regional Council, PO Box 11646, Manners Street, Wellington 6142; or
Email: repreview@gw.govt.nz; or Fax: 04 385 6960.

But there isn’t much time. Submissions must be received by the Council no later than 26 September.

The person in charge is Francis Ryan, Manager, Democratic Services, phone: 04 8304248, email: francis.ryan@gw.govt.nz who can answer questions on what the council is proposing.


  1. Roy Kutel, 13. September 2018, 11:27

    Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas! So its up to us, the public, who will have to wield the axe to the incompetent and expensive GWRC.

  2. luke, 13. September 2018, 16:19

    people didn’t seem to want a supercity. maybe some rationalisation of the councils is overdue.

  3. Keith Flinders, 14. September 2018, 10:13

    Luke: Many saw the Super City proposal as a dilution of democracy with a Grand Duchess heading a few at the top making the major decisions that affect us all, and minor issues being delegated to local boards without any real power other than decide what biscuits to order for the afternoon teas.

    What we really want to see is professionalism and accountability in running multi-million dollar ratepayer owned businesses, but currently we are not. The current democratic model is in need of an overhaul, but the Super City model as proposed for Wellington wasn’t it.

  4. Jonny Utzone, 14. September 2018, 10:34

    Well said Keith! Having people make decisions on buses and trains who know nothing about them is lunacy. And paying them handsome salaries just adds insult to injury. Abolish the GWRC now and replace it with a Public Transport Authority with experienced professionals at the top and city council representation on the Board.

  5. Benny, 14. September 2018, 17:40

    Who can still honestly believe making a submission can influence anything? It sounds very pessimistic but sadly, probably quite true. If this was to be, which I would support because our council seems to be quite powerless really, it’d have to come from government.

  6. Kara Lipski, 15. September 2018, 11:08

    Great to hear that GWRC officials will have to appear before a select committee. With any luck a full Parliamentary investigation will follow. Wellington bus users won’t be waiting for the GWRC to wake up – more meetings will be held. The next two are going to be submission generating workshops. The first on Sunday 26 September will be at Maupuia & Miramar Community Centre at 2pm and the second at The Realm Back Bar at 5.30 pm on September 30th.

  7. Harry M, 15. September 2018, 11:30

    You got that right Benny. The Govt doesn’t actually care about or listen to the public’s submissions. It is just a farce to prop up the make believe democracy they tell us we have at election time.

  8. Brent Efford, 15. September 2018, 23:54

    Keith Flinders has put his finger on it. Surely it is obvious to everyone that the current multifunctional regional council running public transport is a farce! PT is 70% of the GWRC’s total fiscal responsibility – yet I am told that the public transport manager is a former waterworks middle manager, and goodness knows what before that. Managerialism rather than specialised subject knowledge rules in the GWRC bureaucracy, and the politicians in charge are elected by constituencies which are not affected by the failings, the latter recognised even up to central Government level, even if not by Ms Donaldson.
    Time for a specialised Regional Transit Authority, only concerned with fighting for and operating public transport and not controlled by councillors more interested in the latest motorway project, to whom us plebs using the buses and trains are a bit of a joke.

  9. Neil Douglas, 16. September 2018, 9:59

    Well said Brent. I second your proposal. Time for real change!

  10. Ross Clark, 18. September 2018, 4:50

    As for a regional transit authority and slightly O/T … what has come of the proposals to amalgamate the three Wairarapa councils and (possibly) make them a unitary authority independent of the GWRC?

    While I understand why, in 1989, territorial local authorities were kept separate from the regional councils, except for Gisborne, I am beginning to think that the case for large-scale amalgamations is likely to turn up again.

    I know that in Auckland, the supercity in practice has had its problems, but I cannot see any enthusiasm to return to the old way of things, any more than in the 5-city model (itself first proposed in about 1970 or so), there was enthusiasm to return to the status quo prior to 1989.

  11. Roy Kutel, 18. September 2018, 8:41

    Ross – wait for the increase in rates and the AKL regional petrol excise tax to start hitting people’s wallets. GWRC employs 500 staff averaging over $80k each with a CEO on $420,000. Their main role is supposed to be governing public transport. Do you think spending $50 million on governance and getting such a terrible service is worth it?

  12. Jonny Utzone, 19. September 2018, 17:49

    Just saw my first bicycle being loaded onto a front end double decker rack near what was Kirkcaldies. The Scotsman couldn’t figure out how to do it and was letting go some Billy Connolly expletives. Delayed his double decker by three minutes and backed-up six other buses. The bus driver had to get out to help him. I’d estimate he cost 210 passengers $70 in total. He should have cycled home himself.

  13. James S, 19. September 2018, 23:02

    The Wairarapa voters rejected the merger proposals. The Local Government Commission did not offer the option of escaping from Greater Wellington control.