WCC Onslow-Western Ward Candidates Analysed; The Nine Ride to Weathertop, so many mayoral candidates, it’s the hottest contest in town

I’m just going to call this lot “The Nine”, I’m pretty sure Justin Lester is feeling somewhat like Frodo at the moment and avoiding any candidate debates that look anything remotely like being held at Weathertop.

Seriously, we’ve got quite the crowd of candidates running with more Mayoral contenders than any other Ward. The Nine do have the power to get rid of the current Mayor, but some of them might need to saw their arm off to make it happen.

Apologies to The Nine, your my last analysis before we get onto the Mayoral candidates, and there are a lot of you to cover, so it’s going to be a little short.

Rebecca Matthews

A Labour ticked candidate Rebecca is not likely to rise above mid-pack here. Western does not traditionally vote Labour; they like their Blue’s a lot more.

My family and I rent-I’ll advocate for better housing and more support for families. 
We use public transport-I’ll push for a reliable bus service and transport that meets our needs in the future. 
Libraries, parks, and pools are part of our daily lives-I’ll fight for them to be retained and maintained. 
We need a greener city to meet the challenge of climate change-I want to see green waste collections in our ward and do more to minimise waste. 
I’ll be a councillor who gets things done.


Personally; despite running a good campaign, with a lot of high-visibility, I think the Labour brand, in this case, is going to hurt her chances. Anyone running up the top of the hills there needs to be independent and centre-right, and that’s already a crowded space.

Face Factor; a good photo that balances professionalism with personality.

Weaknesses; the Labour tick in Western is a bit of a curse. That coupled with a very tight field and several Mayoral candidates make for an impossible campaign. I know they dragged out Labour hierarchy in support, but it’s not enough.

Verdict; not this time around, but, next time, go independent and also look at the Northern Ward.

Conor Hill

I’m just going to let Conor explain himself to us because he does it so well.

Conor Hill loves Wellington, and wants it to be the best city in the world. He believes homes should be affordable, transport should be reliable and that vanity projects should be cancelled. Conor thinks a warm dry home is a human right, and should take precedence over golf, landlord profits, or arbitrary council rules. He wants to see quality public transport, streets safe for our children, and a city people can cycle around. For Conor the Central Library, Wellington’s democratic heart, must take precedence over a convention centre or an airport runway extension. 
If you are sick of skyrocketing house prices, a city you cannot move around and a council with it’s priorities wrong, vote for Conor. He’ll help build a better Wellington.


Personally; this guy has got stuck in and is having a hell of a debut campaign for Mayor and Western Ward. The policies are not bad, are unique, and while he gets caught up in some technical detail now and again (kindly pointed out to him at every opportunity by a handful of current Councillors), you can see where he is going and how he is going to do it.

Face Factor; has been accused of being a “bearded Lester”, I do not see that myself. I think it’s a good open face, the beard lends some age, credible, with an obvious sense of humour.

Weaknesses; oh my god, why did he choose Western Ward to run? Seriously, Southern or Eastern with the promise to move afterwards would have at least got Conor onto the Council itself. It’s so crowded up there with some massive personalities that it is going to be bringing in votes. That left-leaning won’t help either.

Verdict; definitely not top-three finish, more likely mid-pack, as we have seen with similar candidates in the past.

Rohan Biggs

I quite like Rohan. He’s not getting a lot of oxygen with all the heavyweights banging around Karori, but he is smart, has some good ideas, and will gather a few votes as a result.

The Council’s plans and financial statements make it clear that discretionary investments are driving unnecessarily high rates increases. The Council should focus on delivering critical infrastructure and core services. 
I want rates increases restricted to the rate of growth in the average wage. If the Council wants higher increases for any reason, the choice should be put to ratepayers in the consultation on the annual plan. 
My other two priorities are housing and transport. The Council must play its part in enabling housing supply. Public transport needs to be convenient, reliable, and cost effective. 


Personally; it’s a good outing so far with a strong online presence, good argument, nicely playing with others, and a well-organised campaign.

Face Factor; It’s hard to describe, but Rohan does have a face that says “I’m from Western Ward.” The photo works well.

Weaknesses; Name recognition in a very personality-driven Ward is going to be a problem; seriously, it’s like Trump campaigning up the hill at the moment.

Verdict; much as I hate to say it, not this time. We need more people like Rohan, but getting through the crowded gates is tough.

Richard McIntosh

Ok, ditch the suit Richard and dress in your work clothes. Seriously, you look you are going to get some shit done on your website, it’s pure Western Ward, and it will help you immensely.

Where was I?

I live in Karori, run a tree business in the western suburbs and Makara and work at the National Library of New Zealand as an educator. I’m a civil celebrant and parent of two college kids. As a lifelong conservationist I’m thrilled to see to the native birds back in town. But unreliable buses, lack of housing, decaying infrastructure and declining freshwater quality are letting us down. I’ll bring renewed focus to these issues and more. 
Vote Richard McIntosh 1 for new thinking out west.


Personally; I like Richard’s profile. He’s affiliated Green, has some good policy statements, and overall comes across well.

Face Factor; needs to ditch the suit, I think the working look will appeal to any hidden Greens up there as well as the working area of Karori itself.

Weaknesses; Green doesn’t always go well in Western, which is weird, because the current crop of Councillors certainly ranks the environment highly. It might be the political label, like the Labour tick, that switches people off. Even if Richard ran as an independent, he’d struggle in this morass of big names.

Verdict; not this time.

Ray Chung

Ray ran in 2016 and got a good amount of votes. This time around he’s in a helluva pile of personalities, and it will be tougher.

As a born and bred Wellingtonian I am passionate about this vibrant city which is why I want to contribute to the challenges we face. Wellington has major infrastructure challenges. Smarter consultation, increased transparency and proper engagement with ratepayers are clearly needed to address these issues head on. This is why I worked with my neighbours to establish the Onslow Residents Community Association (ORCA) to foster greater civic engagement. 
My focus will be growing the local economy and enhancing the liveability for all Wellingtonians, while ensuring rates are manageable and locals don’t feel priced out of their homes. My career in Business Development and Marketing took me around the world promoting Kiwi solutions I back our people to succeed and I think Wellington can do so much better. 


Personally; Ray is going to appeal to the city end of Western. The problem is, I’m not sure there are enough votes in that resident base to make a difference.

Face Factor; a perfectly adequate and professional picture.

Weaknesses; very low online presence in an environment where daily interactions of varying qualities are happening with the top candidates for the Ward. That’s going to hurt.

Verdict; Higher ranking than some of the outliers but ultimately, not this time.

Simon Woolf

He sort of is Karori Trump, isn’t he? I don’t mean that in a horrible way, it’s just the random outbursts from time to time, verbose social media posts, and being in trouble a lot with the administration all feel Trump-like. But a good kind of Trump.

Simon Woolf is a strong and proven leader in business and his community As a Councillor, he has worked for a vibrant and safe Wellington. Simon brings a collaborative, common-sense approach to Council. He’s a lateral thinker, a good communicator, and a great listener. A passionate advocate for Wellington, Simon is an upstander, not a bystander. 
With vast governance experience, Simon has served on many boards and trusts. He has contributed to many not-for-profit organisations, charities and sports groups. Simon is a Life Member of Diabetes NZ, the Wellington Photographic Society, Family Planning NZ and is a Wellington Children’s Hospital, Hospi Hero. He is also a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow.


Personally; Simon has quite the rap sheet, and his power has grown over the last triennium. His social media presence is strong, second only to the Mayor, but he doesn’t seem to exploit that (particularly Twitter) as much as he could. Name recognition will assure that Simon gets back in.

Face Factor; he looks surprised and surprised at the nonsense going on in Council!

Weaknesses; can sometimes overshare, though that depends on your perception. Not entirely sure what he’s been up to the last triennium, his record may come into question, and he’s kind of bound his wagon to Diane Calvert somewhat.

Verdict; He’ll be back. Though, I suspect he will have fewer votes this time around.

Diane Calvert

Running for Mayor Diane is also looking in the campaign for Western and should easily get back in while increasing her voting base.

For the past three years, I’ve been one of your local city councillors. I’ve obtained more funding for engagement, piloted a new approach for community planning, saved and championed Khandallah pool and park; and advocated strongly for you on wider city issues such as public transport. 
I’m asking for your number 1 vote so I can continue to deliver more for our city and you. My focus will be on revitalising our local areas, generating support for our local business communities and; planning a positive future for the next generations. 
Our city’s plan for growth must keep rates affordable and be balanced for all citizens taking into account resilience, housing, transport, environment, the economy and changing climate. I love our city and with our family of four daughters and granddaughter all living here, I’m committed to making sure Wellington continues to be a safe and vibrant place for all. 


Personally; Diane is an instinctual political combatant and is not afraid to start a fire, throw petrol on it, and then kick it around a bit. This has become more prevalent in recent weeks as her campaign for mayoralty has ramped up, and she’s present, active, and visible on multiple platforms.

Face Factor; a good, professional photo, did Simon Woolf take it?

Weaknesses; Diane has become a favourite target of the left on Social Media, and there are times where that spills over into some heated debates, this is dangerous territory because a misstep at this point in the campaign could be disastrous.

Verdict; she won’t make Mayor, this time, though she will be back into Western with a comfortable margin once again.

Michelle Rush

Another relatively unknown candidate, Michelle has got one thing right; she’s running as an independent.

If elected I will bring fresh energy, accountability and a vision for future proofing our critical infrastructure including our pipes, roads and streetscapes to the role. I have a background in natural resource management, with a particular interest in sustainable land and water use, and sustainable urban design. 
I work as a professional facilitator with companies, government organisations and not-for-profits. I specialise in collaborative processes where stakeholders from diverse backgrounds need to work together on complex issues (like water planning) and reach consensus. 
I’m currently the Chair of the Onslow College Board of Trustees.


Personally; we do need more people on Council who understand who to lead and wrangle people. Michelle has quite a professional rap sheet with years of experience plus good community links.

Face Factor; Perfectly adequate, friendly, professional, and trustworthy.

Weaknesses; a newcomer in a very heated race with many big-name players in the mix it’s going to be tough to get airtime.

Verdict, not this time.

Andy Foster

A seasoned campaigner Andy Foster will take top prize in Western even while he is having a crack at the Mayoralty.

Andy’s priorities include fixing Civic Square, an affordable, effective transport plan, ensuring ‘Planning for Growth’ protects what we love about Wellington, economic development focused on Wellington’s artistic, environmental and creative strengths, continuing our environmental transformation, and being smart and disciplined to avoid the massive rate rises currently projected. 


Personally; the number one spot is Andy’s to lose, and that’s not going to happen without some total disaster. He’s been around for a long time and has a good record of getting things to happen, even if it takes years to get there.

Face Factor; gone are the unsmiling profiles of the past with a youthful, laughing Foster replacing them in a fresh look.

Weaknesses; Not many, if any. Most weaknesses present an opportunity and right now running from the back and taking on the current Mayor is presenting plenty of moments to score points. There’s not much that can go wrong with this campaign.

Verdict; Will poll first in Western, without a doubt, and has a good chance of toppling the current Mayor in his campaign.


I’m less confident with these predictions given the volatility that is going on up in them thar hills. But, I think it looks something like this;

  1. Andy Foster
  2. Diane Calvert
  3. Simon Woolf
  4. Conor Hill
  5. Ray Chung
  6. Rebecca Matthews
  7. Rohan Biggs
  8. Richard McIntosh
  9. Michelle Rush

Why Western is interesting this year is the number of mayoral candidates that are cluttering it all up. What is also interesting is that if they got together and chose to endorse the strongest candidate, they could topple the current Mayor. But that’s for the Mayoral Campaign analysis article.