Wellington Scoop

“Unacceptable, unethical, unfair:” Helene Ritchie opposes plan to spend $1million

Media release from Cr Helene Ritchie
It is absolutely unacceptable and unethical and unfair for Council to use ratepayer funds to fight its own ratepayers, Councillor Helene Ritchie said today in response to the proposal that the Wellington City Council co-fund an application for resource consent approvals process to extend Wellington Airport’s runway. She said that the Council should not be co-funding an application for resource consents.

It is very likely that there will be significant ratepayer and resident objection to the extension of the runway into Evans Bay.

Council has repeatedly wasted ratepayers’ funds in Court in the past, fighting its own ratepayers (and losing) especially but not only in relation to the waterfront.

Council should stand aside from the process. It is conflicted.

Wellington City Councillors were told of this proposal in a secret tete-a-tete today, but the Council has yet to make a decision, or even see or hear officer advice.

The compromising of Wellington’s competitive difference – its natural environmental – for dubious so-called economic gain will be severely tested by this completely unnecessary expenditure and major environmental damage.

Wellington City is one of the few Capitals in the world where business can be carried out just 15 minutes from the Airport to the CBD.

Within half an hour, international visitors can get to Wellington from Auckland-in less time than takes to get to downtown Auckland.

Wellington is losing significant parts of its natural environment – the Town Belt – with proposals to widen Ruahine St into it and to double the Mt Victoria Tunnel.

Eastern Suburbs residents have been long suffering in the last few months, with a relatively small construction project – the improvements in Kilbirnie Centre. The Airport extension and massive roading works will turn the Eastern Suburbs into a construction site for many years.



  1. Hel, 23. May 2013, 23:17

    Wow talk about keeping an open mind. In one breath she hasn’t seen or heard the proposal and then in next she shoots it down. One thing I do agree with is the competitive advantage of having an airport just 15 minutes from the CBD; it would be a significant advantage if international flights could land at our airport.

  2. Helene Ritchie, 24. May 2013, 7:25


    Councillors were all told of the proposal verbally by the mayor, as the statement above says, in a secret meeting just prior to a press release going out.
    The Council has yet to hear from advisers, (early evening we were then emailed a report) to question them, to debate it and to make a decision.

    Helene Ritchie

  3. Ian Apperley, 24. May 2013, 13:44

    Rampant electioneering.

    First off, I agree it is time to extend the airport.

    However, the fact is that the airport has been a shocking neighbour over the past few years with them effectively closing a local school, ghettoising housing in the area, breaking agreements with the community, and generally being a pain in the arse.

    My point is this: Where has Helene Richie been in the last three years after repeated calls by the community to the Council to do something? The answer to that is: Nowhere.

    So to turn up now or tooth and nail is just disingenuous.

  4. Helene Ritchie, 24. May 2013, 19:59

    Dear Ian,

    I am really sorry that the Airport is such a bad neighbour to you.

    Some time ago I established a coalition of all Eastern Suburbs residents groups and the Golf Club with the aim, in a major campaign, of stopping the airport (through its then Master Plan), from taking the Miramar Golf Course and many houses, and turning them into Airport land. We were ultimately successful in getting that Master Plan and those plans withdrawn then.

    You ask where I have been in the last three years-well I have been around the Council table, and around Wellington, representing my Northern Ward, and representing the constituency I have on the Health Board of 250,000 people approximately from Wellington to Kapiti.
    I have worked hard in the best interest of the whole of Wellington and the District, focusing on the natural environment which is my portfolio and Health and as well all matters related to the governance of the Capital that I either initiate or come before me and us for decision.

    Ian you have never raised your issues with me so I do not know what they are, or what I could about them. You have your own ward councillors – perhaps you have raised these issues with them, or could. You also have a Council representative on the Airport Board – Councillor McKinnon.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish, and I will see what I can do. I do not have a crystal ball and cannot guess what each of thousands of people in Wellington might want to raise with me, and have me do.

    Electioneering?? Well – no. There are no votes for me for Council in the Eastern Suburbs. People in the Northern Ward, not Eastern, vote for me for Council.

    Kind regards
    Helene Ritchie

  5. Ian Apperley, 25. May 2013, 8:48

    Hi Helene,

    I’m really pleased that you took the time to respond. I think your answers are interesting and you raise some questions that clearly need to be answered.

    You say that you don’t know what the issues are out here, so I can only assume that you’ve been on holiday for quite a long part of your term.

    The sign. I’m not sure how you missed that, it made international news. The point there was that the Airport, of which the WCC is a major part, refused for weeks to listen to the community that culminated in protests and a backdown.

    Then there was the road. The road that the Council “gifted” to the WIAL at some point without anyone seeming to know about it. The road that the WIAL agreed to keep open for residents of Eastern Suburbs. The road that will be closed this year so that the WIAL can make more money from parking. Also generating protests. And yes, Leonie Gill got involved, she was “outraged” though the real outrage was the fact that one of your colleagues was, and still is, sitting on the WIAL Board and being paid handsomely for it. I think, in some countries, that would be called a conflict of interest.

    The airport is frequently in the local news, national news, and blog sites. Nationally it is considered to be a profiteering company.

    You said; “Some time ago I established a coalition of all Eastern Suburbs residents groups and the Golf Club with the aim, in a major campaign, of stopping the airport (through its then Master Plan), from taking the Miramar Golf Course and many houses, and turning them into Airport land.”

    Given that you don’t get out this way that much from the sounds of it, you’d be interested to know that while the few dozen of the tens of thousands of eastern suburbs residents have guaranteed access to the golf club, your housing moves have come to nothing. If you drive down the side of the airport (you get a bit of time given the traffic is at standstill half the day), you’ll see empty houses, gathering dust, that the airport has bought and is still buying today. As with the streets back from the airport. You’ll also notice on the Western side that most of the houses have been removed now in certain streets. The airport, most assuredly, is not moving away from its long term plan.

    So they have been a bad neighbour. What I don’t get is why you are turning up now to slam the airport extension when you clearly are distancing yourself from all the issues that have gone on in this Council’s term? I think that appears to be rather like electioneering.

    Oh, and for the record, I’m behind the extension and I live here. I think that this city desperately needs some revitalisation instead of the continued waffle about what we could be by the Mayor and some of the Councillors.