Wellington Scoop

Councillors agree: Central Library is one of the city’s most popular buildings

council second library meeting

Wellington city councillors spoke persuasively today about why their preference is to strengthen and upgrade the existing Central Library. However they also accepted legal advice that all options must be considered during the process of consultation which is to begin soon.

Accepting legal advice on the wording, they voted to make reopening “a central library” one of the council’s top priorities.

Mayor Andy Foster acknowledged that the Central Library “is loved as a building as well as for its services,” with more than 1.2 million users a year (and that excludes the cafe.)

“We were quick to close it, but our actions since then have been slow. We councillors want action now. We all want things done quicker… We want speed of reopening, at an affordable cost.”

Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons, who holds the library portfolio, said she had spoken to 2500 people during her election campaign and everyone said they want the Central Library reopened as soon as possible. She said the process being recommended today was “as quick as it could be,” with a preferred option in 28 days.

Councillor Jill Day said it would make sense to put Capital E into the library building. “The future of Capital E looks like the future of the library.” She noted that since the Central Library had closed “there has been no free safe wrm indoor place for the young people of Wellington. We are not delivering for these young people.”

She had received “such a strong message from people” about keeping the library.

Councillor Iona Pannett said: “We have heard Wellingtonians loud and clear. You want your library back. It was the most successful place in the city – where every Wellingtonian was welcome.” She said her preferred option was to go back into the existing building. “I will be hard to convince that we should demolish it.” She said the council should make it clear that reopening was wanted quickly “rather than in 2026.”

Councillor Tamatha Paul said the Central Library was “critical as part of our social infrastructure.”

Councillor Rebecca Matthews: “My preference is to make it safe and get it open.”

Councillor Malcolm Sparrow: “I think the view of many will be to get it up and running as soon as possible.”

Deputy Mayor Sarah Free: “It’s clear the public wants us to get on and make it open as soon as possible.”

Councillor Nicola Young: “In all my years on the council I have never had so many people contact me about the Central Library. But we must remember the ratepayers.”

Councillor Laurie Foon: “The business community are keen to have it reopened because it adds to the vibrancy of the city.”


  1. michael, 3. June 2020, 18:42

    Thank you to those councillors who listened to the public’s desperate pleas and voted to retain our iconic library. We trust that council officers will listen, and everything will be done to ensure this happens.

  2. Helene Ritchie, 3. June 2020, 19:56

    The Council’s preference, by decision today, is reopening “a Central Library” but not the Central Library, (and consulting on all options, including demolition i.e. a new build, or a building somewhere else). The difference between a and the may decide the outcome! So start preparing submissions now (for the August/September 2020 consultation period.

    It ‘aint over (or open) yet! Not by a long shot, but most councillors did declare their ‘love” for the Athfield building, the library and libraries in general!

  3. Tom White, 3. June 2020, 21:11

    The people have spoken and our councillors have listened. Kia ora! Now get on and deliver. Please

  4. wendy, 4. June 2020, 0:24

    The careful wording of “a central library” is concerning as management of the process and information is via council officers who have control of the outcome and may already have a preference. The public cannot afford to be complacent and must insist the consultation process is transparent, inclusive, and unbiased, and they are involved from the start by having prompt access to all information to make their own informed decisions in a timely manner. If this process is done in a spirit of genuine democratic consultation, the future of the library is an opportunity to redefine the often contentious relationships between the council and the public, to one of collaboration, openness and respect.