Wellington Scoop

The sportsman who wants to be mayor

John Morrison’s campaign to become mayor of Wellington got off to an awkward start last week when he was pre-empted on two of the “key matters” which he said needed action.

His “key matters” are expansion of Wellington Airport’s runway, and regional governance. He said it’s time for them both “to be resolved”. But other people have taken the lead in seeking resolution for both of them.

On the same day that he announced his mayoral ambitions, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown unveiled a plan for the council to spend $1million helping the Wellington Airport company pay for a resource consent seeking approval for a longer runway. No doubt Councillor Morrison will vote for this at Wednesday’s council meeting. But the council’s generous move will make it difficult for him to campaign on the need for “decisiveness and action” on this issue.

On his key matter of regional governance, Councillor Morrison specifies that he’s thinking of amalgamation reforms. This topic has also taken an unexpected leap forward because the mayors of the Wairarapa’s three councils have lodged an application to amalgamate, but outside any supercity. Their move seems to have kick-started the process towards a decision on whether or not some of the region’s local administrations will merge. Again, without Councillor Morrison being needed to push things along.

Another of his concerns is that the council should be focusing on “jobs and opportunities and energising people.” This is surprising – he must have forgotten that last June he voted for the council’s grand plan to create 10,000 new jobs in the next two years. Or perhaps he has doubts about whether the strategy is working. Let’s expect him to explain why he no longer has confidence in it. And what alternative he’s planning.

He will, however, have been pleased to see the results of a survey which said that Wellington’s IT staff are “happier and better paid” than their Auckland counterparts. The survey also found that over 70 per cent of Wellington private sector IT employers are planning to take on new staff this year, while 69 per cent of public sector employers are planning to recruit IT workers too.

If it’s going to be difficult for him to attack employment issues, then what’s left for Councillor Morrison to campaign about? More spending on sport, perhaps?

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who has frequently been the subject of criticism from Councillor Morrison, gave one of her characteristically muted responses to the announcement that he would be running against her for the mayoralty. “It’s a sign of a healthy democracy to have a strong mayoral race.” But then she came up with a back-handed compliment: “I’ve enjoyed working with him on many sports initiative such as the artificial sports fields and sports games.” Which seems to be rather painting the ex cricketer into a corner – do we want a mayor whose main experience is sport?

This does seem to be how he sees himself. Here’s how he lists his achievements of the last three years:

Great range of events and sporting contests, new Indoor Stadium, Basin Reserve upgrade, Nairnville Park artificial playing surface, Karori Park upgrade, Khandallah Hall upgrade, New Khandallah community centre, Khandallah Village upgrade, new “learn to swim” opportunities, sportsfield strategy to introduce new artificial playing surfaces, leisure cards for seniors, Rugby World Cup preparations.

Nine out of his twelve council achievements (in his own summary) are sporting ones. It seems that Mayor Wade-Brown, in her usual low-key style, has made a valid point against her mayoral contender.


  1. Trish, 27. May 2013, 9:54

    That is a great list of achievements during “Mystery” Morrison’s time as a councillor. I note that they all involve spending large amounts of ratepayers money for the benefit of a small group who play sport on grounds provided by the council. Could he remind us how much the council subsidises each cricket player? My recollection is that it is more than $30 for each game.

    But, of course, Morrison has consistently opposed council support for Zealandia.

  2. John Clarke, 27. May 2013, 10:22

    That’s not entirely fair … John Morrison has other achievements to his name, like endorsing St Laurence Finance, which went under owing investors $212 million. Now that’s the sort of commercial acumen we need leading the city!


  3. Jack Ruben, 27. May 2013, 11:38

    I am looking forward to a mayoral contest where we, the voters, can make informed decisions on the candidates based on their past record. Slogans, one-liners, slick publicity, and other gimmicks wont impress.
    I want to see verifiable claims of suitability for the highest office in governing Wellington, the most important of which, in my opinion, include commercial successes (or otherwise), and the proven ability to lead a unified team. So start by listing past enterprises providing the experience needed to lead a complex organisation like WCC.
    Wellington City Council is probably one of the largest service providers in Wellington. I want someone who will unite, lead with integrity, reflect the views of all the ratepayers, and also has a record in (voluntary) service to the community.
    So I challenge Cllr Morrison, the other (so far) declared candidates, and all future ones, to provide us voters with facts on which we can decide a choice, not simply more slogans and slick publicity.

  4. Sridhar, 27. May 2013, 11:49

    Oooops! that was not a good start for John Morrison.

  5. Tony, 27. May 2013, 11:58

    If Scoop is to be a “Vote Celia for Mayor” election site, could not the author of this article at least sign his or her name ? Readers deserve an understanding of the affiliation and track record of the writer.

  6. Jack Ruben, 27. May 2013, 19:14

    You make an interesting point Tony about some writers to Wellington.Scoop remaining anonymous. I fully support your wish for readers deserving an understanding of the affiliation and track record of the writer, – so why don’t you sign your name? Double standards perhaps?

  7. KB, 27. May 2013, 22:25

    @Tony fail. Perhaps you need to read the title of this section (the large writing at the topof the page) which clearly displays the author’s name.

  8. Pollyanna, 27. May 2013, 23:58

    When Mr Morrison stood against Kerry Prendergast she referred to him as an Indian book maker and then apologised and corrected herself by calling him an Indian book keeper! Despite that and some generous appointments all was forgiven and he supported her 100% through her period as Mayor.

    Having read the website referred to by John Clarke, it looks like his book keeping skills have not improved.

  9. Curtis Nixon, 28. May 2013, 0:28

    @Tony – the words
    “Wellington.Scoop with Lindsay Shelton” at the top of this page are there to show readers that Mr Shelton is the author. I think.

  10. John Clarke, 28. May 2013, 13:36

    Tony – I presume you’ve also written to the Dominion Post suggesting that their editorial writers should sign their names to their regular We-Hate-Celia-And-Love-Roads tirades? And if not, why not?

  11. Lee, 28. May 2013, 22:17

    He’s the former cricket player who wants that awful flyover at the Basin?

  12. Sridhar, 29. May 2013, 15:19

    @ Jack + Tony. how does it matter who wrote the article? Is your opinion going to be based on the author? I would rather base my opinion on facts and figures. Obviously, you didn’t get anything to counter what is written here and hence now trying to attack the author’s credibility.

    I like John Clarke’s counter on Tony’s requirement.

  13. Jack Ruben, 29. May 2013, 19:02

    Sridhar, you have misunderstood my comments. I would like to know who Tony really is – not the author of the article which I know was Lindsay.
    Candidates often get surrogates to front for them, and Tony’s attack on Lindsay’s article – “vote for Celia for mayor election site” – leads me to suspect he is just that: a Morrison acolyte. If so, you are not doing him any favours. I am supporting your suggestion for disclosure, not opposing it.

  14. Sridhar, 31. May 2013, 10:44

    I get it Jack, Sorry! But then how do you reckon Tony is someone else 🙂

  15. Jack Ruben, 1. June 2013, 10:21

    Thanks Sridhar. In matters as important as mayoral (and even council) elections, signing one’s name adds credibility to the views expressed. I know for a fact that certain mayoral candidates orchestrate alleged support by getting individuals to sign letters they never wrote.
    We all remember the so-called anonymous donations to certain mayoral candidates last time round! A disgraceful, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to rort the system.
    Let’s all cooperate in trying to clean up the whole process, – otherwise those with the most money have an unfair advantage. That does not enable the best candidates to get elected..

  16. John Clarke, 6. June 2013, 21:33

    According to Stuff, John Morrison didn’t even bother turning up for the vote on the super city! Hope he doesn’t expect to be taken seriously when it comes to voting time.

  17. Nora, 7. June 2013, 9:20

    Over the years, Mr Morrison may well not have been present as he rarely contributed, too busy reading papers, texting, passing notes with accompanying giggles! Mind you he was not the only one, Cr Gill addressing envelopes for her Christmas card mail out to the ward. It would be interesting to see attendance records of all councillors.
    Should be compulsory for ratepayers to attend at least 4 meetings a year to watch the performance of their representatives.

  18. Hayley Robinson, 7. June 2013, 22:35

    Or we could film Council meetings that are open and have them available via the World Wide Web. As a bonus, it would mean we could check the accuracy of media headlines regarding what happened at each meeting.