Wellington Scoop

‘World class solutions’

fireworks nye 2
New Year’s Eve fireworks in Wellington

by Lindsay Shelton
Communications is a growth industry, even for the Wellington City Council as it plans for the new year when it’s been warning us that we’ll have to pay a larger than usual rates increase.

The city council is planning to increase its communications team. And its advertisement for the new job tells us that the team has been producing world class creative solutions.

This is the first time I’ve heard that council communicators have been coming up with world class creative solutions. What have I missed? A list of the problems (world class problems?) that have been solved would be really useful so that we can then all be impressed by learning about the what the council’s communicators have been achieving.

The council is advertising for a “creative storyteller,” who turns out to be a videographer and photographer who will …

… be capturing the beautiful sights and sounds of our city – anything from scenery and wildlife to infrastructure and people.

Which raises the question: the council already owns and finances the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, which already has a website that is already capturing the sights of our city – in an impressive oversupply.

Why the need to do this again? Can there some dissatisfaction at the sights that the Economic Agency has chosen to show us? Does the council have different ideas? Has it been unable to get the Economic Agency to choose the sights that it prefers?

It also makes you wonder why such a new job – doubling up on what’s already being done – is thought to be necessary at a time when “budget blowout after budget blowout has landed on the city council’s table” (to quote Georgina Campbell in the NZ Herald). And at a time when the money to strengthen the Central Library and the Municipal Office Building has yet to be found – as reported by Damian George in the DomPost. And at a time when Mayor Andy Foster has said the forecast rates increase for 2021-22 looks “horrific”, likely to be more than 15 per cent.

The advertisement for the storyteller tells us that he or she will join

the council’s award-winning creative team which provides brand leadership and design services to the Council, to make a real difference for Wellington residents and visitors. Working across council services, and collaboratively within the communication and engagement team, we produce worldclass creative solutions to boldly tell the story of the Council, our people and this place – Wellington.

Some of us may have been slow to realise that the council’s communicators have been making a real difference for us. What would our lives have been like without them?

And making a real difference to what? Some examples would help to calm anyone who finds it hard to believe such a bombastic claim.

The council’s award-winning team does however need to be giving some thought to finding a solution for the mayor’s communications. On his Mayoral TV YouTube channel there are 42 videoed mayoral reports which have been viewed by a total of 288 people. But there haven’t been any new mayoral messages since May – the channel doesn’t seem to have been active since the lockdown. Before employing someone new to capture repetitive city sights and sounds, the team should turn their attention to ways of increasing the audience for what the mayor wants to tell us. (Of course, he could reach thousands of people if he chose to place his YouTube messages on Wellington.Scoop.)

And as for those sights – a quick look at the Regional Council website shows that there’s another ratepayer-funded website where they’re also doing a fair enough job with these. They’re even encouraging us to experience them, rather than just look and listen.

Happy new year to all communicators, and all their readers.


  1. Marion Leader, 1. January 2021, 9:04

    Georgina Campbell in the New Zealand Herald is the only other commentator on the Wellington City Council who serves us nearly as well as Wellington.Scoop.

  2. wendy, 1. January 2021, 10:21

    Absolutely agree Lindsay. We don’t need another”creative storyteller” as there are enough of them already in the council. If anything, the council needs a lot less ‘storytelling’ and a great deal more action to solve the enormous problems facing the city.

  3. Traveller, 1. January 2021, 10:25

    The Economic Agency has got it right with its images and its list of seaside cafés.

  4. aom, 1. January 2021, 10:43

    But they missed the best one – The Beachhouse! Also has fabulous views of the tame, moderate or wild Cook Strait.

  5. michael, 1. January 2021, 11:25

    What on earth is happening at the council? We are facing enormous rate increases and yet the council is employing non-essential people to create stories about how wonderful it all is. How can the WCC expect us to pay the rate increases when they are not prepared to curtail their own unwarranted spending. It is a travesty.

  6. Claire, 1. January 2021, 11:35

    Yes Wendy. I think over the years there have been a lot of jobs invented, some in communications and not just in Councils. The council is there to do some basic roles for our community. Not to build monoliths or enter into tricky deals with developers. Expertise is the key here, it seems lacking. And then accountability, not story telling on why bad decisions were made. A stocktake of jobs and skills and salaries is needed.

  7. Sue, 1. January 2021, 11:38

    Agree Lindsay and Wendy, how about the Councillors get back to core values and get on with what they are elected to do … create the city people want to come to, the story will naturally evolve itself.

  8. TrevorH, 1. January 2021, 12:31

    Who is the target audience for the “storytelling”? Ratepayers? But we can see with our own eyes and feel through our hip-pockets the incompetence of this Council. Perhaps the storytelling is meant for Councillors? Maybe they participate in a virtual-reality version of Wellington where everything is sweetness and light which the rest of us are not privy to?

  9. Wellington Inc, 1. January 2021, 13:02

    The Regional Council’s website of Wellington sights is another example of council duplication, as it is a joint owner of WellingtonNZ which is the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency.

  10. Ms Green, 1. January 2021, 13:13

    I think the creative story teller will have one job: to make the tick box submission forms even more creative than they are now, so that the Council will absolutely positively definitely always be right regardless of the views ‘sought’ from the public.

    Happy New Creative Story Telling Year! Some of the Council’s stories are already creative enough thank you.

  11. Meredith, 1. January 2021, 13:16

    Lindsay: how did you find this advertisement? Were you looking for a more creative job?

  12. Toni, 1. January 2021, 13:18

    I am afraid the council has turned into a PR company and the councillors seem to believe the creative stories they are presented with. Time for a huge change as the system is not working.

  13. Ruth, 1. January 2021, 14:52

    The water pipes and Shelly Bay and airport favouritism and lack of affordable housing and congestion are already telling a very clear story. ‘Creative’ storytelling just sounds like an attempt to spin the obvious differently in the hope that we ratepayers will be fooled.
    Please just go back to providing basic services for the good of the city without side deals and faction infighting.

  14. Marion Leader, 1. January 2021, 17:02

    I am pleased that Ms Green has raised the issue of the tick boxes on the so-called submission forms. These are nothing less and nothing more than cheap and shoddy attempts to conduct an opinion poll with officers framing the questions and selecting what answers to highlight.

  15. Northland, 1. January 2021, 17:24

    Sounds like the Council is fully on board with the modern move towards pointless jobs .

  16. Alan, 2. January 2021, 8:15

    Do you notice that no one from the Council ever counters with why we need more of their pointless jobs. Presumably they have nothing to defend, only wishing to retain their ratepayer funded salaries.

  17. D'Esterre, 2. January 2021, 11:33

    “….world class creative solutions.” In my view, this phrase is just word salad. I have no idea what any of it means: I doubt that whoever wrote it knows any better than I do. This Council is beginning to sound Clochemerle-ish to me. Time for a commissioner to be appointed.

  18. Neil Kennedy, 2. January 2021, 17:15

    You could not make this Sh*t up. World class creative solutions, Oh Please.

  19. Hel, 2. January 2021, 19:54

    When will the penny drop with these guys, talking about a 23% rates increase which they’ll miraculously pull back to 15% through finding “efficiencies” while they have an ever increasing and bloated payroll cost. These guys wouldn’t need so many comms people writing creative propaganda if they did their job. There should be a recruitment freeze and shedding of non essential roles until they get down to a sensible and affordable rates increase, 3% absolute tops. COVID will be an excuse to do Jack and whack the poor ratepayer while blindly employing creative writers!

  20. Claire, 2. January 2021, 21:14

    Hel the last rates rise was 5% … so that’s about it next time. I agree they need to save money in salaries etc as Auckland has done. But I dont think any of them actually takes the situation and our distrust seriously.

  21. Harold Rodd, 3. January 2021, 7:55

    Pulling the rate increase back to 15% then boasting about it as a marvellous achievement brought about by hard and clever work by councillors is such a nauseating prospect. It is so important that the councillors who don’t own their own properties are no longer complacent and no longer think that rates do not affect tenants.

  22. Andrew H, 3. January 2021, 11:01

    Andy Foster: Do the job you were elected to do, not create a job to make your salary-payers feel better. 3 waters and housing are more important than your empire.

  23. Rayward Chung, 3. January 2021, 15:19

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention Lindsay! This is the sort of thing that I find so frustrating! Public sector salaries went up 13% in the last financial year according to the NZ Herald. Both central and local government continue to give themselves pay increases while the rest of the country have to increase productivity or do something to warrant increases. This is a prime example of the WCC getting yet another spin doctor to try to justify rate increases and inaction on the things that matter like our infrastructure woes!