So, a decision has been made by the Councillors of the WCC – let’s hope it was the right call. I’m not jumping for joy, I’m not down in the dumps, I’m just evaluating the decision. Hmmm. Pondering.

Our Mayor and her greenbackers

I actually watched a whole lot of the debate on the You Tube channel, live, which is a tedious thing, but vaguely instructive. They need to sort their video streaming out so that we have more to see – most of the figures of people talking are of the back of their heads or the sides of a partially hidden face – and you can’t see any of the detail printed on screen either, but still, it was sort-of useful to have in the background as a peaceful / mad cackling background noise.

Jubilant Councillors

Did I follow what they were doing? Not entirely, and if the Councillors were honest, I suspect that many of them were also a bit lost at times – voting on Amendments to Amendments to the original Motion – what applies, or what does not? Anyway, things were passed, and in some cases the Council agreed with what the Independent Commissioners Panel had proposed, while at other times, they rebelled and proposed something different. This may be a dangerous tactic, which could badly backfire, but we may not know this for a while.

The Bishop of Wellington

Why do I say this? I’m sure that you know, but in a nutshell: because Minister Bishop has said that if Councils rubber stamp what the ICPs have proposed, he will stay out of it. On the other hand, he has threatened that if Council’s try and play silly buggers (almost a direct quote?) and make up their own minds, then the final decision will come down to him, and him alone. To me, this is playing a game of Russian Roulette with the baddest man in town – he has the only gun, and he is only putting it at your head, not his own, plus we are not sure how many bullets he has in the chamber. Terrible simile I’m sure, but that’s all I have time for at present. The WCC is literally dicing with death here – leaving decisions up to the notoriously “I don’t give a flying fuck what you think” Bishop is a tactic that could / might / almost certainly will backfire. He is not someone to be trusted with anything, not even the keys to the train set, let alone an entire city.


It therefore really worried me when one (unnamed, side-on) Councillor said things like “I don’t know why we are discussing this train through Khandallah, as the decision is up to Bishop anyway, so he alone will decide whether it is classified as a “high speed route” or not.” Leaving anything up to Bishop is a stupid decision, but leaving the future of a train line up to him is political suicide. Well, death-on-the-tracks suicide anyway – Bish is a man who has publicly stated that he is not really interested in railways except for the two Metro services – Auckland and Wellington. And while the Johnsonville Line is definitely part of the Wellington Metro services at present, this could change at the drop of a hat. That hat being a bishop’s mitred peak….

It is not just the future of the J’ville Line that is of concern – giving dominion to make decisions over the size and shape of the city to Minister Bishop is also an incredibly dodgy / stupid thing to do as well. The Council is taking the view that Bishop will just agree with the WCC decisions that usurp the results of the ICP, and rubber-stamp the new decisions, but honestly, if you give him the power, I believe he is just as likely to say “Bugger the lot of you, I’m in charge now and THIS is what will happen.”


What was also really concerning is the complete and utter lack of knowledge about many of the issues, by our elected officials – and by some of their advisors. Having not listened to many Council meetings before, I was fairly aghast at how dumb some of the mutterings were from the Mayor and Councillors. This was hugely apparent with some discussions over Architecture and Heritage, of which there was widespread cases of “I haven’t got a clue” from the Councillors and even the Council Officers as well. We had the future of Heritage pieces of Architecture being decided by various Councillors and whether their sister / mother / aunt had lived there, or what Councillors could see from their window if they looked out the window in the morning. Not very scientific basis for the future of the city, to be honest. And of course, when it came to the future of the Gordon Wilson flats, widespread confusion rained so hard that it was as if a whole plane load of covid-cases had fallen from the sky and rendered them all stupid.

For the record, and on the vague off-chance that one / any of the Council ever read this blog, most of what they discussed about the Gordon Wilson Flats was often incorrect. This blog has written about them several times before, it seems, including here, and here, and here, and here and of course also here.

Gordon Wilson flats – typical layout

One Councillor ventured the proposition that what made it famous / worth keeping is that it was approved under a National Government – while that is indeed true, that is not the thing that is heritage about the building. The REAL important thing is that all of the apartments are brilliant little double-height spaces, which allows the lower floor to have a entry corridor at the back, but the upper floor to have a window at front and back – significantly improving the life of anyone living in the building.

Should Paddington be taller, perhaps?

That’s something that you don’t get in modern pokey little flats like the awful Paddington, which is sadly just Shitsville in a brown paper bag.

Paddington Kitchen / Dining Room, taken from the “Living Room”
Paddington Bedroom from the Outdoor space (Quality!!) and looking through to the “Living” room behind

The Council / Councillors were also really confused over why the Gordon Wilson flats were listed or whether there was anything else like them in town – or in the city – or in the country – or in the world even? “Wasn’t there something like them in Auckland ? In Grays Ave?” asked one Councillor? Another replied – “No, those were demolished.” The first one then explained that they were “absolutely sure that they had NOT been demolished, as they saw the last week.” I think that actually the REAL truth is that Kāinga Ora has just spent millions completely rebuilding them in Greys Ave in Auckland, so that they are new, and better, while still similar, but no, they are not the originals. Of course, KO could do the same here in Wellington, except that they sold them to the Vic Uni people, from memory, for $1. No, wait, was that the Teacher’s College? Never mind, they have destroyed the Teachers College anyway – it is clear that Vic Uni does not really give a shit about heritage modernist architecture.

Dixon St Flats – part detail of one plan. A very different kettle of Fish

Someone at the meeting was not even sure if they were talking about Gordon Wilson or Dixon St flats – they are physically very close together, but (apart from also being empty) they are architecturally, quite far apart.

More on this another day. I’ve got to go have dinner!