Wellington Scoop

A significant workload

by Ian Apperley
The Mayor this week announced a raft of portfolio responsibilities for the Wellington City Council. Rather than simplifying the previous list it’s been expanded to cover some fifty or so areas.

Mayor Andy Foster
Transport and Urban Development, Spatial Plan and District Plan, Let’s Get Wellington Moving, new funding tools (including central government funding)

There is no doubt that Andy has deep experience across the machinery of Council, so taking on the Spatial and District Plans makes sense, both are areas of high-complexity and slow-burn, taking time to manipulate.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving has effectively been put to the side by the Council, while still retaining a headline. The reality is that LGWM is going nowhere fast and I would expect little progress and many more tantrums over the coming triennium. I think the Council will do much to avoid LGWM while trying to make progress where they see opportunities they can control. We can only wonder what “new funding tools” entails; this feels a little more think tank in nature.

Deputy Mayor Sarah Free
Governance, Associate Transport, Let’s Get Wellington Moving (associate), Walking, Cycling, Public Transport Infrastructure

With Sarah’s background experience, Governance should be a natural fit for her skill set. While it sounds a dry and boring topic, it is integral to getting things done. Governance is the mechanism by which all decisions are ultimately made and has a set of principles, including transparency, that are necessary for democracy to operate. Walking, Cycling, and Public Transport Infrastructure should be a walk in the park given Sarah’s previous experience over the last triennium and the fact that these are the only areas where the council has some control over transport.

Cr Iona Pannett
Associate Urban Development
District Plan (shared with Mayor Foster); Civic Square; CBD Apartments Resilience; Insurance; Weathertight buildings; Building Resilience; Heritage; Consenting – one stop shop; Place-making and Community-led planning (shared with Cr Rush)

An interesting choice for Iona. You would think her natural fit was more around climate change and the environment, those traditional “green” areas. However she has experience around buildings and resilience, and I expect those skills can be pushed out to the other areas like Civic Square. Insurance and CBD Apartments Resilience are sort of the same thing and a very big hospital pass. With apartment dwellers abandoning the city and investment in the same question, coupled with some noisy community groups and developers, this is not going to be a cakewalk.

It looks like a full day for Iona, and you would expect this to be a full-time job to get things done, as the workload from these responsibilities is going to be immense.

Cr Sean Rush
Associate Urban Development
Place-making and Community-led Planning (Shared with Cr Pannett); Urban Development Agency; Property; Alternative energy; Infrastructure (3 Waters)

Putting Iona and Sean together is an interesting proposition, but perhaps rather than sparring partners the two can work out a binary-star arrangement of working. Alternative Energy is a new portfolio area, and Sean Rush is somewhat of an expert in the area bringing a set of skills we have not seen around the Council table before. Watch this space; it could be a very interesting area to see developed.

Property is a hospital pass and the fact that Urban Development Agency holds its title shows that the Council is going to go down the route of trying to establish one. Odds on that will fail. Based on previous attempts at similar constructs the outcomes have been failure or sub-optimal. Good luck with that one.

Cr Diane Calvert
Economic Development

Diane has some background in this area as a Management Consultant and with a focus on small business. This is a very tough area to measure and control. It’s also an area where the Council needs fresh thinking, rather than tired old models dominating the discussion. Boosting the economy means working with business, attracting it to the city and region, and central government, who are traditionally poor at contracting out services to local business. Ditto the Council itself. It’s going to require some strong allies, brute force, and battery, but it’s possible to improve.

Cr Simon Woolf
Sport and Recreation

Not much to see here. Seriously.

Cr Malcolm Sparrow
Associate Resilience, Community Resilience and Emergency Preparedness

Malcolm has an affinity with the community and has done well in his suburb. However, this role means getting out of Tawa, which he appears reluctant to do some of the time, and work with the whole city. That means a lot more travel away from home base and a lot of educating on how communities are different across Wellington. Emergency Preparedness requires significant creativity and thinking to get people to engage; Malcolm will need some help here from experts on how that can happen. The current model for this is weak and needs strengthening.

Cr Nicola Young
Arts, Culture and Events, Associate Urban Development, Central city projects, Associate Economic Development, Civic and Global Partnerships

A good mix of responsibilities for Nicola who retains her two key strengths, Arts and Central city projects. Given Nicola’s diplomatic nature, the Civic and Global Partnerships addition makes a great deal of sense. Watch that space; I think it will be interesting.

Cr Laurie Foon
Waste Minimisation, Associate Economic, Sustainable small business

A small set of portfolios with great importance playing to Laurie’s core skill sets. With a city landfill that is nearly full and problematic to boot, Waste Minimisation is critical. Sustainable small business can mean many things, and we’ll have to wait and see what that definition is. In my mind, it’s about keeping a business alive, when we see so many failing, and sometimes, because of the WCC’s archaic methods. However, I suspect in this context, sustainable is more green aligned in thinking.

Cr Jill Day
Maori Partnerships, Associate Community Well-being, Children, Play spaces and programmes

A perfect set of responsibilities for Jill, and allowing her to continue the progress she made in the last triennium.

Cr Jenny Condie
Associate Transport, Parking, Roading, Safety, Traffic Resolutions

A boring set of responsibilities? Maybe, on the surface, but remember that Jenny thinks a lot differently to the old school dogmas around these areas. That means that we can hope to see some innovation, new ideas, and different thinking to the dinosaur constructs of the past. Could be interesting.

Cr Fleur Fitzsimons
Community Well-Being, Social Housing and Housing Partnerships, Libraries and Community Facilities, Community Services, Public Health

Picking up from where Brian Dawson left off, Fleur has big shoes to fill and is going to need to rely on her solid relationship with Central Government to make all this happen. Traditionally it’s an area that the WCC does well, specially Social Housing, and Brian’s legacy must be continued. The bottom three responsibilities are integral to the Social Housing narrative, providing layers of support for those most in need and bringing them into the community. A good choice of leader for this set.

Cr Teri O’ Neill
Natural Environment, Parks, beaches and open spaces, conservation attractions, Associate Community Well-Being, homelessness

An interesting mix for one of our first-time Councillors though not unexpected. Teri lives in the part of the city that has a lot of beaches for example, and with plans for a massive reserve out that way, there is a lot of work to be done. This is a real tough set of responsibilities for a first-timer and she is going to need to find allies in the community, and fast (there won’t be that many in the WCC). Homelessness adds a new dimension to her set of portfolios.

Cr Rebecca Matthews
Community Engagement, consultation, information and engagement, Associate Community Well-Being, Living Wage, Disability

The most important portfolio for the Council and the largest hospital pass of them all. Community Engagement is a shambles currently, and the trust of the residents in the Council at I suspect an all-time low, reflected by a very poor voter turnout. I don’t know what Rebecca’s background is, but this portfolio needs to be turned upside down and started from scratch, using some modern thinking and innovation. It’s a tough responsibility to get in your first term as a Councillor. The other responsibilities are important and more mature.

Cr Tamatha Paul
Climate Change, Associate Community Well-Being, City Safety and Youth

This is going to be interesting. So far, the Council has not got its head around Climate Change that well in terms of what to do. The fire alarm is blaring, everyone is still sitting at their desk, and the exits are not marked. Getting a monolithic, dinosaur-like organisation to consider building plans of action around climate change into everything they do is going to be a shit fight. However, Tamatha has been outspoken and has plenty of allies to support her.

The addition of City Safety and Youth to the portfolios is excellent. Having a youth advocate on board the Council is incredibly important for the city. OK, boomer?

First published on Inside Wellington


  1. Brendan, 10. November 2019, 13:31

    What a lot of blah! Who is in charge of drains and potholes?

  2. Blah, 10. November 2019, 16:11

    Who’s working to make Wellington a smart city? Why isn’t anyone thinking about this stuff in the council.

  3. Sue, 10. November 2019, 18:14

    Drains are probably GWRC.

  4. TrevorH, 10. November 2019, 19:20

    @ Sue: Drains are one of humankind’s highest achievements. I remember seeing perfectly formed four thousand year old ceramic drains in the ruins of Minoan Knossos. It could be convincingly argued drains are what make us human. Please don’t let the GWRC anywhere near them.

  5. GrahamCA, 11. November 2019, 8:20

    Drains are a TLA responsibility although trying to ensure nothing toxic enters the harbour from them is GW

  6. Karori Pete, 11. November 2019, 11:08

    What’s a TLA Graham? I want to know who maintains Wellington’s sewers and storm water pipes etc. I thought it was WCC (very own Water Closet Council) where all our money seems to be flushed away.

  7. GrahamCA, 11. November 2019, 12:31

    Territorial Local Authority

  8. Karori Pete, 11. November 2019, 19:34

    So GrahamCA (or anyone else) is it GWRC or WCC or some other territorial local authority that is in charge of maintaining Wellington’s drains?

  9. Natalie Braithwaite, 8. December 2019, 20:41

    Sean Rush lots of dynamics there around the energy sector – push for low carbon emission energy. To carbon neutrality – way behind Christchurch in that space at present.