Green Light for Council-Zealandia Partnership

13 June 2012

Wellington's ecological renaissance received a big vote of confidence after the Council's Strategy and Policy Committee unanimously agreed to implement a new governance and funding model for Zealandia, says Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

Mayor Wade-Brown says Council clearly listened to the public. After considering public submissions and undertaking further analysis, Councillors voted in favour of a new 'partnership model' that will deliver certainty for Zealandia and for ratepayers.

"Zealandia has been a key part of the biodiversity renaissance in our capital," says Mayor Wade-Brown.

"Today's decision gives their 500-year vision a firm foundation. Our natural capital has received a big vote of confidence today."

The partnership model will:

  • allow volunteer and community support to be maintained at current levels.
  • enable the Council to develop an active partnership with the Guardians of the Karori Sanctuary Trust.
  • enable the Council to continue to appoint three of the seven board members and exercise the right to appoint the chair.
  • include funding from the Council to Zealandia of $350,000 in 2012-13, and $700,000 in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Zealandia has sufficient cash reserves for the first half of 2012-13. Future funding would be subject to a satisfactory review to be conducted by an independent person.
  • be underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The Council has been concerned for some time about the sustainability of Zealandia's business model and established a working group last December to consider Zealandia's latest funding requests.

In April, the working group advised the Council that no further funding should be provided to Zealandia until the governance and operational issues were addressed. As a result, a number of options were put out for public consultation. However, after analysing public submissions and undertaking further work the new partnership model emerged as the best way forward.

The Mayor says today's vote is a good outcome and will result in a stronger partnership between the Council and Zealandia.

"Wellington citizens are in favour of collaboration and cooperation across environmental attractions, but not necessarily amalgamation," she says.

"The Council has listened and agreed to a partnership model with the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary Trust.

"The capital's ecological advantages and potential are far wider than four specific locations. Therefore, Council agreed to advance a wider ecological framework for the city, potentially including Victoria University's scientific expertise, the Town Belt, the South Coast and other contributors such as DOC and Forest & Bird."

Mayor Wade-Brown acknowledged the value of the many parks, reserves, Council's pest control, the many volunteers and key organisations such as the Zoo, the National Plant Museum (Otari-Wilton's Bush) and iwi in supporting Wellington's environmental wellbeing.

Councillors will make a final decision on 27 June.