Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau admits public service cuts to fund water infrastructure will be 'tough'

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau defended public service cuts across Wellington as the capital battles to fix its water crisis.   

Wellington City Council had a public meeting on Thursday to work out how it will fix the city's leaking pipes.  

Whanau said after hearing from the public, the council has prioritised water and increased its funding by $1.8 billion for drinking water and water meters.  

Speaking to AM on Friday, Whanau said the meeting was "tough to work through.  

"We have taken some cuts," she said.   

The cycleway network's funding being reduced by $80 million and the Golden Mile Project being rephased were amongst the examples she gave.   

"It's tough. We know people don't like it, but this is the environment that we are working in," Whanau said.   

Am co-host Lloyd Burr asked whether Whanau needed to be even tougher on cuts to achieve the mammoth water funding target.  

"If people want lower rates, we'd have to be more ruthless," she replied.  

A rates rise of 15.4 percent was on the table, but a final figure couldn't be determined at the meeting.  

"We did start at an initial rates increase of 26 percent," Whanau said.   

"If we do start to add on things like the pools and increasing investment elsewhere those rates will go up."  

Whanau emphasised that the community was listened to at yesterday's meeting.   

"When it came to the library hours and swimming pool hours, we rejected those cuts," she said. 

Over 10 years, one in four dollars spent by the council would be going on water but Whanau said they realistically need even more than $1.8 billion.  

"We're working with the region, as well as Wellington Water and our Minister to work towards a more sustainable CCO model and water reform so that we can increase funding," she said.   

She confirmed the cuts made were enough to generate the $1.8 billion.  

Another thing cancelled to fund the infrastructure revamp is the graffiti cleanup crew and Burr questioned whether Wellington would become ugly without it.  

"Little things like graffiti will still continue on council properties, it just means personal homeowners will need to do it themselves," she said.  

"I think we've struck the balance by still prioritising water but also investing in housing, climate initiatives, and city revitalisation.  

"It'll be tough, and we're running a bit of a tight thread, but we can still do it."  

She said that not investing in initiatives like cycleways will lead to a "dead city" in the future.  

Wellington residents can have their say on the plan when consultation opens on April 12.