Wellington Scoop

Hate us? Love us?

Plenty of people have leapt to the defence of Wellington since Andrea Vance’s weekend essay about why she hates the city.

Two of the defenders are in the DomPost this morning.

Siobhan Downes is one of them. She writes

…there’s nowhere I’d rather be… Scratch the surface, and you’ll find it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. For example, take the city’s alleyways, which Vance describes as “less Melbourne laneway, more inner-city slum”. She can’t have been talking about Hannahs Laneway, which is home to a bean-to-bar chocolate factory, a window selling gourmet peanut butter, a gem of a café that does the city’s best brownies, and a great hole-in-the-wall pizza joint that rolls out authentic Neapolitan pies. The party district that is Courtenay Place is dubbed “seedy by day, seedier by night”, and sure, it’s not for everyone. But if it’s not your vibe, you can head to Ghuznee Street, which is where many of the city’s best bars have popped up in recent years.

There’s similar enthusiasm from her colleague Henry Cooke. He says it’s true the Council has underperformed, and the Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport plan has not yet got Wellington moving. But …

… it is unfair to be too pessimistic… Ten years ago Ghuznee St and Victoria St were just that: streets. Ghuznee St has slowly morphed into everything you need for a good 24 hours … Victoria Street is awash with cranes as several apartment blocks go up, busily creating what will be one of the densest parts of the country in a few years. It’s the density of Wellington, forced on us by the hills, that gives the capital its magic. The statistical “area unit” around Parliament holds more jobs than any other unit in the country, a concentration of people on weekdays that means you can always meet basically anyone for a coffee.

Density isn’t just good for corporate networking however, it is also the key to spontaneity. You never really need to have set plans for a night out here: you go out for a drink with one friend and run into another, you amble from bar to restaurant easily, then suddenly find yourself at a theatre show, or a friend of a friend’s apartment, or dancing your feet sore. All of this without ordering or an Uber or counting your drinks so you can drive.

There’ve been many tweets in response to the Vance attack, including this from Conor Hill:

…writing with that much snark is super easy. while I agree with the broad outline, Vance seems to hate all change in Wellington, and I’m not sure anything would please her.

And more

The response to the Vance hate essay has also included the fact that her facts on assaults in Wellington (“ten times higher than the national average”) were wrong – her statistics were ten times greater than reality.

Compared to what?


  1. Claire, 24. November 2020, 10:26

    There has been a lot of rubbish written about Wellington recently. It is a campaign around the DSP. And the lack of housing. This is a problem in in all cities in NZ. And in the last twenty years has not been addressed by Govt or councils. Blaming a city and the people who own homes there is childish. People who live here and love it know different.

  2. Stephanie Rodgers, 24. November 2020, 10:31

    Love this line from Henry Cooke’s latest: “We already have a museum; we need a lot more houses.” [via twitter]

  3. Toni, 24. November 2020, 11:15

    As much as I truly love Wellington I despair about its future.

  4. luke, 24. November 2020, 13:17

    I love Wellington and I miss it but the reasons I left don’t look like they are changing anytime soon. Namely continued car dependance and the short airport runway limiting a connection to the rest of the world. LGWM is all about delaying everything u until it’s politically viable to just build more roads.

  5. bsmith, 24. November 2020, 14:47

    @luke, whether you like it or not, people/cities need roads … now and for the foreseeable future, which is why wgtn is suffering, in that the roads that are being built, lead people out of the city. This council is dysfunctional, and to even mention a rates rise of 20 odd per cent (even though they were fishing), in this day and age, is a slap in the face for the remaining residents (who will slowly drift northwards)

  6. Dave B, 24. November 2020, 21:52

    @ bsmith. Wellington is suffering from too much traffic, not too few roads. There are already enough roads to service most needs away from peak periods. The peak periods are best dealt with by providing better alternatives to driving for the many journeys that can be made by other means. We need to get out of the mindset that ‘whatever the problem, the answer is more roads’.

  7. Henry Filth, 25. November 2020, 3:34

    Sure baited a lot of clicks over there on Stuff. The hayseeds got up on their hind legs right on cue.

  8. bsmith, 25. November 2020, 11:14

    @dave b, I think the mindset, that lets all take public transport, is half the reason Wgtn is in the state it’s in. By now we should have had a decent road to the airport/hospital etc. People won’t use public transport, as it doesn’t service their needs. And let’s face it, why would I use public transport, when today is a classic example: I’ll catch the bus … ummm no I won’t, bus drivers are in stop work meetings.

  9. Peter Steven, 25. November 2020, 13:44

    bsmith: 49% of commuters coming into the city from north of Wellington use public transport. Seems to service their needs just fine?

  10. Cr Daran Ponter, 25. November 2020, 19:59

    bssmith: A few hours in the off-peak once every 6 to 12 months for a stop work meeting … and that’s the reason you don’t use public transport?

  11. Northland, 25. November 2020, 23:02

    Cr Ponter – if you would like people to be effusive about the Wellington public transport system, it would have helped if the GWRC hadn’t inflicted such disasters as the 2018 bustastrophe on them, whereby not only was a colossal amount of ratepayer money wasted, but also services on key routes were measurably reduced.

  12. Morris Oxford, 26. November 2020, 9:03

    I remember that Karori’s peak hour services in the morning were cut from eighteen to ten.

  13. Dave B, 26. November 2020, 18:32

    @ Northland, Morris Oxford – The bustastrophe (and scrapping of the trolleybuses) were driven by the previous administration under Laidlaw, Donaldson, Swain etc. They have since been ousted. One would like to believe that the present incumbents (Ponter, Blakeley etc) would not have acted so ill-advisedly if they had been in charge then, and would not do so now.