Wellington Scoop

The woman who wishes she was mayor

Raewyn Bleakley seems to wish that she was the mayor. This has been obvious in eight of her (many) recent press releases, and is most obvious in her extraordinarily dictatorial article today in the DomPost.

She’s chief executive officer of the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, and she keeps her viewpoint narrow. She instructs the re-elected mayor that the city must have new businesses, more jobs, and more growth. She wants rates for businesses to be further reduced. She wants city assets to be sold. She sees no problems with the Spine Study. And of course she sees no problems with the flyover. But she sees other problems, though they are selective ones.

In today’s DomPost article, she claims that “confidence has taken a knock,” and ignores her own survey in which the Chamber’s members report that business confidence has taken a sharp upturn. She also ignores the recent ANZ survey which reports that Wellington has held its lead as “the confidence capital” and small firms are preparing to take on more staff and lift investment for an expected uplift in business activity. And she’s forgotten the MYOB survey which reports that the Wellington City Council is the most successful in the country for supporting local businesses.

Instead she chooses to quote an unspecified “recent economic survey” which she says shows only six per cent of households are expecting good economic times. It’s the only mention of households in an article that otherwise focuses solely on business interests.

She demands that the council enhance its relationship with central government. “Not engaging is not an option,” writes Raewyn Bleakley this morning, choosing to forget the statement by the Prime Minister that he sees mayor Celia Wade-Brown as often as he sees Auckland’s Mayor Len Brown and “we’ve worked very effectively with her.”

In today’s DomPost article, Raewyn Bleakley expands on her fierce weekend press release, in which she tells Celia Wade-Brown that the Chamber will be holding her to her promises. She congratulates the winner, but it’s a grudging message, as she says the mayor was re-elected “despite a number of criticisms levelled at the council over the past three years.” It’s obvious that this isn’t the result that the Chamber was hoping for.

It’s also obvious why Celia Wade-Brown was elected as mayor for a second term – because she champions a wider and more inclusive range of issues than the narrow ones of the Chamber of Commerce.

In her victory speech on Saturday night, the mayor spoke of job growth and population growth but she also spoke about warm dry affordable housing, affordable public transport, improving cycling facilities, the return of native wildlife, celebrating arts successes, centres of excellence as an attraction for students, and of course the living wage. She doesn’t want traffic growth to overwhelm our sense of place. She recognises Wellington’s built and natural environments as beautiful and special.

She talks about the need for a significant and sustainable heritage fund, on which she says work is advanced. She agrees that the council can work better with central government and businesses, but adds: “We must also work even better with … residents, volunteers, social services and education.”

Everyone counts, says Celia Wade-Brown, beginning her second term as mayor of Wellington. It’s a message which appeals to many more people than the narrow view of Raewyn Bleakley.


  1. Dave Armstrong, 14. October 2013, 10:53

    If the Chamber of Commerce wants to stay relevant, they should look past cutting rates and selling assets as the cure for Wgtn’s ills [via Twitter]

  2. CPH, 14. October 2013, 10:57

    I was astounded by Raewyn Bleakley’s bare-faced rudeness to the Mayor. Bleakley would do well to remember that Wellington is run as a democracy, not as an oligarchy that responds only to the whims of unelected overpaid lobbyists like her.

  3. Grace lamb, 14. October 2013, 11:28

    Extraordinary arrogance from Ms Bleakley! It’s a good thing that voters in Wellington saw past her one-eyed rhetoric, and poorly informed sources of information. Thanks for putting the record straight here. Remember the wise words from two top businessmen that if you build cities for people’s needs business will follow. Go figure Ms Bleakley and accept the will of the people has prevailed.

  4. CC, 14. October 2013, 19:49

    Do all of the Chamber of Commerce members think their CEO should control the Council and that the ratepayers should front up with the cash for her Quixotic schemes to enhance their bottom lines?

  5. Nora, 14. October 2013, 23:31

    This rudeness from Raewyn Bleakley shows how little respect she has when she does not get her own way. Ratepayers did not vote for her and the majority want the basics before the “luxuries” she is suggesting.

    At the Strategy & Policy Committee meeting on the 22nd August, when she and her associate Jeremy Harding representing the Chamber of Commerce addressed the meeting on Report 5 – Basin Bridge Project Proposal – Approach to Submission and Board of Inquiry Process, she was adamant the Flyover ie Bridge should go ahead. However when a councillor asked her if they had consulted with their members, after a whispering session with her colleague she had to say not recently, in fact 2009 was mentioned, but they had been elected to the Board and intimated they made the decision. And now she seems to think she can dictate to our Mayor. I agree with with Grace “the will of the people has prevailed”

  6. Rosamund, 15. October 2013, 13:50

    In the interests of transparency it is time that we were told how many paid up members are being represented by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce in the person of its CEO.

    Wellington City Council regularly asks the same question of representative groups making submissions. Groups are also asked if they have consulted their membership. There appears to be no evidence that the executive officers of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce have asked their membership for their views on any of the topics raised in press releases by their CEO.

    The newly elected representatives are not creatures of any lobby group. They have been elected to represent the people of Wellington. Hopefully the new elected Mayor and councillors will question everything and accept nothing without evidence.

  7. John Clarke, 15. October 2013, 14:49

    I think it’s a bit rich for the chamber of commerce to be lecturing the city council on the need to create jobs. According to their own rhetoric it’s the private sector that creates jobs and wealth not the terribly bloated public sector they’re always criticising. Perhaps the chamber of commerce should stop asking for handouts and start on running their own businesses to grow Wellington’s economy!

  8. SJA, 15. October 2013, 18:27

    I thought that dictatorships were dead and buried. Since when has the ratepayer been answerable to a corporate body of tea cuppers?

  9. Paul Y, 22. October 2013, 0:18

    Hmm. Does Raewyn Bleakley have a conflict of interest when it comes to the spine study and other transport projects?


    “Bus and Coach Association New Zealand chief executive Raewyn Bleakley will take the reins within the next few months after 4 years at the transport organisation.

    She is also acting chief executive of the Rental Vehicle Association.”

    Does she retain any involvement with these lobby groups?