WCC Elections 2019: Lester’s Achilles heel; Shelly Bay? “Somebody stand for mayor and ask Justin Lester some awkward questions.”

In a Dominion Post opinion piece this morning Dave Armstrong looks at the Mayor’s record, bemoans the fact there are no other candidates, and suggests that Shelly Bay could be an Achilles heel.

Does Justin Lester have an Achilles heel? Yes, and it’s called Shelly Bay. Recently, Sir Peter Jackson sent the mayor a belligerent missive. He turned down Lester’s amicable request to meet over the development and made accusations – unproven – that the mayor’s office was spreading untrue rumours about Jackson’s motives for opposing the development.

However, since then, Sir Peter has produced – I suspect with the help of some expert hired hands – some well-researched and credible information about the Shelly Bay deal. He has asked some valid questions which have mostly remained unanswered by the council and the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST).

The most pertinent questions ask how and why the cash-strapped PNBST sold valuable iwi land to a private developer in small parcels and for a very low price, against the wishes of the greater iwi and possibly the rules of the trust.

For a council to be involved in a development where the transaction looks less than squeaky clean – and could lead to loss of valuable Māori land – is a risky business. It’s not a good look for the council to be appearing as the guys holding the muskets and blankets for the private buyer. It’s also a bad look for Lester when it is he who spearheaded the move for Wellington to become a te reo Māori capital by 2040.

Lester himself has welcomed having an opponent in October. A candidate who could shine some sunlight on the Shelly Bay deal may not win. However, they might do the city a big favour in the process.

Somebody stand for mayor and ask Justin Lester some awkward questions