Wellington mayoral candidate Tory Whanau says women are feeling at a loss with the overturning of Roe v Wade and it's more important than ever for them to lead.
Roe v Wade created a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The Supreme Court's overturning of the decision means states will now set their own abortion laws, many of which will make the procedure effectively impossible to obtain.
At an event in Wellington tonight Whanau announced her mayoral campaign policies.
But the former Green Party chief of staff first told the crowd how she woke up on Sunday morning feeling a deep sadness over Roe v Wade.
"Because we know exactly who is going to be impacted by this decision. The vulnerable. The poor. People of colour. Survivors. And while this is happening a huge distance away from us, we are not immune from these sorts of problems.
"We can never take progress for granted. Without the right political leadership, things can go backwards."
Whanau said now was the time for women to lead, for a wahine Māori to lead the capital.
Wellington's mayoral race heated up this week after Labour Rongotai MP Paul Eagle announced his bid on Monday. Incumbent Andy Foster is yet to confirm whether he's running again.
Whanau's flagship policy is to deliver a new major urban revitalisation project between Wellington's waterfront and the hospital, including Kent Tce and Cambridge Tce.
"New, warm, energy-efficient housing would be built around new parks, playgrounds, schools, and commercial spaces.
"When I look at the car-yards and under-utilised land in the heart of the city, it's clear there's a huge opportunity to build new, high-quality housing alongside green space."
She proposed to use the Urban Development Act to designate the area as a specified development project.
A governing body, consisting of leaders from the council, Government and mana whenua, would then have the power to plan, fund and finance, water, transport and housing within this area, she said.
Whanau said such a master plan would streamline processes and ensure roads weren't dug up twice.
The proposed development would take place along part of the Government's preferred light rail route to Island Bay, which was announced this week as part of the Let's Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) transport plan.
It's estimated light rail would enable about 20,000 more homes and Whanau said she wanted at least 30 per cent of them to be affordable and social housing.
Whanau said she would advocate for the public transport components of LGWM to be prioritised and for all fares to be free.
She also wanted to accelerate the rollout of bus priority lanes, the new city-wide cycling network, and install EV fast chargers around the city.
On housing in the central city, Whanau wanted to introduce development bonuses to incentivise environmental performance and universal design requirements for accessibility.
Bonuses could be additional building height allowance, as well as reduced consenting fees and time frames.
Whanau used the personal example of her sister to demonstrate the city's housing crisis.
She said her sister was happily living in Johnsonville when she was ready to buy her first home, but has had to settle in Levin.
"Because of decades of poor planning, my sister and her whānau just can't afford it.
Whanau also pledged to ensure council tenants would have warm, dry, affordable, homes.
She said she would pedestrianise Cuba St, plant one million new native trees and shrubs in the city over the next decade, and trial low-traffic neighbourhoods in suburban areas.
"We can welcome nature back into Wellington by turning our grey areas green, our grasses to gardens, and creating more space for our taonga species to thrive."
The mayoral hopeful also wanted to transform back alleys into vibrant laneways and install emergency call boxes in the central city to make people feel more safe.
These call boxes would connect with trained community safety ambassadors, similar to Māori Wardens, who could help deescalate situations before needing to go to police.
Whanau promised to be the change the city "desperately" needed.
"I have the experience and vision to lift our city. I want to be mayor not because it's easy, it's not, but because it's hard. But it's a challenge that I am more than ready for."