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A forum presented by the Rotary Club of Wellington and Victoria University of Wellington in association with the Dominion Post in Wellington on Thursday 25 October 2012.

The Forum speakers and participants commented on and discussed the two questions "Wellington - what do we want?" and "How do we get there?.


This report covers:

Part 1  Wellington – what do we want? – key themes emerging from discussion

Part 2:   How do we get there? – a summary of the views expressed

Appendix:  Summary of proceedings


Part 1: – Wellington - what do we want?

Two strong themes ran through the day:

  • It is time to be proactive on growing jobs, to retain and grow our communities
  • It is time to make decisions on regional governance, so the debate does not continue to cloud the important issues.

Forum participants were consistent in their view of what makes Wellington special:

  • We are already connected with each other to a degree unusual in major cities.
  • It is easy to live in Wellington, the city is compact and accessible; it is a combination of a cosmopolitan capital city and a collection of villages; and no parts of the region are too distant by global standards.
  • The Wellington lifestyle and culture are attractive to the people on whom the creative and knowledge based jobs that are the future of Wellington.

A clear and consistent view also emerged from the speakers and the participants in the Forum, about what we want for Wellington (the details of each follow):

  • Vision
  • Participation
  • Leadership
  • Liveability and vibrancy
  • Inclusion
  • Connection
  • Efficiency
  • people want a stronger sense of "Wellington"
  • a place where people want to be, stay, live and work - where our children and grandchildren will want to stay
  • a place which is focussed on people, families and neighbourhoods
  • better and more employment opportunities - businesses stay or come to Wellington rather than moving to Auckland or overseas
  • economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being all matter.
Participation and leadership
  • local democracy - people want more democracy and more opportunities to participate; for their voice to be listened to; and to be engaged in the issues that matter at a local level
  • regional leadership - yet there was a clear call for stronger regional leadership on issues that matter at a region-wide level , and a voice for Wellington at a regional level
  • people want a new kind of voice in the governance of Wellington locally and regionally (not just by voting in elections)
  • it's not about emulating Auckland , but developing a unique sense of the wider metropolitan "Wellington", what we are, and our place in the world.
High quality employment
  • local educational institutes produce employment ready graduates with the skills and attitude required by the creative industries and for large knowledge-based service organisations
  • businesses stay or come to Wellington rather than moving to Auckland or overseas
  • "embrace the weirdness" - innovation and creativity
  • effective promotion of business investment in Wellington.

Liveability and vibrancy

  • Wellington is a compact city and region, easy to move about, and easy to live and work in
  • Wellington is a cosmopolitan capital city and also a collection of villages, and that contract is part of what makes it liveable
  • the natural environment, events and vibrant culture are a key part of what makes Wellington liveable
  • liveability is a significant factor in attracting and retaining the talent and intellectual capital for our creative and knowledge industries that provide the jobs of the future
  • we need to build resilience and adaptability – to physical shocks, to changes in government priorities, and to growth
  • people want a city that's about people and families and neighbourhoods
  • people want increased connection within their neighbourhoods, city and region
  • the changing roles of iwi and Maori within Wellington following the Treaty settlements are recognised and integrated
  • being a Wellingtonian includes connection with and care for the vulnerable and dispossessed
  • we are inclusive of cultural diversity at all levels.
  • we need better connections between Wellington and central government – central government is a significant presence in Wellington, both as the biggest employer and as a key client for Wellington businesses
  • we need better connections between the Wellington educational institutions and businesses to deliver the talent required for businesses to stay or establish in Wellington
  • international connections are important for attracting talent, for business and diplomatic relations, for international students and for the lifestyle that Wellingtonians want.
  • there is a clear expectation of efficiency gains from collaboration or shared services as at regional level
  • there is a clear expectation of a more consistent environment for business within the wider metropolitan area
  • there is a tension between this and the expectation of greater participation and diversity at local level
  • we need to be clear about which functions are more effective and efficient at regional level, and which closer to local communities.

Part 2 - We know the Wellington we want - how do we get there?

Knowing what we want is not enough; we need action to achieve that.

The key actions discussed were:

  • develop a stronger sense of what "Wellington" is and can be
  • work collaboratively within whatever local government structure emerges
  • achieve engaged citizenry and engaged youth
  • build connections, neighbourhoods and communities
  • improve the effectiveness of town, gown, business and communities working together.
Develop a stronger sense of what "Wellington" is and can be
  • acknowledge "Wellington" as not the city but the wider metropolitan area
  • learn from Auckland, its successes and mistakes, then recognise that Wellington is different and may need different solutions
  • acknowledge the aspirations of Wellingtonians:
    • "a place where talent wants to live"
    • "embracing the weirdness"
    • "it's a place that people want to be"
    • "it not just about mega-bucks"
    • "it meets the needs of people and their families"
    • "inclusive of the vulnerable and dispossessed"
    • "remorselessly democratic"
    • "regular, ongoing and reasonable scale creative projects"
    • "government as the key anchor tenant for the city"
    • are there more, to come from wider conversations?
Work collaboratively within whatever local government structure emerges
  • there will be a process to decide this and it may take time
  • whatever the structure – just work together within it
  • focus on the issues and make it work in practice
  • leadership at all levels in local government, businesses, communities, institutions, organisations and neighbourhoods to make change happen
  • there is an imperative around election timing if there is to be any change to local government structures, so let's get on with it!
Build connections, neighbourhoods and communities
  • ensure that services are aimed at people, and that efficiencies support people, rather than taking away access to information of services or opportunities for participation
  • acknowledge the tension between participation and regional service delivery, but move to deliver "regional" services regionally and access the efficiencies that should bring
  • create opportunities to meet people within the neighbourhood, to take time away from being "busy"
  • build a case for more direct international flights into Wellington.
Improve the effectiveness of town, gown, business and communities working together
  • business, city and academic leaders working together to identify strategy and resources within Wellington, to identify the actions that would make the most difference
  • turn conversations into actions to build and grow Wellington
  • don't let the conversations rest – act with a sense of urgency!
Call to action for Rotary
  • Continue to use our influence for the good of Wellington
  • Continue to create opportunities for conversation and connections
  • Help to make connections:
    • between local government and businesses
    • between businesses and universities
    • between and within communities – local communities, community organisations to which members belong, grant making bodies, skilled migrants and refugees
    • with central government
Call to action for local government
  • Don't get too focussed on structure – it is but one solution
  • Whatever the structure, put it into practice effectively and collaboratively
  • Actively work with business and tertiary institutions to grow talent and jobs, so people want to come and to stay
  • Continue to promote business investment in Wellington
  • Find the efficiencies in regional service delivery, so there are more funds available for other services
  • Make sure that engagements with communities and citizens, especially youth, are effective
Call to action for individuals and community organisations
  • decide to be an active Wellingtonian
  • set aside time to meet your neighbours and build connections within your neighbourhood
  • take opportunities to participate in local decision-making


Read on for the Appendix - Summary of proceedings





25 OCTOBER 2012


Host for the Day: Hewitt Humphrey

Radio New Zealand Broadcaster and President of the Rotary Club of Wellington (2012). 

8.30 - 9.00 Registration

9:00 – 10:00 Welcome


Hewitt Humphrey, President, Rotary Club of Wellington  


Keynote: Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister and Chair of the Wellington Region Local Government Review Panel.


"Wellington what do we want? - What the independent Review Panel learned during its engagement process."


Youth perspectives – introduced by Professor James Liu, Academic Director for the Forum and Professor of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington  

Brittany Trilford, Queen Margaret College, International Youth Speaker at the Rio+20 Earth Summit  

Ben Guerin, Scots College, finalist in the Rotary Club of Wellington Eureka awards for young science orators 2012  

William Guzzo, Victoria University of Wellington, finalist in the Rotary Club of Wellington Eureka awards for young science orators 2012

Rangimarie Teautama, Wellington East Girls' College, Winner of the Koromiko trophy for the senior English section at the Nga Manu Korero speaking competitions

10:00 – 10:10 Short break

10:10 - 11:10

Session #1: Community Leadership and Local Governance Frameworks – What Do We Know?


Peter McKinlay, Director, Local Government Centre, AUT 

Matiu Rei, Executive Director, Te Runanga O Toa Rangatira  

Prof Peter Hughes, Head, School of Government, Victoria University  

Panel and discussion

(chaired by Hewitt Humphrey ) 

11:10 – 11:30 Morning Tea

11:30 – 12:30  

Session #2: Who Makes the Decisions About the Kind of Community We Get?


Rod Oram, media commentator and Sunday Star Times columnist

Hon David Caygill, former Minister, Deputy Chair, Environment Canterbury 

Mary-Jane Rivers, founder and Trustee of Inspiring  Communities   

Panel and discussion

(chaired by Hewitt Humphrey )

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 2:40  

Session #3: Options for Wellington:  What Do We Want?


Sam Knowles, Company Director, former CEO of Kiwibank 

Dave Gibson, Producer and Chair, Gibson Group 

Susan Blaikie, former Wellington City Missioner 

Wayne Alexander, Environmental Activist 

Panel and discussion

(chaired by Hewitt Humphrey)

2:40 – 3:00 Afternoon Tea

3:00 – 4:10  

Session #4: Reflections and Perspectives From Local Government Leaders

The Mayors and the Chair of Greater Wellington have been invited to build on the other sessions and address three questions:

What kind of Wellington are you trying to create?

Where do you stand on who should make the decisions and how?

What are you going to do about it?


Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington 

Nick Leggett , Mayor of Porirua 

Wayne Guppy, Mayor of Upper Hutt 

Hon Fran Wilde, Chair, Greater Wellington Regional Council 

Panel and discussion (chaired by Pat Walsh ) 

4:10 – 4:15 Short break
4:15 – 4:45

Forum Summary and Lessons for Wellington

Grant Robertson, MP for Wellington Central 
4:45 – 5:00

Forum Closure and Call to Action

Hewitt Humphrey, President , Rotary Club of Wellington 


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