Wellington Scoop

Not dying, but resting on its laurels

by David Underwood
John Key was wrong again. Wellington is not dying. It may be resting on its laurels but it’s certainly not dying.

As I see it, any present problems are because of the way that Councillors are elected. In earlier times – and I am referring to some 25 years ago – there were no Wards as such. After the elections, the Council was effectively controlled by the local Labour Party or the local Citizens Association.

My involvement was with Citizens which was an independent group of interested Wellington citizens. We were accused of being the National Party in disguise but that was not true and Government policies and politics were not involved. We were there to work for the benefit of Wellington.

We used to raise funds for the campaign and then advertise for candidates right across the city. All applicants were interviewed and full teams were selected for Council, Hospital and Harbour Boards together with a Mayoral candidate. Policy was discussed and agreed with the candidates and the election ticket was then announced.

If Citizens won the majority of seats, the successful candidates then worked together as a team and implemented the agreed policies. I recall that Michael Fowler, now Sir Michael, used to keep the agreed policy handy and checked progress against it on a regular basis.

There was no hidden agenda and all worked together for the benefit of the City and the two Boards.

The Ward system put an end to all that and Wellington is suffering accordingly. Individual councillors need to form a group, decide on a combined policy and work to achieve it. Agree on a majority policy and then get on with its implementation.

Such a move would soon show that Wellington is not dying.

David Underwood is an accountant who lives in Kelburn.


  1. Trish, 21. May 2013, 10:46

    My sentiments exactly. Because we are not voting for a “ticket” with a manifesto, all we get is a bunch of individuals who cannot be held to account. We have to rely on their “common sense”, although people who follow council affairs closely might be able to identify which councillors share their world view.

    But then the problem is that the ward system stops us from voting for individuals we support or against those we want to see gone. Instead, when it comes to issues affecting us directly, the majority of councillors around the table are foisted on us from other parts of the city and totally unaccountable to the residents affected.

    If it is bad enough that representatives from Tawa and Miramar are deciding on Wellington’s inner city matters, under the proposed reforms they will be elected form Upper Hutt and Kapiti. But equally, why should my representatives be deciding the opening hours of the library at Paraparaumu?

  2. The Thinker?, 22. May 2013, 14:54

    Trish, why should people who live in Tawa or Miramar not be involved in deciding on Wellington’s inner city matters? They people they represent through the agreeably flawed ward system most likely work in the CBD, and use at least some of the services provided by the WCC in the CBD.
    The other side of the coin would be to have each ward operate as a Community Board – with individual funding alllocated using the rates from said wards, with the CBD only being able to spend what it gathers from business and inner city appartment owners.
    Thoughts – from anyone are welcomed.

  3. Pauline, 23. May 2013, 7:47

    Thank you David and I agree with Trish re the Ward system and with the poor turn out at the last election (40% I understand). Many ratepayers were not impressed with the same “old faces” and as it is very hard for “new faces” many didnt vote at all.