Wellington Scoop

Councillors being asked to support Fale Malae, as well as Chinese Garden, on waterfront park

fale marae

News from WCC
The Wellington City Council’s Pūroro Āmua Planning and Environment Committee will next Thursday consider three options for resolving the quake-prone car park building in Frank Kitts Park and supporting the next stage of the nationally-important Fale Malae on the waterfront.

The car park building affects planned or potential development in the wider park, which is why a decision needs to be made now. Plans include:

. replacing the children’s playground in January;

. creating a Chinese Garden, which shares a structural wall with the car park;

. a potential proposal from the Fale Malae Trust to develop a Fale Malae in the park. The Trust would carry out public engagement on this proposal if it is successful in securing funding support from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

“Wellington’s waterfront is an iconic space dear to the heart of Wellingtonians,” says Mayor Andy Foster.

“The advice is we need to address the quake-prone car park building. We have the proposal for the Chinese Garden, which has consent, and one for a Fale Malae. Both proposals, if they were to proceed, would require seismically solid foundations. Both proposals hold great importance to significant parts of our community.

“The importance of Frank Kitts Park and the deep passion Wellingtonians have for the park means there will almost certainly be a need for significant engagement in due course regardless of which direction is ultimately chosen. This will be vital in achieving a coherent development plan that safeguards the look and feel of this treasured space in our city,” says Mayor Foster.

“We have heard for many years from Pasifika communities about the need for a Fale Malae for the city and it is time to honour this request,” says Committee Chair Councillor Iona Pannett.

“We need to make this decision so the Fale Malae Trust can continue the design process, which would include public consultation and seek funding from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

“This would enable the vision for iconic, recognisable Pasifika architecture on the capital’s waterfront which holds special importance to Pasifika communities. It would also provide publicly accessible open spaces on a site with geotechnical challenges due to the challenges of building on reclaimed land subject to climate change. Any engineering work done will need to be done to a very rigorous standard.

“Wellingtonians value green open spaces and with an ever-increasing inner-city population, the need for open public space will only grow. This building will be a public one with extensive open space around it, with plans to create more green space in our CBD. A green network plan will be debated by the committee in less than a month’s time to meet this need,” says Cr Pannett.

The Council stopped using the car parking building for large public events such as the Wellington Underground Market and Homegrown, in early 2020. This followed an engineering assessment which rated it earthquake-prone.

Council officers say the investment required to strengthen the 30-year-old car park would be uneconomic. Estimates from March 2021 predict that to achieve an NBS (New Building Standard) rating of 34% or lower would cost around $10.5 million, and $18 million for an NBS of 67% or less. An NBS of 67% is in line with expectations for a high-use public building to enable public safety in the event of an earthquake. These estimates do not include costs for landscaping on top of the car park, demolition and building consents and traffic management, as they are identified in a more detailed design process.

The three options the committee will consider are to:

Develop a plan to:
remove the car park and Jervois Quay overbridge as they are connected;
work with the businesses and organisation located in the building on options for relocation;
guide the design of the whole Frank Kitts Park area.
This plan would be carried out in 2022 and reported back to Council for approval.

Strengthen the building to either ≥ 34% NBS or ≥ 67% NBS to provide a modest sized car park building. This would be dependent on funding being approved in the 2022-23 Annual Plan or the Long-term Plan.

Close the car park indefinitely until plans for a proposed Fale Male and the Chinese Garden are clearer, noting that the car park must be strengthened or demolished by 2034.

You can read the full Council paper in the meeting agenda on the Council’s website.

If the Council votes to demolish the car park building, will the public be consulted?

While a significant asset, the car park building is not a strategic asset so it does not meet the criteria which would require public consultation. Community views on the waterfront, including those related to structures and other assets, are well understood through the Waterfront Framework 2001, which was developed with the community. However, if the other options are adopted, including the proposed developments, this would include engagement with the public.

Why is the Council recommending the potential removal of a green space in the inner city?

The Council is developing a Green Network Plan for Wellington. This plan will identify areas lacking in green spaces against the predicted levels of growth for the city. It will then recommend an approach for increasing high-quality green spaces across the city.

Any loss of open space in the park, such as the footprint of a building, will be accounted for and compensated for elsewhere in the city. If the Fale Malae development was to proceed the building footprint of it will have to be accounted for and replaced.

Do the estimates include demolition costs?

The cost to remove the car park and Jervois Quay overbridge is estimated at $1.2 million (additional un-costed items include addressing ground contamination, consenting fees and backfilling and dewatering, re-established of the park and associated furniture and planting).

Is the Council concerned about the loss of revenue from not replacing the car park?

The Council’s primary concern is resolving the seismic issues with the building whether through strengthening or removal. This cost significantly outweighs the rental revenue which is $265,000 per annum for the car park and $125,000 per annum for the retail spaces.

If the car park is removed, will a new overbridge be created?

This has not been considered at this stage. This decision will for any replacement structure, would need to consider how people access the area, and Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport plans for the waterfront.

If the car park is removed what would happen to heritage features, such as plaques?

The Council will work closely with all the waterfront stakeholders such as the RSA and Polish Society, so these important cultural and historical stories continue to be highlighted in the area.

What is happening with plans for the Chinese Garden?

The 2018 consented design of the Chinese Garden relies on the car park building for support. On the premise the car park building is demolished, the design of the garden would need to be reconsidered. The Chinese Garden Society is working alongside the Fale Malae Trust to integrate their designs.

If the amendments to the design are relatively minor, section 127 of the Resource Management Act provides for the Trust to apply for a variation to the existing resource consent. This would not be likely to require further public notification.

Alana Bowman: Why we love Frank Kitts Park


  1. Lindsay, 17. September 2021, 9:42

    In today’s release, the WCC confirms that the plans for Frank Kitts Park would involve the loss of green open public space. It says unconvincingly that such a loss would be “compensated for elsewhere in the city.” That’s a joke. Unique and precious open waterfront space could not be re-created away from the harbour.

  2. Claire, 17. September 2021, 10:21

    If the councillors have any sense they will vote not to add any more buildings to the waterfront. It’s a jewel, but only if unimpeded.

  3. K, 17. September 2021, 10:58

    Plenty of scope to add some open green waterfront space on the interisland wharf (currently used as a car park).

  4. Groggy, 17. September 2021, 11:24

    So despite decades of evidence that this is not what the ratepayers want, our council will continue to put more buildings on the waterfront. They will consult, we will object and they will ignore the submissions and build it anyway. Wellington democracy in action.

  5. Marion Leader, 17. September 2021, 11:57

    The only reason given in the Environment Court for having a Chinese Garden in Frank Kitts Park was from by a Chinese witness whose grand-father had arrived in New Zealand at Queen’s Wharf in 1932.

  6. Alana, 17. September 2021, 11:59

    This is another demonstration of WCC’s failure to provide meaningful consultation with the public. Absurd to announce a meeting and decision next Thursday. This should be rejected by Councillors and sent back for further development and options and a time line for public consultation. But it appears to be a pre-determined outcome.

  7. Greenwelly, 17. September 2021, 12:29

    There are plenty of hard surface spots on the waterfront to use ahead of taking actual green grass away… (even if it is on a car park; the council own the car park which is used for the weekend market on the other side of Te Papa).

  8. Ms Green, 17. September 2021, 13:48

    The Council seems determined to destruct everything that’s good about our city. It’s already shown diagrams of its plan to demolish the City to Sea Bridge (sculptures, views, public spaces), now it plans to demolish the Jervois Quay bridge (attached to Frank Kitts Park and carpark). How will people get over Jervois Quay to the Civic Centre? With a begging button pedestrian crossing after years of consultation? Or wait for LGWM to come up with another bridge? Yeah right.

    Mayor and councillors: will your legacy be the destruction of green open public space, demolition of civic centre buildings, demolition of bridges with views gone, everything flattened.

  9. Wendy, 17. September 2021, 15:50

    This is untenable and shameful. I am so sick of the council putting the wishes of groups and developers ahead of the needs of the inner-city (Te Aro/Lambton) residents who now make up the largest suburb in Wellington (in terms of population on the smallest area of land), and it is also against the wishes of the general Wellington public.

    The council constantly acknowledges the inner-city neighbourhood is critically short of open useable green spaces for current residents, which to date has not been addressed. And they have also identified there is “an additional 1.5 ha – 1.7 ha of open space required for the proposed increase in population”. Yet, time and time again they allow the loss of useable existing open green spaces while trying to placate us with assurances that “Any loss of open space will be accounted for and compensated for elsewhere in the city”. This just does not happen!

    Wellington is rushing headlong into becoming a city with very little to commend it as a residential environment. As existing inner-city green spaces recede, wall to wall high-rise apartments are appearing without close community facilities or useable parks/green spaces to safeguard the mental and physical well-being of residents.

    Removing existing parks goes against the wishes of Wellingtonians and makes a mockery of WCC claims in their spatial plan that “Green spaces will be provided to support neighbourhood needs” and that residents will continue to enjoy a “world-class quality of life”.

  10. Lindsay, 17. September 2021, 16:22

    The City Council’s Waterfront Framework, which has been in place since 2001, is precise about Frank Kitts Park:

    A large green park;
    Centre for outdoor activities both on and off the water…
    Recognised as major green open space.
    Provides visual relief from the predominantly hard surfaces of the adjacent central central city.

    The Framework leaves no doubt – there is nothing that would allow for the addition of a building. There’s no way that the council can support a building on the park, as is recommended for next week. The council shouldn’t embarrass itself by making such a mistake, and councillors should be stepping up to tell the staff to follow the rules.
    Once the council has reminded itself of the specifics of Frank Kitts Park, it should turn its attention to Waitangi Park, where a large chunk has been left as asphalted carpark. This, also, is not allowed by the Framework, which says it is:

    Principally a large green urban park.

    And the Framework also says:

    …the Chaffers [now Waitangi Park] area is a good location for a Chinese garden … and the Leadership Group notes that the Chinese community has indicated to the east of Te Papa is its preferred location.

    Problem solved, by following the Framework.

  11. Marion Leader, 17. September 2021, 16:42

    The officers should be quoting the Waterfront Framework in their report to the Council.

  12. HR, 17. September 2021, 17:07

    What on earth is wrong with the Council and their staff? 16% satisfaction and dropping.

  13. Hel, 17. September 2021, 21:14

    Don’t see how a Falae building could ever be consented on Frank Kitts Park, as any building here would be contrary to the Waterfront Framework. Doesn’t surprise that Council would be considering something diametrically opposed to their own planning guidelines, they probably have forgotten there even is a framework. The Chinese Garden proposal was bad enough but the Falae is a folly and needs to be stopped and not encouraged.

  14. Hel, 17. September 2021, 22:03

    That Council report has all the hallmarks of a report written to deliver a pre-determined outcome. The references to the Waterfront Framework are disingenuous at best.

    The report notes there are 97 car parks and attributes a revenue of $245k – this is simply wrong or incompetent management, car parks in the inner city are leasing at $6k per annum each, the revenue should be $600k or more. Together with the lease revenue from the shops the total revenue should be $750k per annum, at that level a remedial cost of $10m to $18m does not look stupid. I’m no expert on earthquake ratings but a car park of 97 parks does not need to be an IL3 building and the costs will be overstated.

  15. Dave B, 18. September 2021, 2:52

    Ha! I have the answer. Relocate the Jervois Quay footbridge to Cobham drive to keep that lot happy. Then build the pedestrian crossing which would have been built on Cobham Drive on Jervois Quay instead. The traffic there is stationary during the peak anyway, so nothing will be held up. Then, if they are going to knock the council buildings down on Civic Square, build the Chinese Garden there, and repurpose the unneeded Convention Centre into a Fale Malae.
    Does this sound like a recipe for a dog’s breakfast? Well funny that, because so do all the other plans we are hearing about.

  16. Joolz, 18. September 2021, 9:38

    2022 can’t come fast enough. This time hopefully without the wealthy benefactors to influence the outcome!

  17. Polly, 18. September 2021, 10:52

    Frank Kitts Park is a true open space and is a popular lunch time destination for CBD workers, school parties visiting the Wellington Museum and on many days “keep fit” classes are available. What is referred to as The Lawn – the majority of Wellingtonians call it the “amphitheatre” – provides comfortable seating for the many free concerts and events throughout the year especially for the Festival of the Arts. And the upper levels provide vantage points for events on the harbour, dragon boat and yacht races and kayaks. The seats on the promenade side are well used by locals and visitors enjoying a coffee, ice cream or just resting and reading the historical placards and of course the Wahine Mast.

  18. D'Esterre, 19. September 2021, 17:48

    The Council must follow its own rules. Have not we the citizens made it clear? We expect Council to fix the pipes, fix the library, fix Civic Square, fix the Town Hall. The Council must leave Frank Kitts Park as it is. We’re adamantly opposed to any buildings at all there.

    Hel: “…a car park of 97 parks does not need to be an IL3 building…” The engineers in this household agree with you. Council must leave this carpark alone. It’s fit for purpose. It may be on liquefiable land, but it by no means follows that liquefaction will be an issue there.

  19. J Chris Horne, 20. September 2021, 21:26

    Successive city councils have deprived Wellingtonians of extensive open space areas on our waterfront – the lungs of the CBD and of Te Aro, our most populous suburb. We’ve had few wins – outstanding ones being the establishment of Waitangi Park and of Frank Kitts Park plus the refusal of planning consent to build an hotel on the Queen’s Wharf Outer “T”. The proposed building of a Garden of Beneficence and a Fale Malae on Frank Kitts Park would eliminate most of it as public open space open to all of us every hour of every day of every year. Those two proposed structures could instead be built on Cog Park on Evans Bay. It is served every day by the No. 24 Miramar Heights-Johnsonville bus service. The nearest bus services to Frank Kitts Park run along the Golden Mile, several blocks away.
    I suggest that WCC demolish the ‘quake-prone car-park, then replace it with an open space where Saturday markets can be held – always popular with locals and out-of-towners.