Wellington Scoop

Getting things done: Diane Calvert and Simon Woolf seek re-election

Joint media release
Wellington city councillors Diane Calvert and Simon Woolf have formally announced their respective intentions to seek re-election to Wellington City Council at this year’s local government elections.

Simon Woolf, a city councillor for nearly six years, says “Over the past three years, our Council has made good progress on setting out a solid framework to take the city into the future. The improved collegial and collaborative nature and balanced decisions of the Council has ensured most decisions are made by an overwhelming majority. It is a priority for us that this balanced approach continues for the growth of our city”.

Diane Calvert, who is completing her first term of three years, says “It’s a privilege to be able to serve the city and its people. Simon and I have developed a strong working relationship through joint projects in our ward and sharing common views and values across city wide projects. We have made good local progress for our ward and local communities with projects such as the Karori Town Centre placemaking, funding for Khandallah Summer Pool upgrade, along with improving how our city engages. There is still much more to do and we are looking forward to being able to continue to make a positive difference to our local areas and the city as a whole”.

Woolf says “Diane and I bring a wide range of governance and representation skills and experience to our roles with Council. At the end of the day, we each only have one vote out of a total of 15 so being able to influence inside and outside of Council is critical to get things done”.

Both Simon and Diane are keen to continue to hear people’s views on what they want to see for Wellington and will remain focused on ensuring good engagement with all local communities.

Woolf says “Council needs to be more open to listening to dissenting views especially when those views are grounded in expert community knowledge.

What people are telling us is they want the Council, first and foremost, to continue to focus on resilience and key infrastructure such as transport and water. They also want to see our waterfront and CBD made more vibrant and safer. The business sector (commercial and social enterprise) in the CBD and suburban centres are also looking for stronger partnerships and more upfront engagement with the Council.”

The recent issues around Greater Wellington Regional Council’s bus and train services along with delays to the recommended draft programme of investment of the Let’s Get Welly Moving programme (Ngauranga to Airport route), being referred back to Council, have been of growing concern to both Woolf and Calvert. Calvert says “when the transport system fails or is weakened, this impacts on the city’s economic and social fabric. Residents bear the brunt of it and we become less connected in many ways. We would like to see consideration given to forming a Regional Transport Authority with the expertise to improve delivery to the people of not only our city but for the whole Wellington region.”

Woolf says “We want to see Council’s current Decade of Culture programme to be less about buildings’ infrastructure and more about supporting the arts and creativity across all areas of our city. We also want to see more art forms right across our city and not just in the CBD.”

With the growing list of big strategic projects, the front facing side of Council’s business gets squeezed. Woolf and Calvert would like to see increased service levels for our key parks, reserves and community centres and more support for volunteers that contribute to the upkeep of these areas.

Rates are a big issue for people especially when for those on a limited and or fixed income. Calvert says “We will continue to strongly advocate for any ratepayer funding, that is required, supports projects that are relevant to Council’s core role, critical to the success of our city and are affordable.”

We focus our ideas on four key areas;
• A resilient city – water, transport, housing and public amenities
• Engaged communities
• Strong economic growth
• A vibrant creative sector

More details on Woolf and Calvert’s proposed priorities are attached. We are sharing these ideas now with residents and ratepayers for further feedback and comment. Simon and Diane are keen to continue hearing the community’s views about what’s important to them.

Our ideas for sharing and we welcome feedback on what’s important to the community and the city;
Diane Calvert Ph 029 9718944 diane@dianecalvert.nz
Simon Woolf Ph 027 975 3163 simonwoolf@xtra.co.nz

Our Vision
Our vision for Wellington is for it to be the city of creativity and great surprises. We want our city to continue to be the coolest little capital in world that has a strong pride in all its communities and a city that’s offers choice to its people (all ages) on where and how they want to live, work and play.

Key priorities

A resilient city – water, transport, housing and public amenities
• Continue to support initiatives for Wellington Water to improve our water infrastructure for both reliability and population growth ie. Prince of Wales Park – Omāroro Reservoir
• Work with multi-level apartment owners and relevant key stakeholders including government to investigate financial and programme support mechanisms ways to support seismic strengthening of vulnerable homes
• Ensure new housing development mitigates the impacts of climate change through good design
• Work with local communities on developing options to manage climate change e.g. recent engagement with Makara Beach residents, use of subsidised solar panels, water tanks etc
• Continue to support the strengthening of the Town Hall and ensure its main function of a world class auditorium is brought back into use.
• Consider the establishment of a Regional Transport Authority to improve delivery of transport infrastructure and transparency of information to the people, of not only our city but for the whole Wellington region
• Support the development of improved roads, bridges and tunnels from The Terrace through to the airport to improve connections with the east and south and enable safer and more open space within the CBD for pedestrians, cycling and activities.
• Support further development and partnership with central government for public transport to meet the current and future needs of patrons travelling from the CBD through to the east and south of the city. Ensuring any proposed investment has a strong business case, affordable for city ratepayers and not a disproportionate burden.
• Hold our supply partners- Wellington Electricity and Centreport Wellington to account for resilient structures and services
• Retain our city’s social housing and look to partner further with Housing NZ on social housing initiatives
• Partner with commercial providers to develop well-designed and affordable housing to improve supply.
Engaged Communities
• Continue to improve community engagement in setting Council’s priorities and plans
• Support more regular interaction with Councillors amongst community groups through focused forums and advisory groups
• Support Communities to establish their own community plan to connect with Council’s city wide 10 year budget and long term strategies. E.g. Karori Plan
• Provide for Aged and Ethnic Advisory forums to assist with the setting of Council priorities and services (enhancing the current network of other advisory groups)
• Take more services to the people- Improved use of Council facilities to improve engagement with suburban communities e.g. meeting space at libraries, service centres co-existing at Council community centres and or Libraries
• Ensure the current District Plan review delivers on the aspirations of Wellingtonians
• Provide for more transparency, consistency, District Plan adherence and community notification with resource consents such as for recent projects in Ngaio and Miramar
• Revitalise town and village centres through improved master planning of areas, good urban design(placemaking), and supporting local economic growth e.g. Northland, Wadestown & Miramar Peninsula
• Establish a view on the preferred population of Wellington city and surrounding areas to ensure an appropriate city growth strategy is developed.
• Increased service levels for our key parks, reserves and community centres and more support for volunteers that contribute to the upkeep of these areas
• Provide online spatial information of Council projects to enable residents to easily identify current and future activities planned for their suburbs
• Encourage and influence Independent Qualified Mediation as Council’s priority choice for dispute resolution, rather than often expensive litigation.
• Implementing and encouraging cultures and behaviours where Council deals with staff, ratepayers, stakeholders, suppliers and partnerships, in a fair and reasonable manner. The ultimate aim is to introduce a Model Litigant Policy which will assist engagement with various sectors of the Wellington city community without fear or favour.

Strong Economic Growth
• Target part of the Council’s economic development resources within WREDA (which are currently primarily focused on marketing and promotion) to focus on;
o the city’s economic development (commercial and social enterprise) across key sectors
o growing suburban economic development-
• Support the completion of a business case for an indoor arena and associated amenities near the Stadium and public transport links
• Improve engagement with hospitality and retail sectors for mutually beneficial economic growth
• Improve transparency around the City Growth Fund and linkages to key strategic outcomes

A vibrant creative sector
• Assist with nurturing and growing performing arts with affordable facilities to hire for performances
• Establish a “city” of wearable art event – leveraging off the World of Wearable art, look at how our city can “wear” art through sculptures, street art etc
• Develop a cohesive plan for city supported events and festivals to ensure a coordinated annual plan of events spread across the year and city.
• Encourage intellectual property being developed around original creative Wellington inspired events and activities.


  1. Bernard C, 13. February 2019, 9:54

    Sounds to me like these election promises are of the diesel-fumed short-sighted vision type, more of the same old same old council agenda. The WCC does not have enough vision to know what its key role is. Councillors do not act or vote in the interests of the ratepayers. [Abridged]

  2. Meredith, 13. February 2019, 20:54

    Hey Simon and Diane you should read the comments about no progress on the Town Hall on the Opinion page….councillors seem to be living on a different planet from the public, being all lovey dovey around the Council seems to be going nowhere.

    And how are you going achieve that long list in a lifetime let alone 3 years and with the one vote you each have? That’s a bit incredible. Anyway I think you are being mean to your colleague Andy Foster…there are three councillors in your ward..or are you hoping the Labour Candidate will replace him and he will go elsewhere?

  3. William, 13. February 2019, 20:55

    Any interest I had in voting for Calvert or Woolf evaporated after the first 1000 words. What does ‘linkages to key strategic outcomes’ mean? And what is a ‘city of great surprises‘?

  4. Brainy Gal, 13. February 2019, 21:12

    And “encourage intellectual property”..does that mean you two councillors are going to make us all brainy or what? How? By when?

  5. Michael Gibson, 14. February 2019, 9:45

    Meredith – I wonder if a response to your comment about Andy Foster is that he is preparing a challenge for the Mayoralty?
    The present Mayor simply must be replaced and at the moment there is no other good alternative.
    Unlike his previous challenges, Andy on this occasion might be planning to stand only for the Mayoralty and not as a Councillor as well. This would be very sensible.

  6. Lesleigh Salinger, 14. February 2019, 10:36

    Good on you Diane and Simon for taking your roles as Councillors seriously,working collaboratively for the western ward and listening to residents and Karori Residents Association in particular. There are big infrastructural issues arising in the City and forward thinking and ‘big picture’ planning is essential so keep up your advocacy. In your first term Diane you have achieved a future for our suburb through the Karori Plan and we look forward to implementing stage 1 this year.

  7. Paul, 14. February 2019, 12:43

    @ William, the biggest surprise would be the council achieving something useful and not spending our rates money on trying to force poor decisions through the courts fighting against ratepayer groups; the waterfront, Shelley Bay, Airport extension, basin flyover, Chinese garden…. meanwhile the town hall sits vacant and Councillors waste our money on a white elephant convention center. I would love to see the business case and what fantasy figures they have dreamed up to get a return on $150m

  8. Kara Lipski, 14. February 2019, 13:51

    Even though I don’t live in Karori I have seen how hard Diane and Simon have worked on behalf of their constituents in regards to the bustastrophe.

  9. ray, 14. February 2019, 16:07

    they want to see lower rates

  10. Diane Calvert, 14. February 2019, 23:58

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on our ideas. I will address some of the points raised

    @Meridith- You may be pleasantly surprised at the professionalism, variety of views and intensity of debate around the Council Table such as exhibited in the debate today on the Commercial e-scooter trial. The list of ideas for the future we shared in our statement above include some underway, some already planned and some ideas were we want to increase their priority. We are not about disrupting the city with a whole bunch of new ideas, nor spending money that doesn’t exist but building on what is currently there. The ideas we shared, I suspect would be supported by many of our colleagues although they may have different priorities. We continue to work well together with our colleagues across all wards and our statement was from two individuals, not a ward or political party.

    @William- Yes agree “linkages to strategic outcomes” could have been worded better. Essentially what this means is we want it to be clearer to the public where the amount contained within the “City Growth Fund” is allocated and how it links to the Council’s priorities. “city of great surpises” means just that. It means Wellington has stunning art forms that you werent necessarily expecting to see, it means that it offers more recreation actvities that you weren’t expecting to see, it has more job offers than you weren’t expecting to find etc….

    @Brainy Gal I think Wgtn has very “brainy” people already and as mentioned there already exists “expert community knowledge”. Intellectual Property is about ensuring we secure the value of ideas that the city creates in terms of unique events. So if those events are cloned elsewhere, the city should receive adequate benefit – monetary, recognition etc

    @Paul The business case for the Convention centre is publicly available here https://wellington.govt.nz/~/media/your-council/meetings/committees/city-strategy-committee/2018/12/13/20181213-csc-supplementary-agenda.pdf We don’t believe it will be a white elephant and in addition to the building , will also help rejuevenate that part of the city.

    @Ray What we want to see is rates kept as affordable as possible. There is a budget but we have some big construction and resilience projects coming up, Town Hall, Convention centre, Lets Get Welly moving etc which will bring extra pressure. What we don’t want to see is ratepayer money going to new projects that is central government’s responsibility and or not prudent given the tight budget

  11. Marion Leader, 15. February 2019, 9:07

    Diane, what are you doing about stopping money being spent on Frank Kitts Park, apart from any improvements to the playground that is?
    I see that public concern is growing about such expenditure.

  12. michael, 15. February 2019, 13:08

    @ Diane Calvert: Dianne I admire your commitment to keeping rates down but as you state, “we have some big construction and resilience projects coming up, Town Hall, Convention centre, Lets Get Welly moving etc which will bring extra pressure”.
    I find it ironic the council does not seem to accept that a huge part of the “extra pressure” has been caused by their own decisions to continue with the conference centre (especially as the major justification for its viability, the Movie Museum, is not going ahead), look to build another stadium, and other debacles.

  13. Citizen Joe, 15. February 2019, 13:45

    When are all Wellington street names going to be Te Reo?

  14. Diane Calvert, 17. February 2019, 22:12

    @Marion Leader While there is money earmarked in the budget for Frank Kitts, I suspect it won’t be nearly enough given how we have seen construction costs rise over the past couple of years. While I’m very happy to see finally the upgrade of the playground, personally I am not in favour of the proposed extensive redesign of Frank Kitts. We simply can’t afford it and it is not a priority given it is perfectly adequate now. I agree there is growing public concern over this.
    @Michael I voted for the conference centre and believe it will be successful. I think it is important to also consider what it will be do to rejuvenate the wider precinct. With a quality building going in, this will encourage neighbouring landowners to also look at how they develop their land/buildings plus it will also assist our very important hospitality and retail sectors. The impact will be increasing property values and more rates income. This will help offset the costs of the convention centre.

  15. michael, 18. February 2019, 10:14

    Diane, thank you for your response. my main point is that the “extra pressure” the council finds itself under is directly related to their decisions to build structures such as the new conference centre when there are other pressing requirements.
    Like many ratepayers, I am not able to sustain much more in the way of rates increases to ease the council’s extra fiscal pressure! Which, if this venture fails, or does not reach the dizzy heights expected in the business case, we will be expected to pay the deficit every year. Also, as the business case is based on numerous bookings for larger conferences/conventions, given the shortfall in hotel beds in Wellington, where are the 1,000s of delegates attending expected to stay?

  16. aom, 18. February 2019, 10:15

    But Diane, how did you feel about the ‘behind closed doors’ uncontested deal for the land acquisition and building of the conference centre?

  17. michael, 18. February 2019, 10:36

    @Dianne. The conference centre business case was initially based on collaboration with the Movie Museum which would have given the council a defined rental income and increased interest.

  18. Keith Flinders, 18. February 2019, 11:21

    Conference Centre: Ratepayers might have been convinced had the WCC asked for expressions of interest from private operators of such to build and run the proposed Wellington one. Had private developers tripped over each other then that would have been a good indication that such was viable. Instead we have 15 councilors, none with published proven commercial experience, making a decision on something they don’t understand. For a start a conference centre needs hotel room availability and Wellington is short of such now.

    A private hotel development with a conference centre incorporated, and on the ratepayer owned site would bring in rates as well ground lease fees. No exposure to staff and other costs from a vanity WCC folly.

    In the meantime ratepayer owned infrastructure isn’t being maintained. Then there is the question of a fixed price to strengthen the Town Hall. Why haven’t we seen this ?