WCC Lambton Ward Candidates Analysed; The Left is over represented, Brian Dawson could be displaced, youth shines through

Seven candidates are vying for three seats in Lambton Ward and with all three incumbents running again the only chance of any new blood entering Council is to knock one of them off their perch. What makes this Ward interesting is the youth aspect, which, if one candidate works the student vote well, could unseat a Councillor.  

Lambton is a diverse ward with a seething student population through to the affluent suburb of Mt Victoria and a large general mash of apartment dwellers. Issues are the costs related to living in the central city; rents, rates, insurance, corporate bodies, and the like.

Nicola Young

Nicola is a seasoned Councillor with a decent track record of tackling small projects and making them happen, as opposed to talking about making things happen. She is self-described as a liberal, centre-right politician though is not affiliated with any party, making her independent. That’s important because there is not another politician that falls into the political gap within the spectrum, ensuring a good voting return.

She is also one of the only candidates that are talking about fiscal restraint as a policy in a time when the residents of the city are facing unaffordable rates bills, that will get significantly worse in the next few years, and a fascination with vanity projects when basic services need to be fixed.

I want Wellington to be a vibrant affordable city, with core services delivered well, and I’m really worried about the 50% proposed rates increase over the next decade. Council must tighten its belt – there’s too much talking, and not enough action!


Personally; Nicola strikes a chord with a large slice of Lambton’s residents. She’s a typical target of the Left Tribe and is regularly attacked on social media. That tells us that they see her as a threat to their picks in this seat, which they should because Nicola can drift quickly to centre taking away valuable votes from the left, particularly on fiscal responsibility.

Face Factor: an open face that shows transparency, some style (she’s the associate Arts and Culture portfolio leader after all), and strength.

Weaknesses; not that many, if any. A solid performer and straight up and down about where her politics lie and what she thinks is important. Despite some attacks over the last triennium by social media leftists, nothing has eventuated, and it’s served to further her cause and profile.

Verdict; Will easily get back in give she has a very strong support base within the area. Nicola’s main rival is Iona Pannett, who is far-left, so the opportunity to take support there is limited.

Brian Dawson

Brian is Labour affiliated and has been another solid performing Councillor, particularly in the area of social housing. He’s the only candidate (that I know of) that does not live in the Ward that he is running for.

As a councillor I’ve worked hard to find realistic solutions to those challenges, address issues around homelessness and begging in our streets, introduce a Living Wage for council staff and contractors and ensure we are creating a safe, resilient and liveable place for all who call Wellington home. 


Personally; I like Brian. He’s a likeable fellow. I know that Brian is a bus driver and does rent, which puts him quite close to the way that the city is feeling and it also gives him some good debating skills. Even though he is Labour affiliated, he doesn’t feel like a Labour person to me. He feels like a growly, older bus driver, with a reasonably high level of instinctual knowledge about the city.

Face Factor; it’s a good open face with a sprinkling of amusement thrown in and ears that look like they are adept at listening.

Weaknesses; I think that Brian’s weakness might be Tamatha Paul. I have a sneaking suspicion that Tamatha could pull voters away from Brian while bringing in more voters from the student base. Brian can come across as a bit growly from time to time, but not in a condescending way, which could put some people off, but, my suspicion is, that a younger student connected candidate could topple Brian,.

Verdict; seriously tough to call, but I’m going to have a crack. I think that Brian will be edged out by Tamatha Paul (yes yes, we’ll get to her soon.) As I said, it’s going to be a close race for what will be third regardless of Brian or Tamatha winning it.

Shan Ng

There is very little available to read when it comes to Shan. It’s a constant problem for commentators, for residents, and candidates when a good profile with some good policy is not available. Coming this late to the race as well, it’s not just Shan by the way, I am complaining in general, is never a good thing. Ideally, you want to campaign all the time, certainly by the prior February.

I was born and raised in Malaysia, a place where diversity was our birthright. 16 years ago, I chose to make NZ my home. I have grown to love this country and wish to contribute my own small part to this country. I strongly believe that our political representation should be every bit as diverse as our society. This is why I choose to put myself forward to serve as your elected representative. I intend to bring forth new ideas to promote creativity and foster innovation. I intend to ensure that taxpayer funds are spent effectively on pragmatic solutions. I intend to make Wellington attractive to businesses looking to invest, to create jobs and opportunities to Wellingtonians. 


Personally; the statement above is ok. It’s well thought out, and it’s timely. But that’s all I can find. I’d like to know more, but there is no information available to me.

Face Factor; Open, engaging, interesting, and trustworthy.

Weakness; definitely visibility, or lack thereof. Also, I see that Shan has been called out on social media over this strange policy around buses. First, remember that the WCC can’t do anything about the buses, and second, people are reading this as a reduction in routes policy.

“To improve the ‘bustrophe’ timeliness, capacity and reliability issues, I aim to revise the bus routes so there’s fewer routes and more buses coming more often, add more buses and hire more drivers to meet demand, and work with GWRC to redesign a better and simpler bus network.”

Election 2019: Wellington City Council Lambton ward candidate profiles

Verdict; going to be near, if not last, in the pack. A lack of information coupled with a late start to campaigning is going to hurt, a lot. This is quite unfortunate as some of what Shan is espousing is important, and I feel like there is much more of a story there that is just not coming through.

Harry Smith

There are times when I regret putting together these kinds of analysis pieces, and this is one of them. Harry is another younger person having a crack at politics, which is grand, it’s just it took me a lot of digging, like Shan, to come up with anything.

Harry is a student of public policy at Victoria. He’s also a paid-up member of The Opportunities Party, whatever that means.

Wellington should be a place where every family can afford a healthy home, where every person can travel freely, and where every young person has opportunities. Local council must do what the central government will not – tax the wealthy and absent landlords and land-bankers. I will do so, and in the process we will invest back into our community through initiatives such as affordable housing and social services, with a goal of zero homelessness. I will also advocate for free public transport and decent wages for drivers, and vouchers to foster youth participation in extracurricular activities. 


Personally; he has his website here, which currently lacks some of the previous posts, which due to the magic of the Internet, you can find here. Now, you’d expected the smart kids at Victoria and around the city to have figured out that they could have run a candidate in every ward, instead, they’ve ended up with two in the same Ward. Just saying.

Face Factor; Judge for yourself.

Weakness; Tamatha Paul. Lack of information. Some of the available information. I might be being overly harsh, but running around after candidates who need to sort out presence, policy, publicity, promotion, and anything else that starts with the letter ‘P’ (apparently) is tiresome.

Verdict; if the students want a representative on Council, then Harry should withdraw and endorse Tamatha Paul.

Tamatha Paul

Tamatha Paul started her campaign early, has good presence, clear messaging, a little bit of fire in the belly, and is the young person that you want to see around the Council table. It’s that simple. There is an “x-factor” here as well, and I think, as I said earlier, she could unseat Brian Dawson.

I stand for connected communities, who are the lifeforce of our city. I stand for a sustainable Wellington, where we give back more than we take from our environment. I stand for hardworking, everyday people who are the glue of our sprawling public and private sectors, and deserve a wage that they can live on. I stand for a capital city where everybody can find a home that they can afford, and a bus that they can catch. I stand with my community – young and old, students and workers, from all walks of life. 
E tū Pōneke, it’s time for future-facing leadership on Wellington City Council.


Personally; Tamatha will be placed on the left by commentators, though I suspect, she doesn’t see herself that way and is running under the independent ticket. She will pull votes from the Labour candidate, Brian Dawson, as well as from Iona Pannett, running under the Green logo I suspect by the younger members of both parties.

Her policies are pretty simple, are clear, and to the point.

Face Factor; this is, quite literally, the future face of New Zealand. It’s a good, trustworthy, youthful, face.

Weaknesses; differentiating herself from Brian Dawson and Iona Pannett is going to be hard. The policies can’t be quite the same, because she needs votes from their base to take out Brian. There is no point in going after Nicola Young’s voters, for obvious reasons. Students could win this for her if she can get them to vote, which has traditionally been no easy task.

Verdict; If the stars align, then Tamatha has a good chance of unseating Brian Dawson and sitting at the Council table.

Lee Orchard

I didn’t know who Lee was until he ran for Council. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I stand for celebrating and supporting our diversity, caring for our environment (environmental health is personal health), public ownership of assets and services, city resilience and actively addressing the effects of climate change, core social services, educational opportunities, arts and culture, a living wage and equal pay, better resource management and urban development, reliable transport, freedom of information, and the many areas essential to our quality of life. 


Personally; Lee could have had a better chance at this if he had started campaigning early. Seriously, a year ago would not have been too soon. I quite like his profile, in particular, the Ngāti Porou quote; “Your interests are my interests.”

Face Factor; it’s a great face. It’s smart, wise, inquisitive and full of a Buddha-like humour. A great photo.

Weaknesses; Name recognition, profile, presence, are all going to keep votes very low. When you are up against two incumbents on the left, that’s a tough sell.

Verdict; it’s not going to happen this time around. Next time around, starting early, and pulling away the vote from the left-leaning residents could see a good result. Also, Tamatha, like some smiling mako shark is out there as well, and she’s already got that voting base in her sights.

Iona Pannett

There is Green, and then there is Iona. If Iona were a dictator then I am quite sure cars would have been recycled, public transport would be free and ubiquitous, fossil fuels banished, recycling done right, and all manner of environmental consciousness forced upon the citizenry. And hey, who says that’s a bad thing?

Wellington is thriving but transformational change is needed if we are to become truly sustainable and resilient. 
I am an infrastructure leader with a track record in delivering successful waste, climate change, water, heritage and resilient building initiatives to keep our city running whilst protecting our precious environment. 
My priorities: 
Climate first: zero emissions, single use plastic and waste free, a sustainable and secure water supply, no runway extension or new motorways 
Transforming transport: 30km speed limits for safe walking and cycling; affordable and reliable buses, light rail now 


Personally; Iona is a hard worker and what you see is what you get, she walks the talk and is unashamed about that. You have to admire that ethos, and that is why she will most likely take the number one spot again this time around. How she goes next triennium will be tempered by the fact she has taken on pretty much a full-time job, and I don’t think you can have a day job and be a Councillor.

Face Factor; I don’t like this photo. Sorry. I think it is the signature head turn that Iona has, it looks like she is listening, but in a slightly intense and scary way.

Weaknesses; Tamatha Paul is going to eat away at some of Iona’s voting base, but not enough to make a significant difference. There is no one else that comes close to that Green core. However, Iona has had some mishaps in the past where she’s made a controversial statement on some issue or other, which has ignited a firestorm. There is potential for that to happen in the remaining weeks.

Verdict; barring a disaster, Iona will win, and she’ll take first place.


Here are my predictions;

  1. Iona Pannett
  2. Nicola Young
  3. Tamatha Paul
  4. Brian Dawson
  5. Lee Orchard
  6. Harry Smith
  7. Shan Ng

Frankly, Lee, Harry, and Shan should all capitulate and give their endorsement to Tamatha. That would give her a better than marginal chance on winning and the policies are in alignment.

5 thoughts on “WCC Lambton Ward Candidates Analysed; The Left is over represented, Brian Dawson could be displaced, youth shines through

  1. “Frankly, Lee, Harry, and Shan should all capitulate and give their endorsement to Tamatha. That would give her a better than marginal chance on winning and the policies are in alignment.”

    No! No! No! That is FPP thinking.

    One of the beautiful things about STV is that voters can vote their true preferences, without fear of wasting their vote. That means, if these three candidates are all excluded during the count, their votes will transfer to the second-preference candidates on the relevant voting documents.

    If Lee, Harry and Shan’s supporters want to make sure their votes count, they can give Tamatha a second- or next-preference ranking that is higher than any preferences they may also give for the high-profile candidates.

    In other words, there is no need for Lee, Harry and Shan to ‘capitulate’ and endorse Tamatha; their supporters will endorse her – if they want to.


      1. “What is also interesting is that if they got together and chose to endorse the strongest candidate, they could topple the current Mayor.”

        Thank you for your response. I notice you also made the above comment in respect of the Onslow-Western mayoral candidates, which is also incorrect, for the same reasons.

        You are, in effect, suggesting that candidates with some, or no, hope of winning, should drop out and leave it to one of them – but which one? – to go up against Justin Lester in an FPP contest. That, of course, is not going to happen.

        Keep in mind that, had the 2010 mayoral election been an FPP affair, Kerry Prendergast would have won comfortably. The main reason why Celia Wade-Brown came from behind to “snatch the prize”, was because those voters who voted for the “also-rans”, knew their vote would not be wasted when those candidates were excluded from the count. In a sufficient number of cases, their votes transferred to Celia, such that, at the end of the count, we were able to see that, having voted their true preferences, 24,881 people voted for Celia, compared to 24,705 people who voted for Kerry, i.e., with STV, Celia was able to overcome a 3,249 first-preference vote disadvantage, to win by just 176 votes.


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