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March 2016

Welcome to the Wellington Civic Trust’s first newsletter of 2016. The first three months of 2016 have been very busy, and it’s been something of a test to keep the finger on the pulse. And there are changes afoot!  But first, what have we been up to?


We seem to have been on a conveyor belt of submissions. One can perhaps blame the Government for that, as December seems to be the time for releasing new legislation, and requiring submissions by somewhat inconvenient closing dates.  We made submissions on:

  • The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill;
  • The WCC Annual Plan – including our continuing submission that the Pukeahu precinct should be recognised in the District Plan;
  • The Greater Wellington Regional Council proposed Natural Resources Plan – a submission on the submissions!
  • The National Policy Statement on Urban Development.

Town Belt legislation

We received the latest iteration of the Town Belt Bill as reported back from the Select Committee (which was ably attended on the Trust’s behalf by Jonathan Suggate and Sylvia Allan).  Craig Palmer was also there, wearing two – or was it three? – different hats.  There appear to be two unsatisfactory issues still contained in the Bill.  The first is that while leased areas have been retained at a maximum of 8 hectares, a new clause has been added which allows licenced areas also to a maximum of 8 hectares.  We are trusting this is an oversight, and Craig has raised this issue with Grant Robertson, MP and sponsor of the Bill.  It may be that he introduces a Supplementary Order Paper to correct this over-generous and analogous provision. The second issue is that the provisions of the Public Works Act have been retained in order, it would appear, to specifically allow the widening of Ruahine Street using Town Belt land.  The Trust believes this is short-sighted and unnecessary, and that if NZTA could be blessed with a little vision, it would not be required.

Wellington’s Town Belt embracing the Parliamentary precinct

Miramar/Watts Peninsula

We have written to Maggie Barry, Minister of Culture and Heritage, a number of times trying to find out what is going on with future plans for this jewel on the eastern harbour, and offering to participate in any consultative or community processes – based on our strong interest in this area over a number of years.  We have received polite but blanking responses, so we are no further ahead on understanding what is proposed.  However, we strongly suspect there is indeed, something going on and can only hope that the public are not about to be presented with a fait accompli. If any of you have any knowledge of moves afoot, please let us know.

The waterfront

Some time ago the Trust asked that the late Peter Brooks be commemorated in some way when Site 8 at Kumutoto is developed into an area of open space. The Mayor is supportive of that idea.  We hope to be meeting with the Council Committee facilitating that development in the near future, to ensure that Peter’s huge contribution to the protection and sympathetic development of the waterfront is appropriately acknowledged.

Public Transport

We continue to be perplexed and frustrated by the GWRC’s approach to public transport in the City, particularly buses.  The Council appears to be hell-bent on replacing the present fleet of trolley buses with diesels, at the same time that the Minister of Transport is espousing the wider introduction of electric vehicles. Even the 20 double-decker buses which are apparently on order are 75% diesel-fuelled, with only 25% being ‘hybrids’ i.e. still with a diesel component.  If London and Beijing can introduce fully electric buses, and Norway has a high proportion of electric cars and buses, why does Wellington have to endure filthy diesels?  That the wind will blow the pollutants away is at best, a fond hope, and at worst, a myth.  Diesel pollution in Aro Valley, for example, will be nicely trapped for ingestion in the many shops and cafés lining the route.  

The AGM!

We remind you of the upcoming AGM which this year will be held on Thursday 28 April. Please mark that in your diaries.  You will receive formal notification in due course.  The venue is the ground floor of the newly refurbished and fabulous Public Trust building in Lambton Quay, and we have an interesting guest speaker who promises some provocation – well known columnist, Dave Armstrong.  There will also be a significant ‘changing of the guard’, with five long-term Trustees retiring, and some very able replacements registering their interests in becoming new Trustees.  We hope to see as many of our members there as possible. As always, light refreshments will be served.

Happy tourists

On a final note, it’s been a great summer and Wellington has looked at its splendid best.  I have had a number of first-time to Wellington visitors, both overseas and domestic, and they have – without fail – sung the City’s praises. They love the walk-ability, the waterfront, the museums, the geographical setting and architecture. The only tiny grumble is that the sign-posting of city streets is not good. Can’t say I’ve noticed, but I guess when you’re a lucky local, it doesn’t matter so much.

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Thanks to Bruce Stokell and Brad Williams for the photographs.

Toni Izzard

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