The Eye of the Fish

August 5, 2016

Wellington mayoralty

With Celia Wade-Brown stepping out of the race this morning (announcement to be was made at 10.30am), the race is, at last, wide open. With the exception of rank outsider Keith Johnson (and he is pretty rank – never met such a grumpy old bugger in my life): the candidates so far yelling and screaming with their hands up for the top job are all current councillors. Clearly a case of too many chefs in that particular kitchen, all trying to make creme caramel, but just ending up with minestrone soup.

So what of the candidates? What is our choice?

Helene Ritchie. Sorry Helene, but you’ve been on the Council for far too long – 9 terms? For heavens sake, have you no sense of shame? Stop hogging the limelight and give someone younger and more capable a chance.

Justin Lester. Currently deputy Mayor, but seems entirely absent from actual achievements and charisma. Your mayoral adverts are plain and simple and bland and tell me nothing. Not sure why anyone would vote for you, except that you will be innocuous. Is that a good thing in a Mayor?

Jo Coughlan. Seems to be 100% focused on roads – brilliant pro-roading posters all around the city (well, visible from every motorway on-ramp and off-ramp) – full marks to your graphic team but I wonder if going for the cause of more roads is actually a good thing. Most noticeably, I have yet to hear anyone tooting their horn when they are confronted by your poster saying “Toot if you want a second tunnel”. No one is tooting for you Jo, except perhaps people who live outside Wellington, and so they won’t be voting in your electorate. I think Wellingtonians have moved on from the Basin Bridge debacle and know that actually, more roads are not the answer.

Andy Foster. Have seen no posters around town for him, so no idea what he stands for yet. Of all the Councillors, he is certainly the hardest working that I have met, and he rides a bicycle, so he would certainly seem to not be pro-more-roads, but until his campaign really launches, we’re not sure what his policies would be. He is the only regular reader and corresponder to the Eye of the Fish, so he gets full marks for that, but we need to know more.

Nicola Young. Largely seems to be standing for: anything that Celia is not. So, not into cycle ways, and seems to always try to claim the credit for laneway revival, as if she has built it all single-handedly herself. Not sure that is entirely correct. Will appeal to the blue-rinse brigade, and to those that think it is important that you can claim a link back to the first 4 ships into Wellington harbour – but I think we’ve moved on from this as well.

Nick Leggett. Porirua lad, done good. Was Mayor of Porirua, and a very young one at that, but surprisingly left his position, and his town, to have a run at the Wellington mayoralty. Why? Unknown in this town. Pro-roads. Left Porirua in the lurch. Not sure of the point of his action, or his policies.

What are your thoughts? Comments welcome….

Mr Green
5 - 08 - 16

I had such high hopes for Celia Wade-Brown’s mayoralty – felt sure that by the end of 3 years we would have, at the very least, a decent cycle network throughout the city, and at best, a good step on the way to a Light Rail public transport system for the city. Instead we have – nothing. As Kermit said, it’s hard being Green.

Greg Young
5 - 08 - 16

I think Celia’s success was also her downfall: her insistence on reaching a consensus agreement rather than insisting everyone does it her way. Consensus clearly doesn’t work when herding cats, whether they are microchipped or not. The Island Bay cycle way should have been a winning part of her legacy, but ultimately it was poisoned by vicious lies and bullshit put out by Vicky Greco, supported by the weak-willed and simple-minded councillors in the Southern Ward. Such shameful, stupid opposition by Paul Eagle, who worsened it with his lapdog attitude to Nicola Young. Hard to put up with that sort of attitude from the ranks.

Sack the lot of them. The existing Councilors should all go.

5 - 08 - 16

So who am I to vote for if I actually want cycleways to get built in this city? Leggett, Young and Coughlan are actively hostile, Lester doesn’t mention it in his campaign materials, Helene Ritchie…well, just no, that leaves…Andy Foster, who has been in charge of transport for donkeys years and we still don’t have any cycleways.

What a sorry bunch of candidates.

5 - 08 - 16

Well, curiously enough, the National Party is now the biggest player in the Cycle Way business. They seem to be actively taking a leaf out of other party’s books, and doing things that are not traditionally National. So: a National Cycle Way is a push from the current John Key-led government – they are putting much more money into the cycle way initiatives than Labour ever did, or Green party ever will be able to.

5 - 08 - 16

Curiously, and not that it is worth anything at this stage, but an online poll on the DomPost website gives the odds at present to:
31 % Jo Coughlan
29 % Nick Leggett
24 % Justin Lester
8 % Nicola Young
3 % Andy Foster
3 % Helene Ritchie
1% Keith Johnson
and 1 % also to someone called Johnny Overton who I did not even know was standing. Who is he?

No matter. So, at this stage, it is looking like a 3-way Jo-Nick-Justin race. Not what I would have expected, but then, politics seldom ever is…

8 - 08 - 16

I need to know where the candidates stand on the con job that is the runway extension. At this stage only Helen R is opposed as far as I know. That would put me in position i really don’t want to be in.

andy foster
8 - 08 - 16

Hi Interjohn

For me the runway extension has a lot of very big hurdles to get across, and there is a lot of information we simply do not have yet. Therefore a simple ‘yes’ at the moment is irrational. A ‘no’ is more understandable – whatever the economic case some people don’t support it – and I respect that view.

For me those hurdles are:
Resource Consent – this should deal with the environmental issues one way or the other, and then if it gets through those it would come down to financial and economic arguments.

Clear evidence that there are airlines prepared to commit to appropriate destinations, with sufficient frequency, and for sufficient length of time.

Solid analysis of the economic benefits. This would need to include potential for businesses to locate to Wellington, as well as direct flying benefits.
Solid analysis that showed the money could not deliver better economic or other benefit elsewhere.
Solid analysis of whether the same air connectivity or similar could be delivered through a commercial relationship a la Singapore Air. You could find something between 15 and 20 similar cost airline proposals for the interest cost on the runway extension.

Finally there would need to be an investment vehicle such as a ltd liability company to own the runway extension, charge for relevant uses etc.

So rest assured Interjohn there will be a lot of hard questions.

Happy to discuss.
Kind regards

Andy Foster
Chair Transport and Urban Development
Mayoral Candidate

Seamonkey Madness
9 - 08 - 16


So you are saying one of the hurdles would be: are you able to give ratepayer money to another airline(s) if they promise to fly to Wellington Airport and its shiny new runway extension?

That is economic madness in my book, plain & simple.

Speaking of the Singapore Airlines “agreement”, have any KPIs been enforced on it? If so, how are they tracking as of now?

andy foster
9 - 08 - 16

Hi Sea Monkey – hell no ! What I mean by ‘clear evidence that there are airlines prepared to commit (etc) is that one of the hurdles is having a really good idea about airlines actually committing to Wellington. $300 million is far too much to invest without some serious confidence about airlines committing. In my view ‘build it and they will come’ is very hard to contemplate. That also doesn’t mean paying them to come here because with a longer runway they should be able to run fuller places.

The other relevant comment I made was about Singapore Air. The purpose of runway extension is to get direct flights to/from distant locations. Agreed ?

The deal with Singapore Air also achieves that – albeit with one hop but still on the same plane. Singapore will spend the money on marketing Wellington and the route.
So the outcome is the same. Point I was making is that a deal with an airline or two may prove a much cheaper way of achieving the same outcome.
It seems pretty silly to want to do both !

The key message is that this is not a gimme. When the time comes there will be a lot of hard questions.

I hope that is clear Seamonkey.



Seamonkey Madness
10 - 08 - 16

Thanks for the reply Andy. You are at least communicating to the people.

I still have misgivings about the Singapore deal, but thank you for clearing up a misconception I had (relating to what Singapore Airlines were bringing to the arrangement).

The thing I am scared about is that Wellington (the collective community) will see the granting of the Resource Consent as a green light. Opponents will throw their hands and up and shriek that all is lost (not the case) and proponents will rub their hands with glee, expecting fat contracts and easy money (also not the case).

It should be communicated CLEARLY and LOUDLY that RC approval does not automatically mean it will be built.

It just seems to me to be a bit ridiculous to even go ahead with the resource consent, when indications from airlines are that it is not feasible to use a runway extension for an airport that is right in the middle of two existing long haul-capable airports.

All the public can see from the majority of council is them covering their ears and shouting “la-la-la-la, I can’t hear you”.

10 - 08 - 16

Thanks Andy and Seamonkey and INterjohn for bring this up and discussing it. The mention of Singapore Air is interesting to me – not sure if it is in any way a done deal, or just posited as an example, but it seems an unlikely contender to me. My reasoning is as follows:

Air New Zealand already has a major hub in Auckland and a minor hub in Christchurch, and has made it very clear that it does not ever plan to run long haul planes out of Wellington. Fair enough, it gives them no advantage to use Wellington.

The same will go for other airlines that currently also have Auckland or Christchurch as hubs. Fair enough there too. Doesn’t Singapore Airlines fall into that category there as well?

But it is the (many) other airlines of the world that do not currently fly to New Zealand that, in my (fish) eye, are more likely to be interested in making a deal with Wellington. The list of Chinese international airlines is long:
Air China
Beijing Capital Airlines
China Eastern Airlines
China Southern Airlines
Hainan Airlines
Juneyao Airlines
Okay Airways
Shandong Airlines
Shanghai Airlines
Shenzhen Airlines
Sichuan Airlines
Tianjin Airlines
Tibet Airlines
Xiamen Air

and that is just China. Then there is Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, etc etc. Shall I start on India? No, maybe not, but the population of India is destined to grow to be much higher than that of China – and the middle classes of India are just as keen to travel as are those of China. The point is: there are many airlines in the world who may want to get a foothold in New Zealand where the big airlines are not, and they will be being targeted by the WIAL folks, behind the scenes, or else this proposal would not be on the table.

11 - 08 - 16

Looking again at the Stuff poll about a week later, the support has changed just a little, to:
33 % Jo Coughlan – up 2%
29 % Nick Leggett – same
24 % Justin Lester – down 2%
8 % Nicola Young – same
3 % Andy Foster – same
3 % Helene Ritchie – same
1% Keith Johnson – same
1% Johnny Overton – same
Last week the voter count was 8500 people, this week it stands at 15600 people. Given that there is nearly double the amount of voting since a week ago, I would have expected the numbers to have changed more than they have.

But, so, the race is perhaps focusing on Road transport more than Air transport? Coughlan is openly heavily pro-road – I wouldn’t be surprised if she is sponsored by Mainfreight or the Trucking Industry people, all her advertising is so totally focused on roads, although I still haven’t heard a single person either toot their horn or profess their desire to have her as Mayor. Leggett, as well, seems to be focused on roads – large swathes of the hillsides beside the motorway are being chewed up by giant machines as we speak, starting the installation of interchanges for Transmission Gully and the Petone to Grenada Link Road. Two of the biggest wastes of money ever, if you ask me, much more wasteful than an airport extension….

Pauline Swann
19 - 08 - 16

Well Keith is no grumpy man, but a very sensible and highly educated candidate and does not have grandiose ideas and will consult with the ratepayers “not public excluded”.

22 - 08 - 16

Pauline – Keith is not a grumpy man? Are we talking about the same man??!!! Have you read his blog? Here’s a quote from him, where is in turn quoting Oliver Cromwell:

“Bloody hell – quelle shamblage! To quote Oliver Cromwell’s speech to the House of Commons 20th April, 1653 on the Dissolution of the Long Parliament:

‘It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

‘Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man [or woman] amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

‘Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!’ ”

– Levi says : yes, he has found a great quote, but if you don’t agree with me that it indicates a bit of a grump, then we’re not living on the same planet!