Leggett on Wellington local government

Porirua Mayor writes in the Dom Post:

Having nine councils and countless government agencies pulling in different directions, I’m not surprised it took seven decades to get Transmission Gully started.

While we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, people I talk to in Porirua and throughout the region share my concern that Wellington is lagging behind. We can be stronger as a region by working together.

Tomorrow, the Local Government Commission will reveal its plans for the region, which I hope include the creation of one unitary council to cover Wellington City, Porirua, the Hutt Valley and the Kapiti Coast. It’s been 25 years since the last shakeup of local government in Wellington.

My hope is the commission offers people a clear choice: do we keep plugging away with nine separate councils and 321 operative plans, or do we unite behind a single council to tackle big regional challenges alongside local boards that ensure democracy at the community level?

We know we don’t need a super-city. We’re only one third the size of Auckland. But the way we do things now is not making the most of our strengths so as to insulate ourselves against our weaknesses.

At the moment, local councils are either too small to fund and manage the major infrastructure projects or too unwieldy to deliver local services. We don’t need to choose between local democracy and effective regional decision-making. We need to give local people more tools and resources to shape their communities, while tackling major challenges like water, public transport and economic development at a regional level.

For Wellington to live up to its awesome potential as a place to live, work and raise a family, we need to do a better job of aligning resources and capability to the public policy challenges we face.

There’s reason to believe the status quo is letting us down.


I agree the status quo is flawed. Like Nick, I think one Council for the Region, and local boards for each community would be a better model.

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