WCC Election 2019; Shelly Bay; Peter Jackson to WCC “How can we trust you? Please tell us, because we want to trust you.”

A Council under siege today as Peter Jackson releases more information about the Shelly Bay goings-on in a post titled “The Shelly Bay murk gets even murkier.” Peter releases another email and calls for a “full investigation” into the land deals, which he describes Eastern Ward Councillors being “happy to condemn Eastern suburbs residents to decades of traffic congestion and an over burdened infrastructure and ugly development. Not to mention their complete disregard for the rights of iwi.”

Here is the summary of the latest missive, again, you should read the full post for context. Alternatively, if you’d read the post, then jump to the Analysis section below.

Peter outlines the timeline of events as he sees it:

  • During 2014 the Council declares their intent to designate Shelly Bay a Special Housing Area (SHA) despite, allegedly, not consulting the iwi, a possible breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • April 2015 the Council has their first vote on a SHA for Shelly Bay, which passes.
  • May 2015 Council writes to the Minister of Housing requesting the SHA.
  • All of this occurs without the landowners having agreed to sell their land.
  • September 2015 “The PNBST Board, the Wellington City Council and Ian Cassels fly to China and sign an agreement with the Fu Wah Capital Group and the Beijing Construction Engineering Group to develop Shelly Bay and the Wellington Airport Extension.”
  • October 2015 Colliers values the four blocks of iwi land at over $23m. This means that without an iwi vote to agree to the sale, it cannot occur.
  • The same month the Council vote to extend the SHA.
  • December 2015 the Housing Minister announces that Shelly Bay has been approved as a SHA.
  • February 2016 the iwi votes down the sale of their land.
  • The only way the land can now be sold is to drop the value of the land below $9, land which was previously valued at $23m.
  • After some back and forth Colliers revalued the land at $12,800,000, but it’s still above that $9m threshold.
  • October 2016 at the PNBST AGM large numbers of iwi are present at the meeting directing PNSBT to “immediately cease all negotiations with Ian Cassels and the Wellington Company” regarding the sale of Shelly Bay.
  • April 2017 the Council grants the developer consent to build at Shelly Bay.
  • July 2017 the PNBST sell land without information their members. It is alleged that the WCC was fully aware of these transactions.
  • July 2017 WCC embark on a round of public consultation. To make the development work, the WCC must be able to sell or lease their land to the developer.
  • September 2017 the WCC votes to lease and sell their land to the developer.
  • September 2018 “The PNBST AGM dissolves into chaos, as angry iwi members erupt over the PNBST Board’s admission that all three blocks of Shelly Bay land originally valued at over $23m, were apparently sold to Ian Cassels for a total of $2m.”
  • The allegation is that the land was deliberately devalued to get around the iwi vote, which was unequivocal in its instruction.
  • 18 April 2019 Council votes down a review of the Shelly Bay consenting process.
  • 24 April Justin Lester asserts, as down the PNBST Board, that it is iwi land and they can do with as they wish, which is not possible given the developer now owns it.

Once again, Peter Jackson asks a series of questions of the Council that are documented in this article by Wellington Scoop; “Peter Jackson describes Shelly Bay as an “outrageous modern-day land grab.”

Peter Jackson finishes with;

The four councillors who have voted with integrity:

David Lee
Andy Foster
Iona Pannett

Simon Woolf

As for the rest of you, who have consistently enabled this modern-day land grab:

Justin Lester
Nicola Young
Sarah Free

Malcom Sparrow
Peter Gilberd
Diane Calvert
Brian Dawson
Fleur Fitzsimons
Chris Calvi-Freeman
Simon Marsh
Jill Day

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Special mention should go to our three Eastern suburbs councillors:

Sarah Free
Simon Marsh
Chris Calvi-Freeman

Who are happy to condemn Eastern suburbs residents to decades of traffic congestion and an over burdened infrastructure and ugly development.

Not to mention their complete disregard for the rights of iwi.

The least they could do is chip in for a few muskets and blankets!


The Mayor’s response this morning took a subtle swipe back at Peter Jackson saying, “if Jackson’s post was supposed to undermine a new resource consent process, then it was “disappointing”. – Dominion Post

The Dominion Post in the same article noted that four Councillors had the tick of approval from Peter Jackson, those being; Iona Pannett, Andy Foster, David Lee, and Simon Woolf.

The Mayor then moved immediately to a press release on a long-brewing issue around the cost of insurance.

Analysis and Tactics

It’s yet another airstrike from Peter Jackson that contains napalm, once again putting trust at the very heart of the issue.

He writes; “How can we trust you? Please tell us, because we want to trust you.”

The overwhelming feedback across multiple media platforms since this war started has been one of loss of trust in the WCC. This time around, Peter Jackson effectively broke the WCC Mayor and Councillors into one of three categories.

Those that willingly voted on development.

Those that had integrity.

The three Eastern Ward Councillors.

For the Mayor, it’s another blow. It’s almost unwinnable at this stage. Particularly since Jackson has highlighted, what we all new, that he received donations from the developer in question during his last campaign. That, unfortunately, could render him completely silent.

A good tactic at this point would be to step back and nominate a replacement spokesperson on the issue, the most likely candidate would be Jill Day. It’s a tactic that Celia Wade-Brown used to good effect from time to time, and to be frank, given the perception of how this has played out, probably a wise strategy.

That also gives Jill Day a good profile as we head into the elections. It’s a very sharp two-edged sword, but it’s possible to make it work.

I would have said that making one of the four Councillors that Peter Jackson named as having integrity as the spokesperson on the issue, but I suspect that they are far too smart to do anything other than sit back and ride the wave on this one because it’s in their favour.

You could see a breakaway, Simon Woolf springs to mind, especially if the rumours are true that he is going to run for Mayor, but that would put him at odds with the leadership.

Andy Foster continues to take a very careful and cautious approach to his commenting, which is winning him praise.

Taking a giant slap are the three Eastern Ward Councillors who are not only deeply involved in the ongoing saga, they are also remaining silent. This is not wise. Not at all.

They need to form a position very quickly, even if it is contrary to the party line because they are going to continue to be dragged into this debate and it will continue to lose them trust and confidence by their residents.

Teri O’Neill, a new candidate for Eastern Ward, could be talking about it, but isn’t. You could surmise that is because she is a Labour candidate and maybe also being told to keep quiet. It’s an opportunity to step in and score some points, or step on a landmine, either is a possibility in such a volatile situation.

As for the balance of the Councillors they are probably best to keep quiet. There is nothing to be gained by bringing attention to their voting record at this point, and like Game of Thrones, they are better hiding in Crypt until the war is over.

What next?

I’ve seen emails that raise questions in other areas around the development of Shelly Bay. I’ve chosen not to publish those or the content for a variety of reasons of which the most important is that I can’t independently verify facts that have been asserted. Needless to say, when the ship is under pressure, the ship leaks.  

What is clear is that more questions are coming, and the Council needs a strategy, fast, that not only manages any future posts by arguably the most well-known Wellington but also seeks to restore some trust in the Council proper.

Trust, trust, trust. If I had a dollar for every time, I had seen that in commentary and feedback over the last month I’d be able to pay my rates bill for the quarter. Just. My rates bill is very expensive.