Wellington Scoop

It was a view – now it’s a wall


by Lindsay Shelton
This is the enormous new building that is walling off the city from the harbour on Waterloo Quay opposite NZ Post House. So different from the skilfully fragile image (below) released by Willis Bond when they were seeking city council approval.


The new building on Site 10 has created a canyon, blocking the panoramic views of the harbour and hills that were such a wonderful introduction to Wellington for thousands of drivers entering the city.


It’s a sad reminder of why 2000 people crammed into the Town Hall in the year 2000 to tell the council they didn’t want their city walled off from the harbour. Mayor Mark Blumsky and his deputy Kerry Prendergast were at the meeting and they got the message. But successive mayors and councillors have chosen to ignore what the public so clearly told them, to the detriment of the city as is shown by the new waterfront building.

The message was repeated in 2012, when the council was told why there shouldn’t be a building on this site.

Barrister Con Anastasiou, representing the company which owned the Post Office House, was prescient with his warning:

The prospect of 100 per cent site coverage … will form an unacceptable visual and physical barrier between the CBD and the waterfront

And he spoke of

… the canyon effect between site 10 and the Post Office building…

Then he got down to basics

The first question that has to be asked is whether there should be a building on site 10 at all. This question is best addressed by a comprehensive space needs assessment and not by a presumption that there will be a building on site 10 … The proposition that ‘buildings can help provide more sheltered, comfortable higher quality public spaces that attract people to the area’ overlooks the fact that shelter, comfort and high quality public spaces can be designed in the absence of buildings.

Arguments which councillors ignored in their eagerness to approve a big new building and to get rid of the harbour views. And which they continue to ignore as they approve another big new building on the adjacent Site 9.


If any of our councillors are going down to Waterloo Quay to see the size of the new building, they’ll be able to see the different between the real thing and the pre-construction drawings that were used to get their approval – the key image is on display on the wall in front of the construction site.


It may be too late – but they should be having second thoughts about allowing the construction of any more new buildings which cut us off from our harbour.


  1. Concerned Wellingtonian, 22. December 2017, 15:37

    Disgraceful! The Council gives up control in these cases and does not even say “foul”. Are they going to do the same with Frank Kitts Park?

  2. Dave B, 22. December 2017, 17:57

    Remember the Queens Wharf Events-Centre and Retail-Centre monstrosities which were foisted on us back in 1995. Our council clearly learned nothing from that fiasco and have now staged an equally ugly repeat.
    Thanks guys. Not.

  3. Traveller, 22. December 2017, 18:48

    Those two buildings became known as “Soviet ablution blocks.” What’ll we name the ugly new canyon that has been created on Waterloo Quay?

  4. Peter Grant, 22. December 2017, 21:26

    You voted the councillors in, and the developers who own them; try again next time and learn from history.

  5. Rumpole, 23. December 2017, 9:09

    Willis Bond also owns the former Retail Centre on Queens Wharf, one of the two “ablution block” buildings that Traveller mentions. How much did they pay for the Site 10 land to erect this ugly enormous office building? The council won’t say.

  6. luke, 23. December 2017, 12:14

    Looks better than the eyesore carparking previously there.

  7. City Lad, 23. December 2017, 17:56

    Luke obviously can’t tell the difference between a car and a mobile motor home. Site 10 was previously a very successful dedicated motor home park earning the council annual net income of over $500,000. The site was then gifted to Willis Bond who will now make millions when selling the massive commercial office building. According to media reports that sale has already occurred, conditional to completion early next year. The council has a lot to answer for.

  8. Lindsay, 23. December 2017, 18:09

    Luke: when the cars (campervans actually) were parked there, you could still see the harbour and the hills. Now all you can see is the solid wall of the new building. I’d prefer the view – a much better introduction to Wellington than a wall.

  9. Andrew, 23. December 2017, 18:16

    1. Next big earthquake, the building will be toast, based on the performance of its contemporary neighbours…

    2. The canyon. Standing on the quay one could be in any city, even one hundreds of kilometres from the coast. A great way to erode the identity of a city.

  10. Rumpole, 23. December 2017, 18:23

    Future generations will wonder who was responsible for treating the waterfront in such a horrible way. Heads should roll now!

  11. luke, 23. December 2017, 22:00

    I think the old motorhome carpark was an eyesore and I prefer the building. Didnt know I had to agree with everybody else.

  12. Nora, 24. December 2017, 9:33

    Sorry Luke you are very much in the minority as the many organisations I belong to all hate it. One of the nearby apartment dwellers told me how she enjoyed meeting and talking with the local and overseas motorhome people, and the nearby retailers were pleased with their shopping.

  13. JC, 25. December 2017, 18:41

    Sorry Nora. All the people I have spoken to think it is a fantastic addition to the landscape.

  14. Traveller, 25. December 2017, 22:45

    JC: those people have a strange idea of what constitutes a landscape. The building doesn’t add to the landscape. It detracts from it, by blocking it.

  15. Henry Filth, 26. December 2017, 3:26

    So there’s the city, then a six lane motorway, then a solid wall of buildings, then a strip of wharf, then the sea. There’s that useless lagoon, Frank Kitts Park, a small pedestrian piazza round the bars near Dockside and. . . . that’s it! The Wellington waterfront is effectively over. The sight of the harbour is reserved for the people in the office buildings that border the water’s edge, and the apartment conversions that will inevitably follow. What a b*gger. It could have worked out so differently and so well. . . .

  16. michael, 26. December 2017, 11:12

    We now stand a good chance of losing our title of “coolest little capital” as it is fast becoming a concrete jungle separated from our glorious harbour. Let’s face it: the councillors don’t give a damn about what Wellingtonians want. They are hell bent on their pet projects, ruining the look of the city to pay for them, and helping to make Willis Bond more money in the process.

  17. Norma McCallum, 26. December 2017, 15:04

    I dont live in Wellington- but it seems to me that given the glorious harbour, given the spirit of the people— how on earth was this travesty allowed to happen?

  18. Henry Filth, 26. December 2017, 16:28

    Can anyone explain WHY the council are so hell-bent on separating the city and the harbour?

  19. mark, 26. December 2017, 19:18

    I don’t understand why people think they have a right to see the sea whilst they’re in their cars. Get out and walk along the waterfront. I’d much rather see this building than a forlorn motorhome park and several decrepit old industrial buildings, which was the view previously.

  20. David J Lee, 27. December 2017, 8:35

    Wellington needs to change its outmoded “Harbour Capital” slogan to the following more realistic and up-to-date one: “Can’t see the harbour Capital”

  21. CC, 27. December 2017, 9:29

    mark (presumably not Willis Bond & Co managing director Mark McGuinness) – here are some points for your consideration:
    1. The only building that was removed from Site 10 was a relatively new and well maintained ablution block.
    2. It is not only car drivers whose views have been removed by the Canyon Wall on the Quays. Thousands of workers, tourists and sightseers walk through that area of town every day.
    3. The ‘forlorn motorhome park’ was a winner for local hospitality, international travelers and the Council coffers. It also proved that green open spaces were feasible in that location.
    4. Contrary to your belief, the citizens of Wellington who own the site that is being leased to the primary benefit of the 1%ers certainly had owners’ rights to see their harbour. The fact that they were deprived by a secret deal done behind closed doors that was rubber-stamped by elected Councillors does not change those rights.
    5. Where do you expect those who you say should get out of their cars and walk through crowded pedestrian/cyclist corridors to view the waterfront will leave their vehicles? Besides, do you really condone the harbour having a similar viewing status to that of a zoo or museum?

  22. David J Lee, 27. December 2017, 15:44

    It is symptomatic of the pro-Willis Bond ‘bureaucratic capture’ in the Wellington City Council that the majority of Green Party councillors voted for this monstrosity. Councillors Free and Lee have also voted for the proposed Willis Bond building on site 9, with the further loss of harbour views.

    In 2014, when these so-called ‘green’ councillors voted for the Willis Bond building on site 10, I wrote to party leader James Shaw questioning their accountability to Green Party principles, which surely must include the protection of public ownership and open space – both of which are and will be lost to those private office buildings. Disappointingly, Mr Shaw told me that the Green Party has “very few definite policy decisions on local issues’. And “what you understand Green principles to be” are “a matter of interpretation”! The lesson of this for well-intentioned Green Party voters is that its politicians (with the honourable exception of Cr Pannett) cannot be relied upon to protect our waterfront. What we need, instead, are more councillors with firm principles and moral courage, such as Diane Calvert.

  23. DBD, 28. December 2017, 12:50

    Thank you Luke for speaking out against the car-centric boomer nimbyism of this blog.

  24. Peter, 28. December 2017, 18:40

    DBD – How did opposing the ‘gifting’ of waterfront space for a developer to create a visual barrier around the harbour become “car-centric boomer nimbyism’? You and Luke are getting a bit carried away with a few myths and histrionics interwoven with deliberate miscomprehension.

  25. Pedro, 29. December 2017, 13:48

    DBD – well said. Nice to see the carpark gone. The city is growing, and like it or not, this includes buildings.

  26. J, 30. December 2017, 16:18

    I am in Auckland south and I hate Auckland. I used to be jealous of Wellington’s people-oriented philosophy; not any more.
    Like rust, corruption and greed never stop. Now Wellington’s becoming Auckland – how sad.

  27. Callum, 16. January 2018, 20:05

    How about getting out of your car and enjoying the view from the other side of the canyon?