WCC Northern Ward Candidates Analysed; City Scientist could be out, grey men win & lose, the invisible Deputy, and the rise of the neo-left

Eight candidates are vying for three seats in the Northern Ward with some standouts, some that should stay out, and I would suggest one stressed City Scientist who could be about to be replaced on Council by a newbie.

Issues up north in the frequent mist include transport, what the hell to do with one of the worst malls ever, and how to bring some economic life back to the Ward.

John Apanowicz

John came last in a smaller field back in 2016. Chances are not that much greater this time around, though there will be a small lift potentially because of name recognition. He’s also running under the Wellington Party this time around, whatever that means. That might pop a few more votes as the Ward is traditionally hellishly conservative; count the number of churches in Tawa.

Our community needs a local champion with a strong voice. Someone that sits in the same grid-locked traffic as you and your family, that catches the same buses – when they turn up, that isn’t afraid to fight hard for the services and funding our local community deserves. I’ll fight hard for you. 


Personally; Weirdly, John didn’t do that well in his last outing because he screams Northern Ward, and let’s be fair, a couple of incumbents must be pushing retirement.

Face Factor; it’ll do, nothing wrong with that photo at all.

Weaknesses; He’s relatively unknown in a big field with a strong newcomer getting a good deal of media coverage. He might be just a little bit too conservative. Hitching his wagon to the Wellington Party may pay some dividends; it’s too early to say. There are a lot of grey men up there, and John needs to differentiate himself from them.

Verdict; he’ll double the number of votes this time around compared to 2016. He won’t be bottom of the pack this time, but he won’t be in the top three either.

Jenny Condie

Jenny is probably just what Northern Suburbs needs. A break from the grey man syndrome, liberalisation, future thinking, and feeling like a jump to the centre-left.

Twelve thousand more people live in the northern suburbs than 15 years ago. Where have we put them? In large houses, sprawled across our hills. This traps us in traffic, and isolates us from our neighbours. 
Wellington could have 80,000 new residents by 2050, the same year we need to become carbon neutral. To house everyone while lowering emissions, we must build townhouses and apartments near what we need – businesses, activities, parks, and each other. I will give local businesses a voice, by promoting a Business Improvement District in Johnsonville. 


Personally; I think that Jenny could tip Peter Gilberd off Council,. Gilberd’s record, in fact, ALL the Northern Ward Councillor’s records, are poor. They’ve delivered next to zero for the community in the last triennium and are mostly invisible.

Jenny may attract the votes of the left-leaners, libertarians, younger, Green, and Labour, residents.

Face Factor; the number of people who have commented to me about Jenny’s hair colour is astounding and a total testament to the fact that your face is important in an election year. It’s a good face, I think; happy, confident, youthful, smart, and open.

Weaknesses; it’s a tough ward, and it leans to the religious right almost. Separating the wheat from the chaff (see what I did there) will be difficult. Youth vote must count here, and Jenny can probably pull a lot of Labour voters away from other candidates because of her style and personality. Bonus points running for Mayor, that will raise her profile significantly.

Verdict; If Jenny can target the youth vote and steal away Labour votes, then she’ll slide into third or second on the table, taking out Peter Gilberd.

Peter Gilberd

The City Scientist, Peter Gilberd is representative of the Tawa ethos, and I’m kind of surprised he got over the line last time. I think his days are numbered, though some name recognition in the area will potentially help.

Since being elected as a councillor in 2016, I’ve worked hard to represent the people of Takapū Northern Ward at the Council table. I have the Natural Environment portfolio, and am City Scientist. I represent the Council on the Wellington Zoo Board and the Zealandia Guardians. 


Personally; I think that Peter is quite engaged in his local community, which could help his chances. In the City Scientist role? Pretty ineffective to date, right at a stage when Climate science is front over everyone’s mind, you never see the City Scientist leading the conversation.

But, he’s running under the Labour branding, so he gets a bit of mileage from that.

Face Factor; he looks like he might be concerned a colourful haired hippy type might be about to tip him off Council.

Weaknesses; His record is not that great. The City Scientist was unveiled to great fanfare, and the role has delivered nothing unless you count buying a pine forest. Age is starting to creep up, and the move against older Councillors across the board is a thing, the whole “move over boomer, we’re coming through” movement is gaining legs.

Verdict; so hard to call. I’m going to tip him to number four in the pack come election day, because of Jenny. He might claw his way back, but it will be (again) by a narrow margin.

Malcolm Sparrow

I’m not spending a lot of time on Malcolm, if there were ever a Mayor of Tawa elected, it would be Malcolm.

It’s been my privilege to serve as your councillor since 2013, striving to make our city a better place to live, and bringing common sense to Council in decision-making for all of Wellington. 
I’ve actively supported development of the Waitohi Johnsonville library; organised yearly Primary Schools’ Citizenship Awards for 17 northern suburbs’ schools; promoted community resilience initiatives, and worked to secure the Forest of Tawa for community ownership. I chair Council’s Regulatory Processes committee and am portfolio leader for Community Resilience. I will continue to work collaboratively with local councillors and communities to get the best results for our town centres and residential neighbourhoods. That includes involvement in housing issues, emergency response planning, and working towards solving Wellington’s traffic issues. 
Having lived in Wellington for 23 years, I’m involved in church and Rotary, and am very active in community life. I would appreciate your continued support. 


Personally; you see what I mean? He’s Northern Ward’s perfect candidate. I want to sing “Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer; I mean seriously, this guy is a distillation of Tawa.

Face Factor; its good photo, it shows the character of the man.

Weaknesses; none. The man is impervious. He’s good to go another three rounds. Seriously.

Verdict; may get some of the shine taken off by Jennie Condie, but Malcolm has got a die-hard demographic nailed down and will be number one in the polls for Northern Ward come voting day.

Jill Day

Running, again, as an independent, Jill Day is our current Deputy Mayor, and probably the one with the lowest profile in decades.

I care about and will prioritise affordable quality housing, transport infrastructure and environmental sustainability. I value diversity, community participation and working collaboratively with people to support their visions. My background in education has helped me increase the participation of young people in council processes, a healthy development for the city. 


Personally; I’m disappointed with Jill’s performance over the last triennium. She has Mayoral qualities but has somehow allowed herself to be shoved to the back of the room by the current Mayor, who may see her as a longer-term political threat.

Face Factor; this is the face of a future Mayor of Wellington if she wants it.

Weaknesses; she’s the invisible Deputy Mayor that no one knows about. She’ll get some votes this time around, but I suspect she is also going to lose some to Jenny Condie. I can’t see her slipping out of second place, but there is a chance she could slide out of the pack if another strong candidate plays a good strategy. I’m not sure she is safe this time around.

Verdict; I want a dollar each way on this candidate, but I am going to say she’ll come back in second. I think she has just enough name recognition to get there.

John Peters

I’ve never heard of John before this campaign, and as we’ve seen, that doesn’t bode well for long term chances of election. His profile is a little strange because he doesn’t promise, well, anything.

As I migrated, I worked at Woolworths as Night fill crew, although I had a Commerce degree it was hard to find a job in my field. I drove Taxi for a while as it gave me the flexibility to take care of our two Children after school and continue with my Studies. 
Later, I enrolled in WELTEC Petone and started my certification in Construction Engineering. Since then I have built a few houses in Wellington and purchased a big section in Lower Hutt which I subdivided into 37 lots. 
Due to driver shortages I am helping out and driving the Bus for Metlink as I have a class 5 Licence from Whitireia Porirua. 
I have purchased a 20 Acre block in Tawa and live here with my family. A regular at Tawa Union Church it is time to give back to the community which has given me so much.


Personally; I might be underestimating John, but I suspect he’s going to be last in the pack this time around.

Face Factor; a perfectly adequate photo.

Weaknesses; no policy to speak off and no presence this close to an election is a major weakness.

Verdict; will come last in the polls.

Tracy Hurst-Porter

Again, a relatively unknown candidate, likely to come near the bottom of the pack, but not quite the bottom, for one reason.

As a Council Candidate I can make no promises about what I can achieve when elected to council because at the end of the day you are only one vote around a table; what I can promise is that I will make myself available to listen to constituents and make an informed decision that takes your points into account. I would like to see no new cycleways built until Council review the success of the current cycleways. I believe cyclists should be made to obey the road code and use the cycleways already created. I would like WCC to put strategies in place to ensure the District Plan is a defining limit rather than the starting point for developers. For over 30 years I have worked in the not-for-profit sector in both paid and unpaid positions. I proudly call the Northern suburbs my home.


Personally; people in Northern Ward love this stuff. “Naughty cyclists! No more cycleways for you! Obey the rules! Obey! Obey!” Seriously, that policy is going to get some votes.

Face Factor; I like it. Warm, open, friendly, and with plenty of colour.

Weaknesses; name recognition, presence, lack of detailed policy.

Verdict; I think second from the bottom on voting day.

Graeme Sawyer

Graeme had a crack back in 2016 and did very well, coming in at fourth with a very respectable vote haul. I’m not sure this is his year with Jenny Condie appearing from out of the Northern Fog, but it’s worth a punt.

My point of difference is breadth of experience (science, environment, water, waste, planning, and public policy) and deep understanding of the issues that WCC is failing at. I have ideas, policies and determination to fix those problems. 
WCCs Planning for the future of our Suburbs is deeply flawed. Their strategy encourages greedy developers to build overcrowded and overpriced housing that damages our communities, and over-extends our communities’ infrastructure way beyond breaking point. I aim to change that. 


Personally; Graeme does feel similar to both Peter Gilberd and Malcolm Sparrow, which is probably why he came in fourth in 2016. He’s got a good presence online and is an experienced campaigner.

Face Factor; He looks like he can get things sorted.

Weaknesses; is he too much the same as Peter and Malcolm? I realised he probably isn’t, but perception is absolutely everything here.

Verdict; fifth in the pack on voting day.


Not a particularly exciting line up for Northern Ward with some real invisible candidates and more of the same, which the residents seem to like. All those like candidates could potentially fall over each other while Jill and Jenny sail right through the middle.


  1. Malcolm Sparrow
  2. Jill Day
  3. Jennie Condie
  4. Peter Gilberd
  5. Graeme Sawyer
  6. John Apanowicz
  7. Tracy Hurst-Porter
  8. John Peters