Wellington Scoop

Movie Museum and second tunnel on the new mayor’s agenda


Report from RNZ by Harry Lock
A new movie museum and prioritising a second Mt Victoria tunnel are firmly on the agenda for Wellington’s new mayor. In a speech this morning to the Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Andy Foster outlined his vision for the city over the next three years.

He said coping with the demands of a growing city would be challenging, but there were opportunities to reap the benefits from it.

The challenges were many, he said, from accommodating a growing population, to alleviating housing shortages. With projects like the convention centre, as well as earthquake-proofing buildings, he said it would not be a cheap exercise.


Such planning will cost money for the ratepayer, with rates projected to increase by more than 50 percent by 2028.

Mr Foster however was still excited about other possibilities, such as a movie museum. “I am quietly hopeful that we might end up with a movie museum in due course,” Mr Foster said. “And that will be a fantastic thing for Wellington.

“Hobbiton, in rural Waikato, 644,000 visitors last year, and it’s growing at about 100,000 visitors per year. So if you can do that in rural Waikato, what can we do in Wellington, with all the movie opportunities that there are.”

There were plans to include a movie museum in the Convention Centre, but that did not proceed, which Mr Foster called a “crying shame.” When he was asked where he planned to place the museum, he said all would be revealed in due course. Other details, such as how it would be paid for, and whether there would be any partnerships, were not given.

The capital city’s grand infrastructure plans could also be subject to a reworking, with Mr Foster keen to prioritise a second Mt Victoria tunnel ahead of mass rapid transit. Under the current plans, the tunnel would not be completed for more than a decade – too long for the new mayor’s liking.

Such a time period was also too long for National List MP Nicola Willis, who was at the speech. When she asked whether he would try to renegotiate with the government, he answered he “would try”.

“I haven’t had direct communication from him [Transport Minister Phil Twyford], but there is some indication of [him] being open to conversation.”

He said he was concerned about some of the writing in the documents around Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM), which make it appear as if the plans are set in stone.

“You read something in one document, it might have a different implication in a different document. Some of the documents seem to suggest that everything is signed, sealed [and] delivered. I think we’re a fair way from that.”

Mr Foster added he had more issues about how this would be paid for.

The council’s 2018-2028 Long Term Plan predicted financial headwinds, including several major projects like the library closure. But it did not include Let’s Get Wellington Moving, nor the reworking of Civic Square.

As such, the project would add 20 percent to rates bills on top of the 52 percent, and so Mr Foster wanted to explore the issue of introducing a congestion charge, something that has been ruled out at the Beehive.

He said he wanted to see more trust placed in local government with such matters.

“Ratepayers simply won’t be able to afford it. Do you want these things to happen or don’t you want them to happen? You’ve got to give us the tools. At the moment, central government straitjackets local government and makes it very, very hard to do our job.”

Smart, prudent, efficient, priorities

Notable by its emission was a comment on the future of Shelly Bay. Mr Foster has been a vocal opponent of the development in the past. There were other issues instead that Mr Foster said he wanted to look at:

Open discussions with CentrePort to see if cruise ships could set off from Wellington, or stay overnight, to increase tourism opportunities
Prioritise resilience when it comes to deciding on a new site for the ferry terminal, to accommodate bigger ferries
Speedy deliveries on early stages of LGWM i.e. bus prioritisation on Golden Mile
Possibility to open up Te Ngākau Civic Square, using the buildings on the square and giving them active edges and rooftop gardens
Opportunity to modernise the Central Library in a similar vein to Christchurch’s Tūranga
‘Planning for Growth’ – adding 30,000 more dwellings to the city, in the CBD and suburbs – Spatial Plan to be consulted on beginning of next year
Work with Kāinga Ora, to assist with housing development strategy
Look into introducing congestion charging to help fund LGWM

But Mr Foster said not everything would be possible: decisions, and sacrifices would have to be made.

“We need to be smart, we need to be prudent, we need to find efficiencies, and we need to prioritise,” he said. “We can’t do everything, we’ve got to do everything that will make a difference to our city.”


  1. Ben, 26. November 2019, 14:35

    Notable by its omission was a comment on climate emergency, voted only a couple of months ago.

  2. Jane S, 26. November 2019, 14:49

    Rates increasing by 50% to pay for the Council’s financial mismanagement! The “sacrifice” of the ratepayers for the cronyism in the Oligarchy. This is the same old agenda as the Council had before. Do they need a new tunnel to bury us in their debt.

  3. Ralf, 26. November 2019, 14:54

    “Rooftop gardens on the buildings in civic square.” We are not allowed to enter those buildings anymore, but we will be allowed to get on the roof?
    Congestion charge? That sounds interesting but there will be quite some pushback from voters.
    Movie Museum? Ah, vanity projects are back on the agenda.
    And for the second car tunnel he has to wait for a National government. But by then there might be a climate-change mayor, who will kill this idea quickly.

  4. Andy Foster, 26. November 2019, 16:56

    Tomorrow, I shall be meeting Phil Twyford to discuss LGWM. I want to keep our rates under control by introducing a congestion charge as well as deliver better transport options sooner. [via twitter]

  5. Matty H, 26. November 2019, 17:08

    That new congestion charge would be inappropriate. Creating more tax does not keep our taxes down or keep our rates under control.
    Andy: where imposed, a congestion tax does not stop congestion. We want a working public transport system, not more punitive actions!

  6. Dave B, 26. November 2019, 18:31

    “Better transport options” Andy? All I am hearing from you is “more roads”. That’s just more of the same tired-old transport option that has got us into the mess we are in. I hope Phil Twyford refreshes your awareness of the current Government Policy Statement on transport.

  7. Brendan, 26. November 2019, 18:33

    Yep keep rates down by introducing another tax that hits the actual workers the most and leaves the wealthy bureaucrats largely unaffected because they can use trains and buses to their nice CBD offices! Totally unfair I say.

  8. Hel, 26. November 2019, 20:19

    Andy, here is an idea. Why not get in among the bloated overhead structure that has grown before our eyes and drive efficiency and cost from the council bureaucracy rather than taxing or rating the long-suffering ratepayer.

  9. Roy Kutel, 27. November 2019, 9:46

    Hear hear Hel, but we need to take an axe to the GWRC as well (actually just abolish it). It employs 500 people! What on earth do they do except make bus services worse and tell you about rail delays?

  10. Traveller, 27. November 2019, 11:27

    A congestion charge would work for me. It would encourage me to leave the car at home and either take the bus, or walk … Not that there is any real congestion, or shortage of parking spaces. But it would help to change my behaviour.

  11. Chris Horne, 27. November 2019, 21:05

    We left the 1990s nearly 30 years ago. That was the era when more road capacity was seen to be essential for the nation’s well-being. Now that humanity faces a mounting climate emergency because of ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from motor vehicles, etc., it should be glaringly obvious to everyone, even including politicians, that more road capacity, which encourages more use of cars, and thus inevitably more emissions of greenhouse gases, that increasing the capacity of our road network in simply not acceptable.

    Let’s Get Wellington Moving with steadily improving bus, train and cross-harbour ferry services. Let’s Stop Wellington Moving Backwards by not twinning the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels. Tunnel vision must not blind us to the potentially catastrophic climate emergency.

  12. Northland, 27. November 2019, 23:04

    @Chris. Buses need roads last time I looked. Increasing road capacity to allow for dedicated bus lanes to and from the suburbs in Wellington is an argument that’s hard to argue against. Lets Get Welly Moving needs to be about action to improve all types of traffic corridors including rail and road. Please don’t demonise roads

  13. Barney Bubble, 28. November 2019, 9:08

    Well said Northland but I’m afraid some people on this site want to move Wellington back to the stone age or at least before the wheel was invented and certainly before that awful thing called the internal combustion engine made its debut in the terrible thing called a car.

  14. CC, 28. November 2019, 10:55

    Barney: Pre-1960’s, most Wellington families didn’t require cars as there was a functional public transport system. A useful exercise is to assess the current accumulated costs of vehicles sitting in carparks that primarily ferry one person to work then home again. Next, factor in the cost of providing roads and roadside car parking. Had a fraction of those costs been spent on upgrading public transport, the necessity of private ownership would never have eventuated. It is inspiring that so many young people no longer consider that drivers licences are essential and are increasingly living in apartments that have no garaging. With the adverse global effects of private vehicle ownership, Wellington needs to embrace mid-19th century concepts and get back to the future!

  15. Sue Boyde, 28. November 2019, 12:35

    Andy should minimise any construction, any use of cement and steel. No new infrastructure for fossil fuel transport. If we’re going to survive we have to stop burning fossil fuels ASAP, by 2030 if possible. [via twitter]