Summary of our year

General overview

Three years ago, as part of the 2015-25 10-year plan, our economy was underperforming and we had to invest in projects that would help rejuvenate the city.

Today, we have strong economic growth and a different set of challenges. Increasing population growth on the back of a stronger economy has exacerbated housing issues, and transport congestion has also become more acute.

While we’ve always been conscious of the city’s vulnerabilities, the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake emphasised the need to invest more into making the city’s infrastructure and communities more resilient.

These are difficult challenges to resolve for any city, and the focus for the last year has been on addressing these issues while also continuing to deliver the broad range of essential services that keep the city running.

Delivering the essential services well

Wellington City Council offers over 400 different services that are delivered to a high standard and support Wellingtonians to live-high quality lives.

Many factors go into determining people’s overall quality of life. The core services we provide as a Council, and how we shape the city to make it a good place to live, work and play in, are a big part of that.

Wellington is often recognised – both nationally and internationally – for its liveability, and over the last 2 years Wellington has topped Deutsche Bank’s list of 50 cities for the best quality of life, beating Zurich, Copenhagen and Vienna.

We closely monitor how well we are delivering our services, and how satisfied our residents are with the services we provide and how the city is developing.

Over the last year, we achieved or substantially achieved 75 percent of the 192 performance measures that we use to monitor our services. This is on par with previous years and reflects the Council’s consistent and strong performance. 

Twenty-one percent of the targets we set were not achieved for the year. Where there is a significant variance in performance, the document provides an explanation for that variance. The remaining four percent could not be measured this year.

We are constantly looking at how we can improve services for our customers. A key area of focus this year has been to better understand how people use our services, and to map those ‘customer journeys’.  This programme of work will help us redesign and improve our services.

Making the city more resilientTop

The 2016 Kaikoura earthquake tested Wellington’s infrastructure, buildings and community resilience. While generally the city performed well, the focus over the last year has been on improving the city’s overall resilience.

This has involved the continuation of a long-term investment programme in cycleways, major water infrastructure such as the Prince of Wales/Omāroro Reservoir, and improving community resilience infrastructure through the distribution of alternative water supply bladders in key parts of the city that can be used in an emergency.

Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the government implemented changes to the Building Act for earthquake-prone buildings, creating a nationally consistent approach to the assessment and management of earthquake-prone buildings, along with a standardised notice and national public register of these buildings. The Council has been proactive in managing seismic risks well before the changes took effect. Over the past 12 years, we’ve evaluated the vast majority of Wellington’s pre-1976 buildings – a total of around 5300 buildings. Of these, 666 buildings have now been put into the national earthquake-prone building register.

In the past 18 months, we’ve also been working with central government to identify buildings with unreinforced masonry (URM) elements that required urgent remediation. We supported 113 building owners to undertake the urgent work on URM elements of their buildings that could fall and injure or cause a fatality in the event of an earthquake. Most of these have now been addressed or are near completion, with only 35 remaining.

The year culminated with an in-depth discussion with the community through Our 10-Year Plan 2018-28 for significant additional investment in the coming years to make the city more resilient. This was strongly supported by the community, and approved by the Council in June. The plan included a suite of revised performance measures.

Planning for the futureTop

The city has always had sustained, moderate population growth, but with a stronger economy in recent years, population growth has accelerated. Housing affordability and transport congestion issues have become accentuated, and over the last year the Council spent a significant proportion of its time planning for a future city where there are better housing and transport choices for residents.

Up to 280,000 people are expected to call Wellington home by 2043 (currently 212,000) and this will require better transport choices and an estimated 20,000–30,000 new housing units in what is a constrained urban setting.

A significant area of focus for last year was finalising the city’s housing strategy – adopting a housing investment programme that will see the Council more actively use its existing housing portfolio to accommodate more people. The strategy and investment plan provide a clear blueprint for how the Council will invest to improve housing choices for Wellingtonians in the future.

Transport was also a key area of focus during the year. The Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme of work – a partnership approach to resolving inner-city transport congestion with Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NZ Transport Agency – was advanced.

These two substantial planning exercises, and the preparation and adoption of Our 10-Year Plan 2018-28, map out how a significant investment will be spent in the coming years to make the city more resilient, provide housing choices for all, improve transport, and make sure we maintain our high living standards.