Wellington Scoop

Flattening the park, in spite of all the opposition


by Alana Bowman
The legal fight to stop the rebuilding of Frank Kitts Park is over, and Wellington city councillors and Mayor Justin Lester are continuing with their plans to destroy the green amphitheatre and flatten the park.

Today the park has been fenced off, builders are there with equipment, and it appears the rebuild could be underway.


The Council has the legal right to do this, but is it the ‘will of the people’?

For over 10 years, Wellington residents have expressed opposition to levelling the park and to building a Chinese Garden in the middle. Whenever the City Council has offered an opportunity to express their views, the majority of respondents have rejected these plans.

But the Council has pressed on, fighting the opponents (with ratepayers’ money) to get approval for resource consents and then in the Environment Court.

In 1997, Wellington people made 2,500 submissions to oppose a plan for a mass of big new buildings on the waterfront, and the City Council listened and withdrew the plan.

There has been even greater opposition to redeveloping Frank Kitts Park. Between 2016 – 2017 an online petition objecting to the plans received over 3,200 signatures. In addition, nearly 1,300 more signed a paper petition.

Why isn’t the council listening this time? Keep the park as it is, renovate the playground, and place the Chinese Garden somewhere else. And save $5million of ratepayers’ money.


Many people commented through the online petition – did Councillors read any the comments? Or did they read them all?

Here are some of the comments:–

The new idea for Frank Kitts park is dumb and a waste of money.

I am a regular user of the park and the changes will make it far less useful.

Love the open free space for anyone to use. Great place to hang out on a sunny day, especially as a student. It’s a great central place to get away from the stress.

The amphitheatre is an essential part of Frank Kitts Park & a wide open space there would be detrimental to the ambience of the whole area.

There is no point in doing this? Put it somewhere that doesn’t destroy a popular Wellington landmark.

I love this area and don’t want to see it gone.

I love Frank Kitts park. My favourite place in wellington as it is.

I’m signing because this is an iconic piece of the Wellington cityscape and if you want to revive it we should look to our own culture for inspiration instead of copying and pasting others.

We love the green space and all the diverse concerts and festivals it has to offer.

Frank Kitts is a family friendly park and is fab as it is! Leave Frank Kitts Park alone!

A special place on the waterfront with a great history, part of a wider historic area, which illustrates an important story about the development of the waterfront from a working port to a much loved and utilised public space.

I am signing because I like the park. At the moment it is a very nice and OPEN park, where everyone can do as they want, whenever they want. The wall provides a nice shelter against the weather; the new plans would close off a big area of the park. I do like the idea of a publicly accessible Chinese garden in Wellington, but don’t tear down one of the few parks Wellington offers for it!

This is a well used public space and should remain open at all times for everyone to use. I walked through there today at lunch time and it is a busy place with kids playing, people shopping at the pop up market and business people taking a quick break for lunch. It would be very sad to see this closed to these activities. If we need a Chinese Garden in Wellington then the Chinese Embassy should be using some of the land it owns elsewhere in Wellington or part of the Botanic Garden should be converted.

People matter. Especially those people who will be directly affected by decisions such as this. Put people first Wellington City Council.

Wellington desperately needs its open spaces, and the existing area is one of few in the city suited for children to have free play.

I used to participate several activities in the park. With the new plan, it will not be possible to continue what is available for us. Why do we need a Chinese garden in the centre of the city?

I’m signing this because this is a stupid idea.

Frank Kitts is a key attraction in Wellington. Its part of our iconic waterfront. Frank Kitts deserves to stay for many more generations to come.

Don’t ruin the park for everybody.

The Amphitheater is a great place for medium-size groups to hang out and enjoy the park.

It’s a waste of money.

I have so many memories of this place and still come here on occasions during late nights. I do not agree to having it redeveloped nor removal of its amphitheatre.

I’m against locking public spaces.

I love it so much! Such an iconic part of Wellington.

Frank Kitts park is beautiful as is!

I’m signing this because it is a well used, well loved public space – and the public deserve more consultation before their money is used in redeveloping their own space

I like the park. We need more parks.

I love Frank Kitts park – do not get rid of it.

Frank Kitts Park is a well used space already. What are people going to do with a Chinese Garden?

Don’t you dare rip up the Park.

I exercise in the park.

I like the park the way it is and don’t like changing old monuments.

Because we love Frank Kits Park the way it is, no one wants it changed.

this is a park i use often, both at night and day and it would be a shame if it were locked off.

I love Frank Kitts Park and don’t want it locked off at night!

Keep your pretentious ideas away from a welly landmark.

Leave Franks Kitts Park alone! I’ve had many great times there and it still works well. A Chinese garden would be nice but not at the expense of FKP. Instead please consider putting a Chinese garden in Jack Ilott Green, the Botanic garden or the original Chinese quarter around Haining & Frederick Streets.

Am sick of people changing things that don’t need to be changed. Frank Kitts is a lovely place to go AS IS!

Don’t change something that works great.

Born in Wellington, lived in Wellington for the 1st 10 years of my life, worked in Wellington for 4 years after graduating from Auckland University. Appreciate the amenity this open space provides.

Frank Kitts Park is a wonderful venue for open-air shows.

Wellington is Wellington because of its open spaces along the waterfront.

Open green spaces by the sea are important for wellbeing. A better position for a Chinese garden is near the Chinese Embassy end of the Botanical Garden.

Madness in the name of Council greed. That is a very popular area and excellent for out of town visitors as well.

This is one of the most family friendly parts of Wellington. Please don’t muck it up.

This is the only part of grass we have near the water. This is damaging the city.

This space should not be changed. It is great and well used in its current form.

This park is just fine as it is. Please no change just for the sake of it!

I love frank kitts park as it is now, I would especially miss the amphitheatre as I often go there. I also believe there are more important things we could be doing with our money than redeveloping a space which is well loved as it is.

Please save Frank Kitts Park – it’s so well used and if it’s not broke, don’t replace it with something else.

I’ve grown up in Welly and it was almost tradition to go to frank kitts park every weekend! I have so many memories at that park and it can’t be ripped away!! Future generations deserve to enjoy the park as it is.

The park is fine as it is and is well used. Why fix something that is not broken and why waste money which could be better spent on other things. The Chinese Garden could be sited in the Botanical Garden.

Frank Kitts Park is such a nice oasis in the city.

I love the open and comfortable, well-used and well-loved space that is Frank Kitts Park. Why change a good thing?

The park is great for escaping them concrete jungle vibes and contemplating life 🙂

We should not clog up our prime waterfront recreational area with a garden that is only accessible part of the day.

We lived in Wgtn for 40 years – there is no need to mess with that park yet again. Specially not for a Chinese import which is
a/ waste of ratepayers’ money
b/ wrong site for such a facility
c/ inappropriate use of such a PUBLIC space.

I believe the park should be kept as it is as many, many people visit it with friends and family.

I grew up in Wellington and still visit frequently. While I am not against change, I think it should take into consideration the elements that impact people using the area. The fact that the ampitheatre provides shelter from the wind is highly important to users of the park.

Frank Kitts Park is massively popular as it is. Its redevelopment will remove a wonderful multi-use site used for festivals and charities, including relay for Life. This plan will degrade the use of the waterfront considerably and irrevocably.

This is a lovely area, the council needs to stop wasting money & put it where it’s needed, not rebuilding something that’s fine as it is.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The park has so many uses for so many people. Leave it alone. Go and spend the money on something useful.

The park is beautiful the way it is now, please put the money to better use.

I prefer Frank Kitts Park to be kept exactly the way it is.

I walk through the park twice daily it’s fine as it is.

Stop this foolish spending!

Frank Kitts is one of the most well known and beloved spots in the city. It is fantastic the way it is. The sheltered area is fantastic. I visit Frank Kitts Park every weekend that we have good weather. A remodel is not needed or wanted.

This park is a great getaway for everyone in the CBD and visitors to our city. We already have a botanical garden, we don’t need a Chinese garden to replace a great green space already in existence. Spend the money to revamp it but don’t change it.

We need all of the open spaces in the city centre.

Wellington is doing some amazing things towards bettering the city. But this is going too far!

Frank Kitts Park is a great area for the enjoyment of all – as it is. The childrens’ play area will be compromised by the addition of a walled garden. We don’t need it! Leave the area alone.


  1. michael, 13. March 2019, 19:53

    Bit by bit the WCC is destroying Wellington’s beautiful vistas to the waterfront as it is being closed off by buildings; the high-walled Chinese garden will be no different.
    Over the past few years, people have campaigned to stop the destruction of our open green spaces (3,000 + signatures for Frank Kitts Park, 10,000 signatures to save Jack Ilott Green) but it all falls on deaf ears or promises are made (especially in an election year) and never kept. Shameful!!

  2. Andrew, 13. March 2019, 20:12

    I really enjoyed the Matariki fireworks last year (good move there WCC) standing up on the raised walkways and sitting on the walls. With the new park, there will not be any vertical separation; everyone will be rushing to the sea wall to view the fireworks. I guess with the new flat area they can stack in more marquees for private events. Is that the motivation?

  3. Lindsay, 13. March 2019, 20:35

    Mark Blumsky was the mayor when the city council changed its policies after listening to the 2500 people who said they didn’t want big new buildings on the waterfront. Things are certainly different now, with Justin Lester and his council ignoring 3200 people who say they don’t want Frank Kitts Park to be rebuilt.

  4. CC, 13. March 2019, 22:50

    Where is the money for the Chinese Garden coming from? Last heard, the fundraising wouldn’t cover the planting of a few noxious exotics in the form of flowering cherry trees that are being expensively eliminated elsewhere around the city’s reserves. As for the children’s play area, if it is like the previous Wraight effort at Waitangi Park and as illustrated in renderings, it won’t even be a shadow of the Hutt Council’s Avalon Playscape. The ratepayers are used to the WCC engaging in expensive failures and getting them started to hoodwink electors at about this stage of the electoral cycle. At least the destruction of Frank Kitts Park isn’t going to be as expensive as the loss-leader Conference Centre.

  5. greenwelly, 14. March 2019, 7:34

    They can’t be doing too much, Homegrown is intending to use it on the 22nd: “The bigger and better Vodafone City Stage returns to the natural amphitheater of Lower Frank Kitts Park, with a collection of legendary Kiwi icons set to keep this stage pumping across the day and into the night! “

  6. David Mackenzie, 14. March 2019, 8:36

    I love the idea of a Chinese garden in Wellington. However, the Frank Kitts Park site is completely unsuitable. The resulting plan for the Chinese Garden is cramped and mean. It is unlikely to result in a aesthetically satisfying result. I personally have never used Frank Kitts Park amphitheatre, but support those who have strong feelings about it.
    Wellington has very extensive green spaces, including the botanic gardens. Would it not be possible to place a Chinese Garden in a place designated for similar purposes?
    I dislike the bureaucratic bullying and menacing stance of the Council. I am disappointed again at the failure of our elected representatives to further our common good. They do not really know better.

  7. banana, 14. March 2019, 9:40

    Greenwelly has hit the nail on the head here – 10 bucks says this is just the fencing off and set up for homegrown…

  8. Traveller, 14. March 2019, 9:58

    Whatever is happening, the fence is a reminder that the council intends to spend $5m and flatten the park.

  9. Keith Flinders, 14. March 2019, 12:36

    CC: In the 23 years since the Wellington Chinese Community offered the garden they haven’t been sitting idly by waiting. You should ask that committee what the fund raising situation is, rather than assuming.

    It is only a month since the last legal battle was settled.

    David Mackenzie: No other suitable site for the Chinese Garden has been offered, albeit some suggested, since the site alongside Te Papa was ruled out.

    In October you can show your disapproval to those councillors who will not listen to public opinion. Remember that all of them have voted for the $150 million plus white elephant Convention Centre vanity project.

  10. Flat as a pancake, 14. March 2019, 14:02

    I just walked past there and it’s for the set up of Homegrown, not “flattening the park”. I can’t imagine the council would ever be capable of actioning something that quickly.

  11. Lissa, 14. March 2019, 15:01

    It’s the set up for Homegrown, you guys. HG is a huge event, they get started early.

  12. Nora, 14. March 2019, 16:24

    Yesterday when I crossed over at Harris Street to get to the upper level of Frank Kitts Park, the fence was up there as well and I had to climb down the steps to the lagoon and walk along the Promenade to the play area. But part of the amphitheatre was still walkable.

  13. Alana, 14. March 2019, 16:53

    The Council have confirmed that the larger section is fenced off for Homegrown, and some work has begun towards renewal of the playground.
    I hope councillors take this opportunity to read the submissions contained in the article – and if possible all 3,000 online. People took time to urge that the park be spared, and I hope their time is recognised. And the Council can still reverse the plans for flattening the park and find a more appropriate place for the Chinese Garden.

  14. Pauline, 15. March 2019, 9:05

    Thanks Alana. Back in February 2000, Frances Williamson and I presented a petition to Mayor Mark Blumsky with 11,233 against the plan to put a large building on Frank Kitts Park. We were also against Variation 11 and supported Waterfront Watch and Mary Varnham, as did the petition signers.