The slogan that embarrassed a councilor in Wellington

Alderman Sarah Free is seriously disappointed with the vision statement.  (File photo)


Alderman Sarah Free is seriously disappointed with the vision statement. (File photo)

Councilors oppose branding Wellington as a city with impact in debate about the “vision” for the next decade.

The statement – part of the first steps developing a long-term plan to go out for community consultations – seemed innocent enough.

“A city with impact: Wellington is a resilient capital, known for climate action, creativity, vibrant communities and incredible landscapes,” was the draft for discussion at the Wellington City Council committee meeting.

But the statement was hotly debated Thursday morning by councilors, some of whom were unhappy that the vision was going to the public.

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Opponents of the vision said it did not respond to community concerns about it broken infrastructure.

It was described as a “bald little statement” by councilor Sarah Free, who wanted more behind-the-scenes work among councilors before the vision was made public.

“I am seriously disappointed… The vision has to be about taking care of the basics, but also about these ambitious things and making sure our city thrives and succeeds.

“This vision is not enough and I am ashamed to make it known to the public.”

Tony Randle says the proposed vision won't cross the council table.  From left to right: Nicola Young, Tony Randle, Ray Chung.  (File photo)


Tony Randle says the proposed vision won’t cross the council table. From left to right: Nicola Young, Tony Randle, Ray Chung. (File photo)

Councilor Tony Randle said he had hoped for recognition of core services, resistance and the serious financial challenges facing the council as they headed for a budget deficit.

“This is not the [long-term plan] vision I hoped to see. It is not a vision that reaches across the table, it is not a vision of a united council.”

Nicola Young hated the word vision itself.

“Visions are for drug users and religious zealots,” she said. She also said the vision was needed to address the “massive problems” the council was facing.


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“Would the general public really understand what our city is facing in the next three years?” Diane Calvert wondered.

“It’s very policy, business-wise.”

Free presented her own revised vision for the city, entitled “a city fit for the future”, with statements about respecting Te Tiriti o Waitangi, thriving biodiversity and supporting business prosperity.

It was narrowly voted down, with Deputy Mayor Laurie Foon saying that Free’s proposed vision wasn’t “short and snappy” enough and pouiwi (representative) Liz Kelly said it was “so wordy”.

Councilor Ben McNulty pointed out that whatever the vision statement said, there were six “really good” priorities in the same document that led to action. “That’s the actual stuff that’s going to come down.”

Those priorities included work with companies and make infrastructure more resilient.

How they voted on the vision statement

For: Mayor Tory Whanau, Nureddin Abdurahman, Ray Chung, Deputy Mayor Laurie Foon, Rebecca Matthews, Ben McNulty, Teri O’Neill, Iona Pannett, Tamatha Paul, Holden Hohaia, Liz Kelly

Against: John Apanowicz, Tim Brown, Diane Calvert, Sarah Free, Tony Randle, Nicola Young

Absent: Nīkau Wi Neera (on leave in the Territorials until March 31)