Wellington Scoop

Getting things done

by Conor Hill
Congratulations to Andy Foster for winning the Wellington mayoralty. He had a narrow victory, with STV working its magic 7 times. It’s likely he lost four out of Wellington’s five wards. It’s unlikely that more than one (if that) of the 14 elected councillors gave him their first preference. He doesn’t have a natural majority on council, and isn’t aligned to cabinet or the regional council.

Luckily for Wellington, Foster has been on a council which had a mayor opposed to central government, elected on low turnout through the quirks of STV. He will have seen how hard it is to get things done in similar circumstances to his. To be successful, Foster will need to find common ground with his council, regional council and cabinet.

Transport is the area where he can find the most common ground.

Most everyone wants to see private cars removed from the Golden Mile.

Foster recently signed a petition calling for an extra $290 million dollars of cycleway spending in Wellington, so cyclists are in for a massive boost.

Foster champions bus priority, where car parks are removed for bus lanes.

He is also wanting to charge motorists to use roads at peak times. Collectively this could be a successful transport package and would be great to see it delivered.

On social housing, all agree that council housing tenants should be eligible for central government’s income related rents. It would make life better for some tenants, and be good for the council’s books. A mayor who is not aligned with Labour may be able to push central government harder on this.

The other side of housing is supply, particularly the district plan update to accommodate the next 50 – 80,000 Wellingtonians. Many on council would love to see the plan updated to allow for more affordable homes connected to good public and active transport. Foster describes himself as “the consistent leader of Wellington’s compact mixed use urban form approach.” He has a very good chance to prove this point, by pushing for many more apartments and townhouses in our city fringe and suburban centres.

There’s a few other things that Andy and this council can agree on. A runway extension is off the table. Waste reduction policies should find favour. Predator Free Wellington work will continue. Other things already in train like the St James and Town Hall renovations will continue.

If Foster can work collaboratively with the clear majority on council, he has a chance of being a successful mayor, and delivering some useful transport and housing initiatives for Wellington. I wish him, and the amazing new council we have, the best of luck.


  1. Pam, 16. October 2019, 15:58

    Perhaps your stance on converting Town Belt land to housing cost you a few votes?

  2. Patrick Morgan, Cycling Action Network, 16. October 2019, 16:29

    Hot: Open Streets events
    Not: free Sunday parking

  3. Conor Hill, 16. October 2019, 16:40

    HI Pam. For sure! But Foster wants to take town belt land for a road, which I would consider worse. This piece though is more about finding things which Foster might be able to get majority support for on council. No golf course conversion mentioned 🙂

  4. Pam, 16. October 2019, 21:28

    Our wider whanau didn’t vote for u on that basis. Ruahine Street is a slightly different issue as has been a road for many years and has been removed from the Town Belt under recent legislative changes … We wholeheartedly agree, no TB land should be taken to widen Ruahine Street. However the public works act will likely be invoked to achieve LGWM goals.
    It is hard to understand how Green Councillors do not feel protection of the Town Belt is a basic tenet of conservation and vital to the health and well being of Wellingtonians who, until recent law changes, were the beneficial owners of the Town Belt

  5. Conor Hill, 17. October 2019, 9:25

    That’s fine. I note that roads are not the only thing the Public Works Act can be invoked for, it’s kind of a red herring.

    Does your wider whanau have some good solutions to our housing crisis? My experience across 35 meet the candidates meetings in the city is that everyone wants it solved, but god forbid anybody puts up any specific solutions. And so nothing happens, and homelessness and rents continue to increase.

    Also, the Golf Course is a net carbon emitter.

    Not sure about your tangent on Green councillors, they didn’t support the idea.

  6. Brendan, 17. October 2019, 12:59

    I don’t want cars removed from the golden mile! How will tradies get to businesses? The big polluters are diesel buses with many having zero passengers on them (NIS). I say get the buses out and make the office workers walk to the railway station or Courtenay Place to catch one. Rail commuters have to use their legs so why can’t bus users? Are we that lazy?

  7. Patrick Morgan, Cycling Action Network, 18. October 2019, 11:37

    Great cities have great public transport, walking and cycling. We deserve better transport choices. The Council needs to focus on delivering the Let’s Get Wellington plan they already voted for and funded.
    I think this is something the Mayor and most Councillors already support. Now it’s time for action.
    Yes, there will be disruption, but it will be worth it.
    I look forward to a people-friendly city, where people are free to move, where we have great public spaces, where the air is clean, and we have moved to zero cardon transport.