News | 2 November 2023
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Citizens’ Assembly has its say on shaping the city’s future

A Citizens’ Assembly, which gathered for a month to give a collective view on prioritising Wellington City Council services, has delivered its report to Council.

Citizens' Assembly group photo
Citizens' Assembly group photo

The 42 participants were asked to consider the question, ‘We need to find a balance between what Wellington City Council could deliver, and what resource it has available, which is fair to everyone. How might we do this?’


Their report provides advice about revenue, capital expenditure, open spaces, housing, community funding and process, and has been presented to the Mayor and Councillors to help inform decision-making on the 2024-34 Long-term Plan


Full report (3MB PDF)


“We were able to give Council a really good, in-depth view of how Wellingtonians are feeling,” says Citizens’ Assembly member Hinetiwai Emmerson-Marchant. “It makes you feel like you’re being listened to – and you’re being heard.”


Citizens’ Assemblies are a form of deliberative democracy. They focus on collaborative decision-making by bringing a diverse and representative group together, to deliberate and make an informed decision on a complex topic where there is strong public interest.


Invitations were sent to 10,000 randomly selected Wellington addresses. Around 800 people responded, and the participants were selected by an independent research agency to represent Wellington’s population in terms of age (16+), gender, ethnicity, education levels, and home ownership. 


Mayor Tory Whanau says she was excited to read the advice from the Assembly, which would make a valuable contribution to future decision making.


“It really has the community at the forefront, which is exactly the way we need to be thinking.”


Councillor Rebecca Matthews, Chair of the Long-term Plan, Finance and Performance Committee, says it was a real privilege to hear from the Assembly and receive their report.


“I was blown away by the diversity of the group, the energy in the room and the quality of their mahi. It’s a rare opportunity to get informed, considered, collaborative advice from a group that is genuinely representative of Wellingtonians. Their work will help shape the draft Long-term Plan that will go out for wider community consultation next year.” 


The Citizens' Assembly is one of a number of opportunities for Wellingtonians to provide input into the development of the 2024-34 Long-term Plan.


Watch video here

Citizens' Assembly members putting up hands to ask questions
Citizens' Assembly members ask questions

Advice from the Citizens’ Assembly: 

1. We advise that the Council:  
needs to increase diversity of revenue streams – current and new – with the end goal of reducing the percentage of funding from rates  
advocates to Central Government for changes to legislation to enable the Council to access alternative revenue streams  
considers investments and partnerships so as to best use resources to supplement rates revenue.  
2. We advise that the Council review its capital expenditure programme by prioritising spend and spreading capital expenditure over a longer period based on availability of funds.  
3. We advise that, within funding constraints, the Council prioritises:  
looking after the assets we’ve got before building or acquiring new  
the most cost-effective way to look after their existing assets.  
4. We advise that when the Council is repurposing Council buildings and land in urban areas that they prioritise green space where suitable and practical. (Consider underutilisation and long-term disuse, high insurance and high depreciation, high refurbishment cost.)  
5. We advise that the Council use community-based help to maintain and utilise Council-owned open spaces and when creating and improving existing open spaces (road reserves, parks, walkways etc.). Increase tree coverage and biodiversity (indigenous and foreign species).  
6. We advise that the Council re-evaluate the criteria for heritage buildings and spaces to prioritise sustainability, safety, and population growth as well as buildability and utility.  
7. We advise that the Council prioritise and advocate for infrastructure development that supports medium to high density housing.  
8. We advise that the Council:  
has closer relationships with groups receiving funding, enabling Council to better allocate funding, and increase funding in areas needed  
advocates for increases of funding/changes that need to happen at a Central Government level  
puts resources towards information brokering between community groups applying for same/similar output and those groups working together  
publicises community services more, particularly those funded by the Council.  
9. We advise that the Council continue to support and maintain grant funding in line with the cost of living/inflation for community groups and ensure that as part of the decision-making process Tākai Here partners (mana whenua) are part of the committee to ensure it delivers a bi-cultural aspect to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  
10. We advise that the Council develop a more deliberate process which effectively engages, includes and inspires and reduces the costs of poor planning and re-work.   

View the Citizens’ Assembly video here, and report here (3MB PDF).