Wellington Scoop

Why I voted for Shelly Bay (1)

by Cr Teri O’Neill
My duty is to the Eastern ward people, to young people – and personally as a pākēha councillor, my duty is to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations. This has been a very difficult decision to make – I know that my decision will have disappointed people but I am proud to support mana whenua and I stand by my decision.

Over the last year, a large amount of information has been presented and my understanding of the issue, legal, consenting and process have deepened.

I believe for everyone in the East, it is in our best interests to have a diverse, inclusive and thriving city. There have been several questions and concerns raised with me on both sides from people who support and do not support the development.

I made my decision in the end by meeting with anyone and absolutely everyone from the ward who wanted to have my ear. I have listened carefully to all the various parties respectfully.

There are two key large things that have weighed on my mind throughout this process:

Recreation, Transport, public space and infrastructure:

The ratepayer can be assured that we will be paying maximum $10m on infrastructure costs, sea wall repair and heritage protection is in place and will become a contractual requirement of any development agreement.

I would also like to acknowledge that Wellington has many open and lovely spaces, though there is a difference in public and private land, and land that is generally owned versus land given as a treaty settlement. Iwi and hapū have made many sacrifices for pākehā – as a colleague of mine Cr Paul said, ‘- iwi have sacrificed some of their most precious whenua to create our roads, our schools, our hospitals.’

It is important to me to support Maori economic development and housing.

Mana Whenua

In the end of the day, WCC are not equipped to mediate or determine a grievance within Taranaki Whānui iwi. If the Mau Whenua case succeeds next year – then we can exit the deal. Council needs to do better at valuing maori in our city – and partnership starts with built relationships with people coming from both sides.

We could not delay our decision as doing so would continue to allow harm of tangata whenua to see families torn down and fights litigated in the paper every day. Not to mention the developer can still hold us to the clear decision from the full agreement of the council commitment to sell and lease the land in 2017, and the full resource consent to build in 2017.

The vote that took place on the 11th was on the key commercial terms to which we sought conditions to support the road, seawall and public space obligations. The KCT also outlines significant “off ramps” to allow an exit of the deal.

I understand that on both sides there are very valid concerns – I have been on a journey to support and not support the development but at the end of the day and in the balance of considering many issues, meeting with many people and on all the information I have I went with the decision to support the KCTs of the council land at Shelly Bay.

My values, listening to the views of the community are why I made this decision to support the Iwi partnership at Shelly Bay.

I do appreciate everybody’s want and love to protect the peninsula. I will likely be organising a meet up sometime next week for a more in-depth kōrero for people who might want to have some more questions answered.

Teri O’Neill is a Wellington City Councillor for the Te Motu Kairangi / Eastern ward



  1. TrevorH, 13. November 2020, 19:27

    You ignored the concerns of your Eastern Ward constituents about congestion and other serious environmental issues.

  2. Toni, 13. November 2020, 19:55

    I cannot see how you are supporting mana whenua when a significant group of iwi members who oppose the sale of the land have taken their case to court. The respectful and thoughtful action should have been to delay any decision until the court case had been settled, particularly as your duty is not only to tangata whenua, but also to the Eastern ward people you made a significant public commitment to. And, if the court case is won, what is that going to cost the WCC as far as exiting the deal is concerned, as by that time major work will have commenced?

  3. Jouer, 13. November 2020, 20:18

    Good on you Teri, right decision. The naysayers are a pocket full and pop up city wide. Councillors with courage and a vision for the future are just what Wellington needs.

  4. Peter Kerr, 13. November 2020, 20:48

    The claim to be supporting mana whenua is disingenuous and risky to rate-payers, as Toni points out above. Poor Easterners. Carry on with the fight.

  5. Claire, 13. November 2020, 21:00

    Jouer most people are against this, in its current form. I am afraid you are in the minority.

  6. aom, 13. November 2020, 23:39

    Te Tiriti has no part in this matter at all. The Trust used its first right of refusal to acquire the land, then on-sold it at a loss to the Wellington Company. So … end of the Iwi contribution to the story – full stop! The developer did a purchase that is rightly being challenged in Court. The Wellington Company appeared to have scored a gold-plated deal through a council agency that those who have been watching and have challenged over its behind closed door operations, consider to be questionable. Andy Foster has been around long enough to know where the skeletons are buried. You must also be aware that a significant share of your election vote was based on your pre-election declaration. As for the statement “WCC are not equipped to mediate or determine a grievance within Taranaki Whānui iwi,” resolving the antics of the Trust Board is now a matter for the Courts. In its decision, the Council has shown disrespect of due process by preemptively supporting one party to the grievance, especially since Wira Gardiner, in an official capacity, has provided a salutary decision regarding the Trust which has established a history of being under more clouds than the city on a rainy day. [Abridged.]

  7. aom, 13. November 2020, 23:58

    Jouer – thank you for your pocket load of four and twenty blackbirds, which seem a pocket full of wry! So far, this Council has demonstrated a lack of insight, little vision and a surfeit of political posturing. At least three including a couple of newbies have have flushed themselves out for a pull on the Mayoral chains.

  8. Bruce Greenfield, 14. November 2020, 3:53

    You clearly came down on the side of a minority group (called “PNBST”) within the group of iwis termed “Taranaki Whanui”. TW is also the name used by PNBST and a company they setup in support of the developer they sold the land to, excluding 12K of the 19K from the electoral process and ignoring the 4 AGMs and 2 AGMs when every time the vote went against PNBST. With your vote, bulldozers may go in prior to their court case, which is the last democratic and peaceful means of them exercising their responsibilities to their land. This is a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and bears many of the hallmarks of the original 1860s breach, including the names involved and not understanding who had the right to “sell” land.

  9. D'Esterre, 14. November 2020, 15:06

    When you were elected last year, you stated in a text to Stuff: “I 100 per cent do not support the Shelly Bay development as it stands.” Nothing about the development has changed since. In what way will this development benefit young people? It was never an affordable housing development: using HASHAA to approve it was sleight of hand on the part of Council officers. And how does your vote to sell/lease land owned by ratepayers in any way support the Treaty? At present, the developer owns all of the other land in Shelly Bay. Moreover, we do not know to which entity the Council will be selling/leasing the land. It seems likely thatthe Council itself doesn’t know this, either.

    “….we will be paying maximum $10m on infrastructure costs, sea wall repair and heritage protection…” We’ve heard this sort of assurance many times before. I will believe it when I see it. A great deal more scepticism would be wise.

    “It is important to me to support Maori economic development and housing.” How will the Council’s decision have any effect on these issues? None of the land is now iwi-owned.

    “…not equipped to mediate or determine a grievance within Taranaki Whānui iwi.” With its vote, the Council has come out in favour of the developer, and of PNBST which sold the land. So: not mediating, but definitely declaring which side it’s on.

    “If the Mau Whenua case succeeds next year – then we can exit the deal.” Right. If development has proceeded at pace, the former Council land may well have infrastructure – structures, even – on it. And you can bet your boots that ratepayers will have to stump up for the costs. I have long thought that the proposed Shelly Bay development is a mistake. That’s purely for environmental reasons. It seems to me that climatic events have overtaken this proposal. If there were to have been residential development there, it ought to have begun a century or so ago, not now. The area can be built on, but it by no means follows that it ought to be built on.

  10. Ruth, 14. November 2020, 16:36

    Teri I voted for you because you said you would vote no on this issue. The time for doing your thinking was before you took my vote.

  11. Marion Leader, 15. November 2020, 8:12

    Ruth, when I saw Teri’s election statement about Shelly Bay I was certain that she had done her thinking. Her promise was quite clear and lots of voters depended on it.

  12. Eamon Lyons, 15. November 2020, 10:20

    Thank you to our council for finally removing this albatross from around the neck of our city. A problem that a previous government landed on Wellington which we’ve being paying for yearly. Shelley Bay is a mess and this vote means our city can move forward and leave this issue behind. Future cost to the ratepayer is being removed with this sale, save for council’s statutory obligations. Thanks Councillor Teri O’Neill for having the guts to vote with your knowledge and conscience. [via Facebook]

  13. Local, 15. November 2020, 11:16

    Wrong Eamon. A previous government did not land this on the Council at all. The Council landed it on itself. Also it is not correct that future ratepayer cost is being removed. Off now for a last(?) Sunday brunch in the sun at that wonderful institution the Chocolate Fish – on Shelly Bay.

  14. Polly, 15. November 2020, 12:18

    Agree Local, took our family (7 of them) to Chocolate Fish a weekend ago and had a wonderful time, not to mention a wonderful lunch …. The only building restored – sad to see the old empty ones in need of repair.

  15. Leviathan, 15. November 2020, 17:12

    Eamon – you couldn’t be farther from the truth if you tried. Far from removing the city from liability for costs, the developer stands to make all the profits and the Council will be liable for massive future infrastructure costs – the road is inadequate already, and will need to be widened, raised, strengthened, and all new services laid, along with major new intersection with Miramar / Cobham Drive. WCC will have to spend tens of millions but stand to make zero profits from the deal.

    Not to mention years of lawsuits between the parties – all of whom will blame the Council.

  16. michael, 15. November 2020, 18:32

    @Eamon Lyons: This development will cost the council. Even though it is normal for a developer to pay for the infrastructure, WCC agreed that the Council and Shelly Bay Ltd would pay $10million each for the cost of public infrastructure improvements (including the Council-owned seawall and public road) and public space development. In addition, if after monitoring, the road is not fit for purpose then the council will have to fully meet any costs of road improvements that exceed the agreed budget. Note: In 2019 the DomPost cited $93million as a rough estimate by quantity surveyors Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) of the cost of the infrastructure including roading and retaining walls, to the site.

  17. K, 15. November 2020, 22:36

    I’ve only been to Shelly Bay a couple of times – definitely appears to me as a craphole of a place. I think the development looks absolutely fantastic by comparison and I am looking forward to spending time there if/when it is completed.

  18. Russell Tregonning, 17. November 2020, 16:35

    Clr O’Neil. I note from your Eastern Ward candidate profile before the last WCC elections that your aims ( among others) were to: promote a more liveable Wellington city, to be achieved by reducing reliance on the private car; and … mode shift & safety – protected cycle lanes …
    Your voting for the current Ian Cassels development at Shelly Bay is for a new housing area which will be car-dependent, as there is no credible public transport plan. You also supported this development which has no definitive plan for a protected cycle and walking lane. You have acted contrary to your pre-election promises. Thus my major disappointment. I now am having difficulty in putting any faith in your judgement. Please be consistent.