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Mayoral candidates use Town Belt time to hold up other policies

Sep 6th, 2013 | By | Category: Latest News, News


LINING UP: Mayoral candidates from left, John Morrison, Nicola Young, Karunanidhi Muthu, Jack Yan and Rob Goulden.


WELLINGTON’S six mayoral candidates were brought together for the first time this week to discuss protecting the Town Belt.

The candidates were invited to speak to the Friends of the Town Belt about their views on the belt.

However many candidates used the opportunity to discuss their other visions for the city.

Friends chairman John Bishop opened the meeting of 30 people by saying that they had been working towards strengthening legislation around the town belt.

He invited the potential mayoral candidates to speak, with a “bonus point” for anyone who actually discussed the town belt in their opening speeches.

First to speak was Nicola Young, who spoke of her history in journalism, insurance and politics, and her policies like turning “derelict corners [of the City] into parks”.

Karunandhi Muthu’s prepared speech did not apply to the town belt, so he chose to improvise and talk about how his upbringing influenced his politics.

Former Councillor Rob Goulden said that the city has “got to put its hand up [for government funding] or Wellington will become a backwater”.


Mayor Celia Wade-Brown (right) focused most on the town belt, saying she is committed to working with Central Government to protect it and to working 130 hectares back into the belt.

Councillor John Morrison started his speech by discussing the belt, but also delved into other policy ideas such as earthquake strengthening heritage buildings.

Second-time Mayoral campaigner Jack Yan said he supported the free wifi program in 2010 and that he believes he can market the city to the world.

Each of the candidates added that the town belt was important to the city, with Ms Young calling it “sacrosanct”, while Mr Muthu saying he wanted to “prepare and preserve the environment”.

Mr Goulden and Mr Morrison both made it clear that the town belt would not be sold off as an asset.

Mr Morrison said he “can’t find a Wellingtonian that would dream of doing it”.

Ms Wade-Brown outlined her vision for the town belt which would not include any rumoured invasive structures such as gondolas, while Mr Yan said he thought it was “integral to what we are as a city”.

The meeting was rounded off with the Friends of the Town Belt steering the discussion back to how the mayoral candidates would protect the belt.

By this stage Ms Wade-Brown and later Mr Morrison had left for other engagements.

After being quizzed by the group, the remaining candidates said even if Wellington became a super city, they would not allow the belt to be sold off.

The final word of the evening was from Friends member Robin Buxton, who urged all the candidates that they “make sure that the town belt is at the front of everyone’s minds”.


New candidates fail to impress at first meeting


WELLINGTON’S new mayoral candidates may need to brush up on their knowledge of the Town Belt.

The candidates fronted a crowd of 30 at the Friends of the Wellington Town Belt meeting at St Peters Anglican Church but failed to impress the passionate group.

Organiser and chair John Bishop described Tuesday night’s mayoral candidate meeting showed up some gaps.

“It’s clear that some of the new candidates need a better understanding of the Town Belt before they get any deeper into discussing the issues.”

“In general, the candidates committed themselves well to the issues that were raised,” he said.

The Town Belt is a hot topic for Wellingtonians judging by the 259 public submissions received on the drafting of a new revised management plan recently.

Mr Bishop said the Friends of the Wellington Town Belt were satisfied with the result of the consultation.

“We have been happy with the council over the last two years with their significant change in commitment to the Town Belt.”

In June a revised management plan for the Wellington Town Belt was approved by the council, a process that took two years.

While Mr Bishop would not reveal who would receive his vote in the upcoming election, he said none of his preconceived ideas were changed as a result of this week’s meeting.

It was preceded by the Friends of the Wellington Town Belt annual meeting where the Mr Bishop delivered a positive report detailing the progress of the management plan.

He said the group looking forward to assisting in the submission of a draft on the Wellington Town Belt Bill early in 2014.

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