Transport a key issue for Wellington

By Melissa Nightingale

Wellington’s mayor lists patience, persistence and public transport.
Wellington needs a new mayor with Celia Wade-Brown stepping down from the role.
Wellington needs a new mayor with Celia Wade-Brown stepping down from the role.

Wellingtonians need a mayor who can listen, fairly balance issues, and have a bit of a laugh.

Current mayor Celia Wade-Brown, who is not seeking re-election, said a sense of humour would come in handy for Wellington's next mayor.
They would also need a "willingness to listen to evidence as well as individuals", along with patience, persistence, compassion, and a long term view to help combat the city's main issues.

These issues included improving the public transport to avoid "bus jams", finishing big projects such as the airport extension and the movie museum, and focusing on the city's resilience in long term planning, she said.

"If people don't talk about resilience in long term planning to the city, then I don't think they've really got the depth."

New Zealand Anti-Poverty Hub co-ordinator Paul Stevenson said the main issues Wellington faces include transport, homelessness, providing a living wage to workers, and roading.

"Roading is another big issue that needs to be addressed. Like all the councils throughout New Zealand, a lot of them have left it way too late to do anything."

He wanted a "proactive" mayor who would respond to messages, and somebody who would be transparent and not make "back door deals" or "just make decisions willy nilly without really consulting the public".

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown, announcing her decision not to stand in the 2016 local-body elections. Photo  / Mark Mitchell
Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown, announcing her decision not to stand in the 2016 local-body elections. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Wellington City Mission chief executive Michelle Branney felt housing and homelessness were big issues for the city.

Branney said the council's Te Mahana programme, a strategy to end homelessness in Wellington, should continue to be pushed, and council housing should be kept up.

"City council housing is appreciated and it's adequate but we would like to assure some affordability."

Rent and living cost increases in the city were not matched by benefit and supplement increases.

The new mayor needed "that ability to listen and balance all different parts of the community".

Cycle Aware Wellington secretary Alastair Smith said congestion was a big issue, and a push to have more people cycling would help.

It took more than just having a mayor who was a cycling enthusiast - the whole council needed to be on board, he said.

"I think the mayor needs to provide leadership and negotiating skills with communities that face change with the cycle lanes put through their area."

Wade-Brown said the congestion was not so bad compared to places like Auckland or Asian countries, and the focus should be more on improving public transport.

Current mayor: Celia Wade-Brown

Number of enrolled voters: 142,787

Voter turnout last election: 40.85 per cent

- NZ Herald

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