In October 2022, Wellingtonians will be asked to elect a new City Council and a new Mayor. In this new series of discussions, I sit with candidates to understand their vision and hear how they intend to tackle Wellington’s big issues. In this first episode, I listened to Tory Whanau, the first declared candidate.
- The election and local democracy (02:00);
- Consultation and engagement (19:00);
- The big issues Wellington is facing;
- The big developments;
Benoit Pette: Kia Ora. Today is the 28th of January, 2022. My name is Benoit Pette and I am sitting with Tory Whanau. Tory, you are 38 years old. You’ve worked for the Green Party between 2017 and 2021 as the chief of staff. You’ve got a history of political activism joining protests with your grandfather when you were a little girl. You’ve just moved house from Ngaio to the CBD, but most people will know you for being the first person to announce being a candidate for the next local elections we’ve got this year in 2022, in October. And although you said you wouldn’t release your policies before April, we’re going to be talking today about elections, local democracy, big issues in Wellington, and also big developments, and also give an opportunity for people to know you a little bit better.
So Tory, how are you?
Tory Whanau: Good. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here and to talk about the important issues impacting Wellington and Wellingtonians and to explain why I’m running. So I really appreciate this opportunity.
BP: You’re more than welcome. It’s a big year for you ahead. Have you been preparing during the break?
TW: Well, to be honest, no. I’ve been preparing in the sense that I’ve been resting.
TW: I’ve spent the last six weeks with my whanau. A lot of swimming, a lot of eating and a lot of just connecting. When I was at parliament for a few years, I found that I very rarely saw my family, and I’ve come to realize that, that was not a positive thing to do. The last few weeks have been all about them. And as a result, I feel energized. My cup is full. And even with the year ahead and the potential of becoming mayor, I want to remember that I need whanau with me the whole time to keep me well. That was quite a good discovery, I think.
The election and local democracy
BP: That’s nice. And speaking of your candidacy, I’ve read somewhere that you’re running as independent and yet also, I think, you declared yourself under the Green Party candidate, so which one is it?
TW: Look, I’m running as an independent, but seeking an endorsement from the Greens. And what that means is I won’t be running as a fully branded candidate, as a Green Party candidate just seeking their endorsement. And the reason for that is, I think as mayor, it’s quite a good idea… It’s great to have representation from councillors, either independent or from particular parties, because we need that real blend of opinions and values from across the spectrum. That’s a democracy. But I think when you’re in that top position, it’s just good to perhaps put your party politics aside so that you can properly comprehend everything that’s being put to you. And I also want to make it clear that I’m here to work with everybody.
BP: That’s nice. And actually quite a nice way to get started and paint a picture of where you would like Wellington to go. Would you be able to describe what’s your vision for Wellington in 10 years? Where should Wellington be in 10 years? What does it look like if you’ve had a few terms and it’s looking the way you wish it would look in 10 years?
TW: This is something that really excites me. And the future of Wellington to me is somewhere we have a very strong community. At the moment, we have lots of little pockets of communities, but they’re quite niche. I’m quite keen to build that kind of connectedness with all of us. But what’s also going to help facilitate that feeling of community and safety is a really strong public transport system. We need to be accessible. We need to be able to get to places efficiently and at a low cost, if not free. And that needs to be, of course, contributing to our climate goals. I think we all know where the planet is heading. Our city needs to be future-focused with that in mind. And we need to look at more sustainable ways of housing, affordable housing. Rents, I’d like them to be a lot lower than what they are currently. And for those on lower incomes, whether it’s students or those in public housing, have access to warm dry houses that would pass a warrant of fitness.
We know that the housing market at the moment is in a very funny space. And while a lot of that is the responsibility of central government, I’m keen to work with central government to look at ways that we could stabilize the housing market a lot more.
I’ve been hearing from a lot of women about a sense of safety. I think at nighttime, walking home at night, they’re not feeling that safe. We’re having little pockets of violence around the city, so I’m very keen to look at different ways we can make our city feel safe again. And then, of course, I think some people assume because I’ve come from the Green Party that I’m anti-business. I’m very much not. I care about our business owners. I care about our hospital industry. I’m quite keen to look at ways we can look at a post COVID recovery and get our businesses thriving again, also make this the hub of startups.
And of course, I keep listing things, but again-
BP: It’s cool.
TW: … I’m just excited. I’ve been living in Wellington for 20 years, and when I was in uni, we had a much stronger focus on the arts. And I think that really forms quite a part of the backbone of our community and Wellington’s culture. I will be engaging in fact, I have engaged already with our local festivals, our galleries and so forth because that’s what sets Wellington apart from, say Auckland and something we can be proud of. So I want to see all of that thriving in 10 years time.
BP: That sounds great. I’m interested though, in hearing how this would be different from, for example, a proposition from a Labour candidate or if there’s no such thing as a Labour candidate, someone like other candidates, what are the points of differentiation? Because everyone wants to lower rents. Everyone would like a good strong transport network.
BP: All those kinds of things. What do you think are your point of differentiation in terms of the proposition you are making for Wellington?
TW: Yeah, for sure. What I’m putting myself forward is my ability to bring people together, a team and get things done and accelerate projects. As chief of staff of the Green Party, I did that with our team and helped us get through to really rocky elections. And we gained great success with that. And probably the key thing is helping build the coalition between the Labour Party and New Zealand First. So a key part of my role was bringing the chiefs together to be able to negotiate a policy compromise, so forth. Now, I’m good friends with both the prime minister’s chief of staff and the ex-chief of staff in New Zealand First. I think that’s quite unusual, but that’s how I approach relationships. I respect everyone, and I think when you treat people that way, you get a really positive outcome.
I want to apply that skillset to council because as we know, we are seeing some conflict and petty politics play out. I think there’s actually a lot of good work happening and a lot of talented councillors who do care about our city, but we need to work as a team and we need to convince Wellington that we’re working as a team. And then the next part of that is engaging Wellington and Wellingtonians in our local democracy, believing in what we’re doing, but actually engage. Our voter turnout is so average. And I’m hoping that me putting myself forward as a really energetic, passionate Wellingtonian I would like to think that, that might get a few people excited.
BP: On this one actually, if you were elected mayor, you wouldn’t be the first woman to be in this role, but you would be the first Maori as far I know. And Wellington is actually perceived to be very progressive-
BP: … and also quite inclusive. But do you think Wellington would actually be ready for this?
TW: 100%. In fact, of all the places in Aotearoa. I think Wellington is actually the key place. And we’ve seen that with some of our councillors that we already have, like Tamatha Paul, she’s wonderful. And she’s done an amazing job as a councillor. That kind of proves to me that Wellington is getting there. And Terry O’Neil, she’s been great, having another young person on council and a few of the other current councillors as well. We’ve got quite a high percentage of women on there, and I just think that’s wonderful. Yes, I think Wellington’s ready.
BP: That’s awesome. You talked about the very average voter turnout. Do you think you have an opportunity there to influence this and actually bring people back to the voting box? How can you contribute to that?
TW: I think I have the opportunity to increase voter turnout. And that’s a part of the reason that I’m running actually. It’s kind of engaging more young people, engaging more Maori, engaging more people on the left. We’ve seen some demographics around our current voter turn up being primarily of an older demographic, probably a bit wealthier ratepayers of course, and that’s great. I’m pleased that they care enough to engage in this process and I’m looking forward to connecting with them as well and convincing them why I’d make a great mayor, but for this to be a true democracy, we need everyone to participate.
BP: It’s interesting what you say. You talk about the older pakeha demographic and yet Wellingtonias are also perceived as liberal, urban, progressive types of people. And I actually wonder how it’s playing in the makeup of the council and the fact that we got so polarized personalities at the city council table. On the topic of the city council, there was a survey organized between February and March 2021 last year to which 1500 residents responded and the level of satisfaction with the city council decision-making process was 16%, where the self-set target by the city council is actually somewhere the 50% mark. It went even lower than the previous year, which was already shocking, up somewhere around 30%.
That actually begs the question: where is that coming from? Is it because of the dysfunctional council? Is it because of the perceived incursion of central government in local affairs? Some people would say we’ve seen that with Shelly Bay for example, or is it somehow something to do with engagement? You would’ve seen that for the past few years in Wellington, we had a lot of consultations around the Draft Spatial Plan, then the spatial plan which sparked very polarizing debates. And then now we’ve got the Draft District Plan. Do you think we have a crisis in local democracy in Wellington?
TW: It would be great to have some consistency across the terms. Our last couple of mayors have served very short terms, and when we have a changeover like that, then it impacts the way you make decisions and potentially adds time to projects. Say, “Let’s Get Wellington Moving,” just how long that has taken. I’m keen to look at ways to remove a lot of red tape and accelerate those projects more. I understand there are a couple of business case rounds to go, but the climate waits for no person. I know Wellingtonians are probably feeling a bit impatient, frustrated with progress. So I’m keen to look at ways to improve that there. In defence of the council, if you compare it to some of the decision making meetings that we have with central government, their council’s meetings are accessible and you can view it. You can see the behaviours that are going on. That behaviour goes on in government as well. It’s almost just like I feel for the councillors in a way that meetings like that and making those tough decisions can be a bit tense. But as mayor, I’m quite keen to come in and streamline that decision-making process a bit more. I’m a really strong facilitator and I don’t put up with bad behaviour. I’m quite keen to add my difference to those meetings, but I just wanted to acknowledge that, that would be a challenge for some councillors. And I think the last election in particular, in terms of who was running for mayor and how the campaign played out, I think it was just overall quite disappointing. We had someone come in and financially backed Andy, and that added quite an uncomfortable element with Peter Jackson being involved and Justin who I support. I was on his campaign team. There was a lack of visibility. I don’t think that helped either.
In this election, I want to show that you have a strong, passionate candidate who really wants to lead the city. And I’m hoping it reengages people again. And I can’t name names, but of course, some current councillors and some incoming candidates have approached me and man, we could make such a team if this group of people were either reelected or elected. I can’t wait to be able to talk about it because I met with one this morning actually, and that’s probably why I’m a bit energetic at the moment because to think of the potential of what our council could look like and what we could, this is the time for change, and this is the time to elect the right people.
BP: Okay. Are you saying that you are forming a kind of a team and when will you reveal that team of elected candidates that would run under the same kind of ticket?
TW: Not quite because they’ve got to think about their own constituents and so forth as well. I’m talking to these people to see if we have alignment or agreement on certain policies. And perhaps we don’t present ourselves as a big massive team as such, because I think… I don’t know if anyone’s actually ever done that, but it’s a great idea. It’s more prior to the election, can two of us team up and say, “Hey, we want to make this promise.” Three over here, “We’ll make this promise.”
BP: Well, that would definitively address the concerns or the worries that the team that would actually come at the table would be so disparate and so polarized that actually don’t achieve much.
BP: Which has actually attracted a lot of scrutiny in the past term. Can you actually share if those people you are engaging with are across the city-
TW: They are.
BP: … or that sort of thing? That’s interesting.
TW: We have one who’s a community leader. We have one who is invested in transport. We have a couple of business gentlemen. And I know that they’re politically across the spectrum as well. Early discussions, my dream would be by the time we got to the voting box, we could present a team, but because it’s so early days, I can’t really speak on behalf of these other people.
Consultation and engagement
BP: Understood. On the topic of engagement, we’ve seen as I said earlier, consultations that have been extremely long, extremely complex that in some cases we are attracting a certain type of demographics who actually had the time to commit to consultation. And also once the consultation was over, the council processing of what has been submitted was very different from what had been captured in the consultation. For example, you would have the Cobham Drive crossing. It sounds anecdotal but it’s actually quite symbolic, where you have a massive proportion of the community who said, “We’re not interested in the crossing you are suggesting, the traffic light.” And yet the forces at play decided to go ahead and therefore putting a seed in people’s minds that consultation is actually not worth taking part in because your views will be ignored in the end. On engagement in general, do you see opportunities for improvement on the current processes?
TW: I find that anecdote situation unacceptable. I am all for consultation and that this decision making is based on what Wellingtonians want. And that’s something that I make a promise to do. Without being currently at the table and knowing that in the workings of how they come to these decisions, I probably couldn’t recommend changes at this point, but it is something that I care deeply about.
BP: Another example, the Draft District Plan consultation which ended in December or November last year was a document that was presented to residents. It’s a 1,200 pages document: how can you personally comment on this?
TW: Absolutely. That was the same complaint that I’ve received about that in particular that it wasn’t a good job in communicating that plan to the general public. And I agree, just going back to what you said about someone having the time to actually process that. That lengthy document would work for a very engaged research mind, but we need to create different formats of engagement. I saw that a little bit with Let’s Get Wellington Moving, having online surveys, popup stations and so forth and that was quite-
BP: Well, they have good experience in consultation, they’ve had seven years of that!
TW: True. So yes, actually I think accessibility is key. You’re right.
BP: To finish this part of the discussion on the council and local democracy, looking back at the current council, what do you think has been the most significant, good achievement and what do you think they should have done there?
TW: There are actually some practical councillors that are currently there that have done some quite positive work. Like I’m liking the Poneke Promise and the recent investment of the cycleways. What I tend to tell people is there have been some good projects and there are some good projects in train that the councillors are responsible for. I just think we just need to accelerate that a lot more. I think the council also needs to get better at taking Wellington on a journey with them.
Because one thing that we know that’s going to happen is if these public transport changes happen and we start looking at new bills, if we get to increase our housing supply, there’s going to be a massive disruption to our city. And I don’t think Wellington’s quite prepared for that yet. I’m quite keen to have Wellington council just get better or change the perception of how they currently perform and get better at communicating, get better at sharing the vision and being able to say to Wellington, “Look, this is where we’re going to go in 10 years, and it’s going to be a rough ride to get there because we have to. It is a given.” Let’s do this together.
I was having a chat with one of the local festival people. I was like, “Roads are literally going to be ripped up, because they have to if we’re going to make way for light rail for example. Wouldn’t it be cool to just lean into that disruption?” And we came up with this term like beautiful disruption. Yeah, that road doesn’t exist currently, but one block over, we’ve got this epic festival. I’m really keen to look at other opportunities as well to be like, “Yeah, it’s a bit crappy at the moment, but it’s also kind of cool.” After the Christchurch earthquakes, they’ve got obviously a lot that still needs to be repaired, but the popup bars and things like that, the little things that can have a significant impact on the mood of Wellington.
The big issues
BP: Okay. That’s a nice segway into the next segment, which is about the big issues that we’re going to face in the next 10 years. We were just talking about housing and I’d just like to hear your opinion on the bipartisan law that was passed. I think it was passed late last year in November or December around housing that would allow in this city, any section to be developed up to three storeys anywhere without resource consent. What do you think of that?
TW: I’m supportive of that. And I know that is an adjustment for a lot of our city fringe suburbs. I know there’s been some pushback in say Thornton and so forth. And I respect that. However, we are in a situation where our population is going to increase. We don’t have enough houses. And if this leads to an increase in housing which means the loss of a little bit of sunlight down here, I’m sorry, but we need to get people under a roof. Yes, I’ve been supportive of the bill. And as an example, I’ve popped into a couple of meetings, and I know there’s quite a big demand of seeing, say Adelaide road completely redone. Oh, fabulous. And if that becomes one of a main rail line, oh, that’s part of the vision, right? I want to see stuff like that. It comes back to me saying before, is that adjustment and discomfort. Yes, it’s going to be a little bit like that with housing as well.
BP: Do you think this poses a risk of creating an urban development fabric that goes against the basic principles around good urban development, which has development around transport spines? Because, what people object to this kind of policy is, for example, having density in places where you don’t want it to be because there’s no transport spine there. What do you say to them?
TW: Look, I understand that. And in fact, I was talking to a couple of people who own homes in Aro Valley, which, I guess, you can safely say, would have that issue and how the roads there are so narrow as well. And they’re creating kind of like higher level buildings. It’s just not suited to that style of build. I take that on board, and so I did wonder about whether we do have to look at the environment and communities that already exist and how will this negatively impact that community. I think that’s fair to have that concern.
BP: Yeah, kind of the balance there.
BP: Because there’s another consideration, I guess, to this particular question, which is what you said earlier around consultation. So the Draft Spatial Plan consultation followed by the Spatial Plan and now the Draft District Plan, three themes emerged reflecting what Wellingtonians want. They want three things. They want intensification in the centre and the inner suburbs. They want developments along the main transport spines. And they want a city that is greener, whatever form that takes. So this kind of overrides the outcome of the consultation, this policy. This central policy overrides consultation, and so it’s hard to reconcile.
TW: Right. And as we are talking, I totally get that. And I think we need to take those concerns on board.
BP: And while there is absolutely no debate around the fact we need more houses and more homes, there’s also the question around carbon emission that comes with construction. You would know, obviously that concrete is a high emitter. How do we solve this as we struggle already, as a city, as a capital city of New Zealand to meet our targets in terms of carbon emissions reductions? How do we balance it?
TW: How do we balance it? And that’s why I’m also keen to see our public transport, any changes accelerate as soon as possible. Because I think that’s probably one of the biggest opportunities for us.
I’m not someone who’s going to put climate action on the individual per se, because I know, whereas we know it’s corporations that need to really do their part, but these big collective things like transport, I think, needs to be the priority.
BP: Here’s something to think about, as part of the discussion. So when the first lockdown finished, many people had experienced working from home and it kind of shifted the way people are working today. Not everyone can do it, that’s a given, but Wellington is a government city, with a lot of office workers. And yet there were some calls for going back to the city. If you turn it around can be, well, perhaps there is an opportunity where you encourage working from home. You develop the businesses outside and you reuse, recycle and the third one, I can’t remember now, existing office buildings to house people.
TW: Totally. Yes. I love this. Sorry. I got excited as you said that. I think it’s both. And there’s just so much potential to utilize our current buildings for housing, which is great. And we are seeing some businesses and even as a result of festivals being cancelled, having to react and move to a more kind of a digital way of doing their business, which is great, but that’s not going to work for everyone.
So what I’m keen to see is a bit of both. Once Omicron has done its dash, I’m keen to see people come back to the office, even if it’s 50%, which I believe is applicable to parliament because not also does that create that foot traffic for our businesses again, the community is just sort of best-done face to face. So I’m keen to see both of those.
BP: A balance.
TW: I know I sound like a fence sitter right now, but actually, I care about both and I think perhaps that’s the way forward.
BP: Yes. Speaking of transport, as you said, it’s key to anything we’re going to be doing in the next 10 years. Are you a light rail or a bus person?
TW: Light rail.
BP: Light rail.
TW: All the way.
BP: Okay. And just for argument sake, what do you say to those people who say that it’s insanely expensive and with the advance of autonomous electric buses, that’s got to be just around the corner, it’s already obsolete technology. What do you say to those people?
TW: I think it’s an investment, and yes, it’s going to be costly, but the impact that it has on the future for me is worth all the money. But also my understanding was that of the four options that we put forward, one of the light rail options was actually the lowest cost in terms of the construction. So light rail.
BP: And what do you say to Steve Sanderson, the CEO of the airport who said we need more tunnels and a lot more cars.
TW: No. Sorry.
BP: That’s your answer?
TW: I respect that, but we are just not going to solve our climate crisis like that. Look, I’m all for accessibility and people need to get places and I want more rail, I want more buses. I want people to be able to walk, but I do also want an option to be able to drive their car because that’s just a reality, but more tunnels and more cars, I don’t know why that would be the better option.
BP: Okay. Let’s Get Wellington Moving, so we know what it’s done or hasn’t done. We know where it’s at. Do you have any views on where they are and where they should be going in the next couple of years? What would be your first actions if you were elected to the board of Let’s Get Wellington Moving?
TW: I would look at ways to reduce the timeline of administration that’s happening around this project. I think I mentioned earlier that I saw that there were a couple of rounds regarding the business case. So I would look at that and be like, “Is this necessary?” So that would probably be my first action. How do we look at reducing the time? I don’t yet know what Wellingtonians have had to say about either option yet. So can’t wait to hear that. I had my preferred option. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I was really into number three. But look, if that’s not the vibe of Wellington, I’d respect that and we’ll just see how we can get it moving.
BP: Yes. Now, when you launched your campaign, you had quite a strong focus on water infrastructure and that it was obviously very important for people to get access to safe, clean water. In this light, what do you think of the Three Waters reform from the government, which is somehow surprisingly quite controversial? What do you think of that?
TW: I felt that the controversy was quite interesting and there’ve been a couple of quite negative narratives that have come out of it, which missed the point. I think I’ve been supportive of Three Waters because, at the end of the day, we need better quality of water that’s not going to impact the back pocket of our people in a significant way. And the government put forward a solution on how to do that. Wellington council, in particular, we know that we’ve underfunded on this asset for so long that we need the help. So for me, it’s kind of like a win-win. So we’ve got a solution. The negativity or the pushback that I’ve seen concerned privatization and losing an asset and so forth. The government have made it clear that that’s not going to happen. We’ll see how this plan turns out, and whether they stay with their word or not, I’m hopeful.
I also hugely respect the minister’s work, and she was fabulous to work with when I was working for the government. And I know that she has our water and people at the forefront of her decision making. I think she’s excellent. The other negative stuff that I’ve seen has been kind of like just a touch racist, I have to say. Some people are concerned about the level of Maori representation and what I would say to that, and I’ve explained this to a couple of people and had it with a positive outcome is, Tangata Whenua, when they’re part of decision making, this is not about ownership. This is not about control. We’re kaitiaki of this land.
We want to look after this land and we’ve always been like that. And we’re environmentalists. We just want to create a better outcome for everyone, not just Maori. And so when we’re approaching big decisions with this Maori lens is a beautiful thing and it benefits all of us. So that’s quite the high level, or quite light in terms of me just explaining that to other people, but it seems to have worked.
BP: Yeah, and it provides some background around the decision making and what are the drivers.
TW: The government has committed to being a Te Riti partner and this is what that looks like.
BP: Okay. On the big issues, we’ve touched on climate change, but we haven’t focused on it. So two years ago, or two and a half years ago, the Wellington city council declared a climate emergency. A year later, they released Te Atakura, which was a plan to become carbon neutral by 2050. And the document that was released contained a few gaps and most important was the target that it was set to itself by 2030 reduce emissions of 43% was the goal. And yet when all the actions listed in this document were summed together, only 24% emissions reduction was achieved. So we’re looking at a big gap between ambition and how to get there. How would you fix that?
TW: So that’s going to be part of my policy platform and look at ways to address that. So I won’t be revealing too much today, but that’s why I think… I’m very close to the minister for climate change. And so I’ll certainly be using that relationship to create much more of a streamlined way of working process, so forth so that we can together reach the same goal. Mayor Phil Goff released a very interesting policy later last year around their climate initiative and their transport, and it’ll be looking at things like that.
BP: Okay, transport. In the Te Atakura document, 92% of Wellingtonians who took part in the survey said they wanted action on climate “no matter what”. That was the exact wording. So there’s a massive mandate there-
BP: … for action. So we’re going to have to wait [for your policies package to be revealed].
TW: Yes. But I’m very excited to be able to share that. Just in a couple of months time.
The big developments
BP: Awesome. Onto the topic of the big development. So we have a few big apples and they are in East, they are controversial, and I would be keen to hear what you think of all those. I’ll start with the airport. You know that the airport wants to extend the runway and last time they tried, it got canned. But now they want to expand over the golf course Eastwards so that they can cater for twice the amount of passengers and probably 1.5 more planes coming in and out of the airport by 2040. So what do you think of this?
TW: Initially, I’m quite hesitant about it. From a climate change perspective, it’s not necessarily a positive thing. And that’s certainly what I’ve heard share that view with a lot of people who care about environmental issues. I understand the need or want to get more tourism in our city. I get that, but I’d really just want to… I think there are less drastic ways to do that.
BP: And so I should mention here that we’re talking about a billion dollars investment from the owners of the airport together with the city council. So that’s why it’s actually quite prevalent. It’s not insignificant. It’s quite major. What can the council do though if the airport is pushing in one direction and the mayor is wanting a different one? What can you do?
TW: Look, that’s a good question. And probably one I can’t answer right now.
BP: Yes. There’s been a debate or discussion for the past couple of years around selling some shares in the airport. Do you think selling our shares would actually relieve the council from the conflict of interest and be able to fight or control it in a better fashion? Or instead, should we actually increase the shares in the airport? What do you think would be a better approach to that?
TW: Because those big decisions around the airport would have such a massive impact on our city, I would want to look at ways that the council had much more of a say. It would seem increasing shares might be the way to do that. There’s a risk in selling off those shares and shouting from the sidelines. I would worry about losing that impact on decision making.
BP: And some would argue that actually increasing your shares in the airport makes you more dependent on its income and therefore you’re dependent on a polluting industry. So it’s a tricky one.
TW: It’s tricky. Yes, very tricky.
BP: There is, however, some direct consequences for the nearby communities. Strathmore would be heavily impacted by this. I would imagine that perhaps having a strong sense of the community, you would be looking at this perhaps with this lens?
TW: Yes. Yeah, that’s right.
BP: The next big development which is worth half a billion dollars is Shelly Bay. I don’t know whether there’s anything that can be done on Shelly Bay, but if say, you had your say and you could do something, would you change anything on the course of the Shelly Bay development?
TW: I’m always going to, especially as Tangata Whenua … Generally when it comes to Shelly Bay, sort of not commented too much because I want to respect Mana Whenua and not get too involved. As we know, it’s been quite a tricky, controversial issue internally as well. And out of respect, I’ve not really wanted to wade into that. Look, iwi have a range of opinions as well. I have been hearing a desire for property development in that spot. Look, if that’s what they want, well, then I’d be supportive of that.
BP: Okay. What about Mount Crawford, for example, that is also up for development about the same size and about the same range or half a billion something. Keeping it at the back of your mind also the outcome of the spatial plan consultation, where intensification has to happen close to this CBD (and for good reasons, we want people to walk to work rather than having to take a car or whatever), how do you resolve this equation on one side, letting the development happen in a place that is completely off the transport spine, but also letting the iwi decide for itself? At some point, you need to take a stance.
TW: Totally. I’m supportive of iwi developments because look, as well as the Wellington community, they need to build their own communities as well. And I love seeing developments that provide access to their own people because we know, especially Maori have an even more difficult time when it comes to housing. So I would say at the stage, I’m quite supportive.
BP: Okay. Fair enough. Excellent. So I think we’ve got pretty much everything, Tory.
TW: Yeah, there’s a lot, it’s great.
BP: And all these topics are quite intertwined as well and if you push one direction on this one, then the other one will obviously feel the consequences (…). Now, the conclusion, Tory, do you have a closing statement?
TW: I’m very accessible. I’m here to listen. I will be getting out in the suburbs and going to events to really listen to what Wellingtonians have to say, what they care about. Yes, I have a vision, but that’s my vision. I need to know what everyone wants and what I can do to help them achieve that. And look, being mayor is something that I would really love to do. I’d love to truly represent Wellington. Wouldn’t it be cool to have, I’m going to call myself young, a young wahine, but I’m going to… Take a young wahine Maori who loves the city, who… This sort of fell on my plate to run. It wasn’t the expected career move for me. I just want to put my skills best where they can be utilized. Let’s do this. This could be really cool. We could have such an awesome team at council and then we can create a better city for everyone.
BP: Thank you, Tory. That’s been very interesting.
TW: Thank you for having me.