Mayor’s welcome

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

This is my final Annual Report as Mayor of Wellington and it has been a privilege to lead the Council for the past 6 years and to have served as a councillor before that. Democratic leadership, skilled staff, positive external relationships and committed volunteers form a powerful model for a modern progressive city. Our strategic vision is straightforward; to grow and promote Wellington as an inclusive, diverse, smart capital where talent wants to live, set in a flourishing natural environment.  In the past financial year, Wellington City Council has helped deliver on this vision and I’m proud of the Wellington City Council team who work hard, day in and day out, to achieve that.

The Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA), now in its second year, has started to contribute strongly to the region’s economic wellbeing. Economic growth will blossom from seeds planted this year through the airport runway extension, the new Singapore Airlines route linking Wellington, Canberra and Singapore plus our agreement to build a marvellous movie museum and convention centre. The Collider tech hub and 18 million CBD free Wi-fi logons maximise virtual connections.

Wellington continues to be New Zealand’s arts, culture and events capital. Last July, we celebrated 150 years of Wellington being the capital in style with our Open House weekend and a fabulous concert and light show in the grounds of Parliament. We reflected on World War 1 through our continuing WW100 commemorations. The amazing New Zealand Festival and Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo together attracted over 100,000 visitors and generated $60 million of new spending from outside the region. We worked with New Zealand Rugby to make sure the Sevens Rugby Tournament stayed in Wellington. Summer City, Diwali, the Korean Festival, Wellington Pasifika Festival and Matariki are some of my favourite events and the second CubaDupa highlighted our upgraded laneways.

Our international connections were further strengthened during the year with the inaugural New Zealand-China Mayoral Forum in our sister city Xiamen where we showcased Wellington to major trading and education partners.  We opened a New Zealand section in the prominent Seashine Supermarket chain in the Fujian Province and created more opportunities to export food, beverages, education and culture. We've supported a number of film co-production projects.

I am personally very proud of securing Wellington’s membership in the 100 Resilient Cities programme. With that additional focus we, and our partners, have continued to make Wellington’s resilience to acute shocks and chronic stresses a high priority. We have appointed a Chief Resilience Officer.  We were the first council to assess all pre-1976 commercial and apartment buildings for earthquake risk and we have substantially increased the heritage grants to help owners. Wellington Water Ltd has built new reservoirs and strengthened existing ones. The Island Bay Seawall was reconstructed, but climate change has many more challenges ahead.

We became a partner in the international Biophilic Cities network in 2013. A biophilic city has abundant nature close to where people live. During this year, the Town Belt legislation was enacted and we laid increased commitment to biodiversity and predator control. We also have more walking and cycling tracks to help people enjoy nature and we’ve secured government partnerships for an urban cycle network.

With our partners the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Microsoft and the Energy Management Association, we launched the Smart Buildings Challenge to assist commercial building owners manage and reduce their energy use. 
The provision of quality and affordable housing is a key priority for the city. People are enjoying warmer and drier homes as a result of our work with the Crown to upgrade social housing. Most recently we’ve commenced work on the Arlington social housing complex, a huge undertaking that will transform around 12 % of our social housing stock. We’ve also brought together a strategic leadership group, including central government agencies, committed to end street homelessness. Special Housing Areas have catalysed housing projects including Erskine, Shelly Bay and several Housing NZ redevelopments. We extended the living wage to Wellington City Council staff and Council Controlled Organisations.
Importantly, our finances are in a strong position with Standard & Poor’s AA rating which enables Council to invest for growth and wellbeing.
Thanks to all the staff, Councillors, contractors, artists, entrepreneurs, volunteers, educators, government agencies and other partners who make Wellington “the coolest little city in the world!”1

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown signature.
CELIA WADE-BROWN
Mayor of Wellington
1Vogue, September, 2015