I’m not a candidate for local government but I offer some ideas for those that are to consider and adopt as they see fit.
1. Vision: We need a vision of how Wellington can be 20 years from now, we need to take stock of our current situation and then we need a strategic plan to bridge the gap. While the government sector will continue to be an important part of the regional economy it no longer dominates – and neither should it. The future prosperity of our region will most likely include a thriving high value export sector.
2. Make more effective use of being a smart connected city – with our tertiary education sector, ICT sector and educated workforce. Our strengths in tertiary education, broadband, creative content and hi-tech start-up companies could be transformational for the Wellington regional economy and for New Zealand.
3. A global perspective: Wellington needs stronger links with high-value export markets – particularly those in the fast growing Asia-Pacific region. This may involve building direct links to overseas markets – including trade ambassadors in those markets. We’ll need suitable infrastructure such as easy access to international markets through efficient world class sea and airports. This may involve a significant level of direct investment from overseas partner companies. Accelerate the construction and enhancement of rail links to the north of the Wellington-Porirua urban areas. It will also require a willingness to partner and collaborate but with a clear strategy involving ownership of NZ-created content and NZ-owned IP.
4. Environment: Recognise the value of our compact capital city, the green belt environment and allow sustainable access to it. The conservation work undertaken by organisations such as Zealandia whereby the green belt helps to regenerate indigenous plant and wildlife helps to preserve the unique physical and environmental beauty that can be found throughout the Wellington region.
5. Finally, don’t neglect the basics. Reliable electricity supply, robust water storage facilities, a good state of preparedness (and support systems) for major natural events, and enhancement of high-value primary industry exports out of the wider Wellington region to global markets are obvious inputs to becoming a thriving, creative and exciting central region. It would be interesting to review existing spending and council investments against such growth-enhancing strategies.