Wellington Scoop

Telling their new mayor what they don’t want him to do

by Lindsay Shelton
On the same day that Lower Hutt’s new mayor announced his deputy (who said she was looking forward to working alongside him), a group of Wellington councillors were reported to be telling their new mayor who he should not choose as his deputy.

The “ultimatum” headline on Tom Hunt’s report in the DomPost said it all:

A group of Wellington councillors have delivered Mayor Andy Foster an ultimatum: choose our deputy … or else. Multiple council sources have confirmed the group approached Foster last week under the understanding he was favouring Nicola Young or Diane Calvert for the deputy role. Both are considered politically centre-right while a majority of the new council is either Green, Labour or otherwise left-leaning.

Tom Hunt also reported:

It is understood many on the left favour Iona Pannett as deputy but it is a role she does not necessarily want….Foster said he was still working through options and would only confirm the deputy role would be chosen from Wellington’s 14 councillors.

Before the councillors’ ultimatum, Ian Apperley had observed (on his Inside Wellington website, that the same six councillors were also opposing the new mayor’s idea of prioritising another Mt Victoria Tunnel, even though the tunnel would favour buses, cyclists and pedestrians:

You would think that the left-leaning Councillors could agree on this one. But Councillors opposed to the idea were Green Party members Sarah Free and Iona Pannett, Labour Party members Teri O’Neill, Fleur Fitzsimons, and Rebecca Matthews, and independent candidate Jill Day…. What’s ugly is that they’ve chosen to go public with it, rather than listening, planning, analysing, and forming an opinion on what it could be. This tells me that it is likely to be more dirty politics based than naivete.

LGWM was already a Frankenstein before the election, with a lot of central party meddling, poor behaviour around leaking, total lack of transparency, and so many lobby groups involved you’d need a stadium to hold a meeting. And while for the city it is critical, for these six councillors it’s a political football to be punted around. Disgraceful.

Apperley was also critical of Fleur Fitzsimons for opposing Andy Foster’s idea of selling the city’s shares in the airport.

The airport is one of the largest polluters in the city and with a council that, in another political stunt, declared a “climate emergency”, they need to act on that. Fitzsimons seems to think that by having a third of the company and sitting on the board of WIAL, we’ll be able to influence it. She’s completely naïve. The airport … plan to grow the airport substantively and massively increase flights… The WCC has sat on that board for years and never managed to influence it on any matters.

…A big up to the other councillors who made considered responses to these ideas and didn’t engage in tribal politics. Well done, you passed the first test. Right now, this city needs some certainty and stability, and having six outliers grandstanding is not helping that cause. It’s not helping their cause either. I can’t tell if that is an orchestrated campaign or just a knee-jerk reaction based on a lack of research, lack of listening to the community, a poor understanding of the history of these things, or just naivete.

No such conflicts were visible in Lower Hutt, where the new mayor said she was

“… looking forward to working alongside the Mayor to deliver on the new council’s priorities.”

How many Wellington councillors will be willing to work alongside the mayor?


  1. Local, 22. October 2019, 20:53

    At present it’s looking like one and a half…just saying, just answering your question!

  2. michael, 22. October 2019, 23:12

    Not even two weeks after the election and we are faced with this kind of appalling behaviour. It does not bode well for Wellington over the next three years. When are these WCC councillors going to get the message to stop pushing their individual political views and biases and focus on what is going to be good for Wellington!
    Stop throwing your toys out of the cot and try to act like mature and rational adults for a change, and we might get something done.

  3. Inflorescence, 23. October 2019, 7:29

    This has Fleur written all over it.

  4. Conor Hill, 23. October 2019, 7:58

    The key skill for any Mayor is to be able to build majorities among a diverse set of councillors. The rest of Wellington will find out soon if Andy has those skills.

  5. TrevorH, 23. October 2019, 8:21

    Typical Left-wing behaviour, driven by ideology and allegiance to their political parties rather than Wellington. We have seen far too much of this over the past decade and Wellington has suffered as a result. Pathetic.

  6. Traveller, 23. October 2019, 8:40

    Evidently the six rebel councillors weren’t paying attention when Andy said the right thing in his NewsHub Nation interview on Sunday:
    “The first thing is to get the council together — working together. It’s not going to be particularly easy to do that. What I’ve got to do is put together a package of responsibilities that the people are going to be happy with and that we can all contribute.”

  7. George G., 23. October 2019, 8:52

    3 more years then another election and 3 more years….

  8. GillyT, 23. October 2019, 9:07

    TrevorH. The Wellington Party are the National party rebranded
    Ideology cuts both ways.

  9. Sue, 23. October 2019, 10:38

    Michael, totally agree. We are all so over the division, start working together and stop throwing your toys out of the cot, we elected you thinking you were mature grown ups! Come on, ratepayers want Wellington to move ahead.

  10. Concerned Wellingtonian, 23. October 2019, 12:25

    GillyT, where is the influence of The Wellington Party in all this?

  11. Brendan, 23. October 2019, 12:42

    Move ahead but in which direction Sue?

  12. michael, 23. October 2019, 13:38

    TrevorH: I do hope you are right. If Andy Foster is going be faced with this kind of outrageous behaviour for the next 3 years, little will change for Wellington, and there will be even less people willing to vote next election.
    If this lot can’t behave like professionals and earn our respect, why do we need them. They are just costing us money for nothing.

  13. Conor, 23. October 2019, 16:16

    Exactly Sue! Really looking forward to Andy working with, instead of against his councillors.

  14. Hel, 23. October 2019, 20:41

    This was always going to be Andy’s biggest issue, bringing people along with him.

  15. Libra, 23. October 2019, 21:17

    A huge contributing factor regarding why Lester got voted out was that a large number of Wellingtonians felt disenfranchised by what happened on his watch.

    If Foster (a right-leaning mayor elected by a hairline in a left-leaning city with a majority-left regional and city council) is a politician worth his salt he’d know that it’s in his long-term interest to develop a meaningful working relationship with his team.

  16. Ms Green, 24. October 2019, 9:54

    That’s just about all he needs to do – develop a meaningful workable relationship with councillors (and staff) and give them each a long leash to perform for the city in their areas of interest. I am sure he won’t settle for that, but he’s a figurehead now, not the councillor he still seems to want to be….(and may still become again?)

  17. Ms Green, 24. October 2019, 10:11

    Lester should have been complaining about the integrity of the election and postal system before the outcome, not after he lost. In fact he and the Council probably had the power to change from the postal system – which had problems that were evident from the outset and before. If that were allowed as grounds for a recount, then many candidates would seek it! No judge would grant that!