Council and Victoria University to Grow Living City

18 February 2013

Wellington City Council and Victoria University of Wellington have announced a groundbreaking three-year research collaboration, to explore issues of the city's resilience, ecology and urban environment.

The formal partnership is a key component of the Council's 'Our Living City' project, which aims to strengthen urban-nature connections, improve quality of life and help achieve the city's strategic vision of Wellington Towards 2040: Smart Capital.

"This research will examine how to build economic opportunities from a healthy environment," says Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. "Wellington will lead the response to natural disaster preparedness and sea level rise.

"Teaming up with Victoria University, one of New Zealand's top research organisations, we will find the innovative strategies we need to make Wellington an even better place to live, study and work," she says.

One feature of the partnership is the potential for a long-term research project coordinated by a post-doctoral research fellow. The research could traverse topics as diverse as urban ecological restoration, sustainable economic and urban growth, resilience, tourism and urban design.

Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon, who is also Chancellor of Victoria University, fully endorses the partnership. "This relationship will be of considerable benefit to both parties," says Mr McKinnon. "It further establishes the city's focus on ecology and resilience; and underlines the importance of research to the University."

The agreement was formalised just before Christmas and has already seen eight students from Victoria join the Council for 10-week summer internships, working across the organisation on a range of different projects.

The summer interns are exploring issues such as how get more volunteers for community conservation programmes, assessing the performance of green star-rated buildings, considering the economic benefits of Wellington's compact form and green spaces, and investigating how we can create a strong network of links for the movement of wildlife, pedestrians, cyclists and storm-water through the City. 

The students have now been with the Council for five weeks and the internship programme is an opportunity for them to gain valuable practical experience says Victoria University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Neil Quigley.

"Victoria has a long history of dynamic partnerships in Wellington, and this research agreement provides us with an opportunity to help the city further develop its urban environment.

"Students from many different areas of study - from commerce to public policy to architecture - will have the opportunity to contribute their expertise, and we are very proud to support Wellington in this way."

Details of the Student Intern Projects

  • Public Policy student Tom Pettit is looking at the economic benefits green spaces offer Wellington. He is also developing a model to help predict how transport use will shift with policy and infrastructure change.
  • Maree Martinussen, completing a Master's in Social Science, is trialling different ways to increase voluntary participation in our Community Greening programmes - where volunteers plant native trees on reserve land.
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Studies student Hester Neate is carrying out a study into the development of a strong network of green spaces and links through the city that will encourage the movement of wildlife, pedestrians, cyclists and stormwater.
  • Mathew Hosler, completing a Master of Building Science, is helping assess the level of earthquake strengthening of Wellington's buildings to gain a better understanding of how the market is responding the issue of earthquake risks.
  • Economics and Finance student Cameron Hobbs is quantifying the economic benefits derived from Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park. 
  • Landscape Architecture Master's student Myren Burnett is helping to complete the mapping of Wellington's streams (there are currently many unmapped and unrecorded streams in the City).
  • Design and Innovation student Chris Callus is creating a series of videos promoting commuter cycling in Wellington.
  • Building Science graduate researcher Hendrik Prins is assessing how Green Star-rated buildings perform and how the recent green building trend is impacting Wellington's office market.