Wellington Scoop

Councillors vote to support fale malae on waterfront park

Wellington City Councillors last night voted to support the construction of a fale maele on Frank Kitts Park land which is designated in the Waterfront Framework as public open space.

There is no design yet for the proposed building, but councillors were told it would be smaller than the previous proposal which failed to go ahead on Bunny Street.

A council officer told last night’s meeting that the Fale Maele Trust expected the building on Frank Kitts Park would include significant open space. “The footprint will be as small as they can manage. They’re very aware of the need for public open space. The more green space and open space, the more chance they’ll have of getting it through the waterfront approval process.”

Among the speakers at the zoomed meeting, deputy mayor Sarah Free said: “I love Frank Kitts Park but it can change.”

Cr Tamatha Paul said the fale was significant and important for Wellington – the council needed to give the Trust an assurance that it could continue to pursue the project.

Cr Laurie Foon said: “I am in absolute support for the Trust to continue on its journey to bring this building to Wellington.”

Mayor Andy Foster said the fale maele proposal was “a magical concept, with the potential to be a great meeting place.” He said “we should be in boots and all,” but accepted that the proposal was “challenging because of the location.”

Cr Teri O’Neill said the city had no meeting space for the Pasifika community. “We need a centre like this because we’ve seen a lot of anti-social activities.”

Cr Fleur Fitzsimons said she was “excited and pleased to support a wonderful opportunity for Wellington.” The fale “would be loved by Wellingtonians and would change the city for the better.” But there was no guarantee that it would go ahead.

Cr Rebecca Matthews said Frank Kitts Park was “not that well used” and was not a beautiful place. She said she was “taken aback by people who say you can never change anything. We can make public spaces better.” Opposition to building on the park was, she said, “almost a how dare you kind of thing.”

Cr Sean Rush said he supported the vision of the fale but was concerned about the location. He didn’t agree with Cr Matthews and said the park was used by hundreds of people. “I’m a regular down there with my kids.” He was aware that the park is listed in the Waterfront Framework as green open space.

Cr Iona Pannett said that as an ex member of Waterfront Watch she had never supported buildings on the waterfront … “but I think we need to give this a go.” She said the council was being asked only to support further investigation. She was passionate about open space and “we will provide extra space – somewhere else … a large space.”

The resolution passed by councillors says that “compensatory open space will be created elsewhere in the city designed with water sensitive urban design principles.”

Cr Nicola Young, who was one of four councillors who voted against the proposal (the others were councillors Calvert, Sparrow and Rush), said that Wellingtonians had fought for open space on the waterfront, which was the city’s most precious public area. She said she had been consistent in opposing buildings on Frank Kitts Park. “We’ll be buying into a battle if this goes ahead. The fale is a great idea, but not the location.”

Cr Simon Woolf, who voted for the proposal, said there would be “truckloads of hurdles if this goes ahead.” He said that open waterfront space further north could be of equal value.


  1. D'Esterre, 24. September 2021, 1:01

    Evidently, the views of the citizens, expressed so forcefully and over so many years, count for nothing. Roll on the next elections: we won’t forget this betrayal.

  2. Pauline Swann, 24. September 2021, 7:38

    Thank you Nicola, Sean, Diane and Malcolm for listening to Wellingtonians and as for Rebecca has she not seen the many photos of crowds on Frank Kitts Park, not to mention the children in the play area which should not be moved closer to the street.

  3. Wendy, 24. September 2021, 9:18

    What a travesty. Removing Frank Kitts Park is incredibly irresponsible, especially when WCC has repeatedly acknowledged the critical shortage of green spaces for the huge number of inner-city residents.

    Cr Iona Pannett said she was passionate about open space and “we will provide extra space – somewhere else … a large space.” So is the council going to spend millions on finding and purchasing land in the middle of the inner-city to create a large park the same size as the one they are currently destroying (20,000 sqm). Given the WCC’s woeful financial issues, and lack of commitment to open green spaces, it seems very unlikely this will happen any time soon, if ever.

    So, as the wishes of the wider Wellington public are completely ignored yet again, and as open green spaces are constantly being eroded by WCC decision making, hopes for thriving sustainable inner-city living environments are fading.

  4. Richie Bestingface, 24. September 2021, 10:36

    Re: green spaces on the waterfront. Consider this. There is a huge undeveloped section of port land opposite the railway station where the BNZ building amongst others have been demolished. A new ferry terminal at Kaiwharawhara will also free up the Bluebridge terminal area that adjoins this. Can we imagine some possibilities for this area, it’s clearly unsuitable for building on but has excellent links to the station, stadium concourse and a continuation of waterfront. A second Waitangi style park to bookend the Wellington waterfront?

  5. Groggy, 24. September 2021, 10:45

    “Cr Rebecca Matthews said Frank Kitts Park was not well used.” WOW, so completely out of touch with what is happening just across the road from council buildings. It’s packed on any sunny day. Without including the large events that were regularly run from there. What a specious and unsubstantiated argument to stick a building on a public park.

  6. Mickey Mouse, 24. September 2021, 10:45

    Never fear Wendy. Councillor Pannett has the solution. She said in the Council debate: “We will provide compensatory space elsewhere. A lot more… we’ll be brave and inventive … We’ll buy a building”.
    So there you have it. I wonder which vacant or tenanted building, demolished, will provide 20,000 square metres of open green space (on the waterfront?) or anywhere for that matter. Start saving for another big rates bill.

  7. Claire, 24. September 2021, 10:58

    Has Rebecca been to that park or does she make things up as she goes?

  8. J Chris Horne, 24. September 2021, 13:10

    City councillors who support the theft of Wellingtonians’ precious waterfront public open space for the construction of a Garden of Beneficence and a falae malae appear to have no appreciation of the public’s enjoyment of Frank Kitts Park, and our right to enjoy it every hour of every day.

    How can those councillors be so out of touch with our love of our waterfront’s open spaces? Shame on them!

  9. Greenwelly, 24. September 2021, 14:43

    “open space will be created elsewhere in the city designed with water sensitive urban design principles.””
    Open space = Green space?

  10. Codger, 24. September 2021, 14:54

    I feel very sorry for the councillor who did not think Frank Kitts was well used. It does not say in the officers’ reports that it is very popular and that many crowded events are hosted there. How can a councillor be expected to know such things?

  11. Terrestrial invertebrate, 24. September 2021, 15:04

    Water sensitive urban design principles… storm water drains?

  12. Greenwelly, 24. September 2021, 15:15

    Usually it’s code for gravel beds and tussock.

  13. Densen, 24. September 2021, 18:14

    There is no need to build anything at all at this site. A precedent will be set otherwise with buildings marching along the foreshore.

  14. Wellington Inc, 24. September 2021, 18:30

    Where will this development sit in the queue against all the other demands for ratepayer capital? New pipes, strengthening the Town Hall, the Central Library, the St James and council buildings; the convention centre; cycle lanes, light rail, water reservoirs, suburban potholes?

  15. Meredith, 24. September 2021, 18:46

    Well fancy asking that question. Councillors clearly didn’t care as they were told by officers –
    “we have not done the financial analysis.”
    A queue? No just add on and add on and add on.
    You are quite right to ask this question – councillors did not. And the long term plan didn’t mention it!

  16. Geoff, 24. September 2021, 19:03

    Councillors are clearly out of touch. Vote them out!

  17. Toni, 24. September 2021, 22:45

    Even if we manage to vote the whole lot out, the damage is already done. The legacy this council is leaving doesn’t bear thinking about as they ride roughshod over Wellingtonians believing they know best, which sadly they do not. Most of them live out in the suburbs and have no idea how vital any large open green space is to inner-city residents. I seriously doubt there was any form of discussion or consideration around the loss of vital green spaces, and the impact on the well-being of inner-city residents, when debating the Fale.

    Time and time again the fundamental needs of the huge inner-city neighbourhood population are not identified or recognised for discussion by council when proposing major decisions. This is something that needs to change rapidly or council risks compromising the social and mental well-being of residents.

  18. Henry Filth, 25. September 2021, 7:15

    If Frank Kitts Park has to be concreted over or asphalted to oblivion, could it at least be for something useful like an IKEA?

  19. Mickey Mouse, 25. September 2021, 9:37

    What about The Warehouse? Ideal site. Good view from the entrance. Close to the Moana. Good for international tourism and cruise ships.
    There will be a patch of grass in the front for a sausage sizzle pocket park sit down. Heaps of public space inside i.e. private space for ‘the public.’ At least we would know the colour of the building.

  20. Sarah, 25. September 2021, 11:52

    In case you hadn’t noticed Cr O’Neill, the city has no meeting space for the community full stop, Pasifika or otherwise. Oh no that’s right we’re getting an old converted bottle store as a “community hub”. What a lucky inner city community we are!

  21. Claire, 25. September 2021, 12:13

    This is a council with only a 16% satisfaction rating. With this low satisfaction rate, you can bet there are many many people who do not support recent decisions such as Frank Kitts Park.

  22. D'Esterre, 25. September 2021, 12:19

    I was astonished at Cr Matthews’ claim that Frank Kitts Park isn’t well used. How on earth could anyone who lives in this city hold that view? She’s supposed to be a representative of the ratepayers in her ward. It’s past time that she did just that.

  23. Ray Chung, 25. September 2021, 12:51

    Rebecca Matthews lives in Ngaio so perhaps she’s never been to FKP? Claire, perhaps the councillors consider 16% is a pretty good satisfaction rating and will only be concerned when it gets into single digits?

  24. Toni, 25. September 2021, 13:09

    When only one (Nicola Young) out of the three Lambton Ward councillors listen to and supported their constituents, little wonder the huge number of inner-city residents are not getting their valid concerns regarding the loss of green spaces recognised, respected and considered.

  25. Helene Ritchie, 25. September 2021, 14:48

    Not one councillor asked or knew what this building would be used for. I am puzzled. Is this building going to be for commercial use, conventions, education, a museum, or what? Or will it be it just be a large or small sculpture to look at? How will its strengthened foundations, its construction, its ongoing operations be funded ? By whom? Too many questions? Can ratepayers see the business case going to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage in 5 days’ time, asking for $10 million. Not one councillor asked to see that either. It might answer some of these questions for us and for councillors if they are interested.

  26. Gerondis, 25. September 2021, 17:22

    Shame on the councillors who voted for this. You are creating inequalities as many people cannot afford to buy in the leafy suburbs where you live and instead opt for the still reasonably affordable apartments in the inner city. Is our health & wellbeing not as important as yours? Taking away green spaces (and none of us believe that you will find other central city areas to green up) you are increasing the morbidity and mortality of Wellington’s urban residents. You are elected to represent all of us, so act in our interests too!

  27. Richie Bestingface, 25. September 2021, 18:12

    Helene – they didn’t need to ask as it was for their virtue signalling only

  28. Jackson, 25. September 2021, 18:31

    Does anyone want to bet who the ‘preferred developer’ will be for this?

  29. Ray Chung, 25. September 2021, 19:56

    Hi Helene, excellent questions! I mistakenly assumed that the councillors would have been presented with all this information in order for them to approve it. I have no idea what a Fale Malae is but I assumed that everyone else did as no-one asked. However, I asked Dr. Google and was told it has a grassed or sand floor. Perhaps Teri O’Neill and the other councillors who are so effusive about this might share with us what they know. Teri said the applicants need a place to meet? Perhaps this will be another conference centre?

  30. Penelope, 25. September 2021, 20:15

    ” Virtue signaling is the act of speaking or behaving in a way that’s meant to demonstrate one’s good moral values. For example, if a person widely proclaims on social media that they strongly support a certain cause, just because they want to show others how caring they are, that person is virtue signaling. The whole point of virtue signalling is that it’s disingenuous and cheap. A better term would be ‘showing off.'” – Google search.

  31. Hel, 25. September 2021, 21:31

    This is just bad thinking and a terrible outcome for the waterfront. Build the Fale on that useless bit of land by Nikau or down by the railway, but not Frank Kitts Park – this is precious and irreplaceable open space. Officers complicit providing shallow and incomplete advice that is anything but unbiased, free or frank. Sadly comments from the likes of Councillor Matthews just betray how little they know about the city. I had to laugh at the statement that is now gospel, ‘the Fale needs to be by the moana’, their original preferred site was well away from the moana. Justification for Frank Kitts is being created on the fly.

  32. Toni, 25. September 2021, 22:18

    Crs. Young, Calvert, Sparrow, and Rush: thank you very much for recognising and respecting that “Wellingtonians had fought for open space on the waterfront, which was the city’s most precious public area”.

    Cr. O’Neill: Pasifika may well need a place to meet but, at the same time, the huge inner-city community need a place to meet and they need a lot more open green space. How can councillors justify destroying precious large open inner-city green space when there are other options for a Fale site? Cr. Paul: you said the “Fale was significant and important for Wellington” but as you represent the Lambton Ward you must be fully aware that large open green spaces are “significant and critically important” for the huge inner-city community and should be safeguarded.

    Cr. Matthews, unless you can prove that the park is “not that well used”, which many of us seriously doubt, your claims are not a trustworthy reason to destroy the park. Cr Fitzsimons, your claim the Fale “would be loved by Wellingtonians and would change the city for the better”, is clearly questionable, given the backlash already starting.

    Cr. Pannett, it is all very well to claim “we will provide extra space – somewhere else … a large space” when there is no plan to ensure this will happen, and it is doubtful the council would be able to find a compensatory 20,000sm in the city to fulfil this promise.

    Crs. Woolf, Rush, and Mayor Foster, why did you vote for this proposal when you were clearly concerned about the location and, as stated by Cr Woolf, there will be “truckloads of hurdles if this goes ahead”, most of which will be fierce opposition by the Wellington public? Did that not make you seriously consider it would be best interest of Wellington and the council, to vote no and avoid yet another contentious project?

    Finally, as the inner-city is the now the biggest suburb in Wellington in terms of population, on the smallest area of land, and is going to increase in size dramatically, when is the council going to recognise that this community must be acknowledged, respected, and treated as a major stakeholder whose environment must be protected?

  33. Nemo, 26. September 2021, 13:41

    Frank Kitts Park is going to be a busy place, or so it seems. For some reason the Council seems to have it in for Frank Kitts, given that at one end there is a children’s playground which has just been butchered, and at the other end there is an underground carpark building which has just been condemned. Somewhere in the middle there is a proposed Chinese Garden, which has been spoken about for so long now that I’ve lost track of exactly where it is proposed for, and what its time line is … It could be quite possible that what is now Open Space at Frank Kitts (actually double Public space, as it is two-levelled – you can have events going on upstairs in the park and downstairs in the carpark / Underground markets at the same time) is now going to have Zero Open Space, with even a potential double booking of both Chinese Garden and Samoan Fale at the same time – and in the same physical space too? Is WCC setting up the waterfront as a venue for combat?

  34. Marion Leader, 26. September 2021, 13:58

    Now that it’s going to be “much smaller,” perhaps the Bunny Street site could be considered again?

  35. D'Esterre, 26. September 2021, 16:49

    In addition to the citizens wanting FKP to be retained as green open space, putting a building there is potentially catastrophic from an environmental point of view: predicted sea level rise and so on. Yet I note the effusiveness of the Green councillors, speaking in support of this proposal. What happened to their Green principles?

    The Council cannot on the one hand talk about managed retreat from coastlines and on the other propose further building on the waterfront. They cannot have it both ways.

  36. Terrestrial Invertebrate, 26. September 2021, 19:07

    Handy to have climate crises and so on as an excuse for certain agendas but when the time comes for other projects it suddenly disappears.

  37. Ray Chung, 26. September 2021, 21:32

    Is it possible to build this on the beach next to the Freyberg Pool? I spoke with a Samoan friend who said Fales are commonly used for gatherings and festivals, so it should be located close to where their community lived, and none of them live by FKP!

  38. Claire, 26. September 2021, 22:38

    Ray: Newtown would work. There is the Pacific Islands Church and members living there and nearby.

  39. D'Esterre, 27. September 2021, 0:02

    Terrestrial Invertebrate: it looks to me like situational ethics. Or moral relativism, perhaps?

    Ray, the climate activists (and the Greens) are saying that nobody should be building anything on the coast. I doubt that a fale malae would be an exception.

  40. nemo, 27. September 2021, 0:50

    Ray – is it a good idea to build anything on a beach? Didn’t the Bible say “Build not your house on sand!”…..? And I’m pretty sure that Samoans are not the majority demographic in Oriental Bay either….

  41. Hel, 28. September 2021, 10:36

    Not sure how Homegrown will work with a fale in the middle. Will be a shame to lose events like this in the inner city, having already lost the fantastic market from the car park. Staggered by the seeming lack of any understanding of what actually goes on around Frank Kitts that won’t be replaced by a bulldozer and fale and lost forever.

  42. Mickey Mouse, 28. September 2021, 11:52

    I think the council has no idea what it is doing or why except:
    Demolish as much as is possible; get rid of as much public green space as possible and replace it with pocket parks and then ‘sell’ these to developers (cf. Willis Bond Victoria Street land development – cnr Dixon and Victoria); consult the public to death; give away ratepayers’ assets; use ratepayers’ funds to fight ratepayers and fund court cases.

  43. Ray Chung, 29. September 2021, 13:08

    I was talking to a Filipino friend in Broadmeadows and he read this about the Fale and he asked what the procedure is to get a meeting house for the thousands of Filipinos in Wellington, as they currently meet in a park. This makes me wonder whether it’s possible to have a meeting place for all groups to share instead of separate ones. I asked whether it’s necessary to have it where most of them live but he said they live all over Wellington so anyplace is OK and they’re happy to travel there. Would it be feasible to have meeting places in the new Conference Centre?

  44. Dave B, 29. September 2021, 14:17

    Great idea Ray C. I love it. Put that unnecessary convention-centre building to some good use!

  45. Ray Chung, 29. September 2021, 15:47

    I asked my Samoan friend exactly just what a Fale Malae was and he said it was really just a meeting place where friends and family can gather and in NZ, they can set up a marquee on a grassy or sandy area and that’s it! He said they go to Newtown Park a lot because it’s handy for many of them as Claire has suggested and that’s all good. He thought it was odd that the councillors had no idea what it was but approved it nevertheless. I asked him if the Conference Centre would work as well and he asked if they could cook there and I suspect not indoors, but perhaps something could be arranged outside?


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