Wellington Mayor stands down to walk NZ

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown (Emma Jolliff / Newshub.)
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown (Emma Jolliff / Newshub.)

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has pulled out of the local body elections to walk the length of New Zealand.

In a surprise news conference on Friday morning, she announced she won't be trying to continue her six-year reign as Mayor or go for any other position on the council.

"I'm ready to move on. To be plain, I will not be standing for election in any position in October 2016."

Ms Wade-Brown says she's achieved much in her time as Mayor and her 20 years career in local government, 14 of them as a Councillor.

After her term ends in October, she'll take up a part-time course teaching English as a second language as well as walking the length of New Zealand, and says she's been offered a number of board positions.

"One that I've accepted is the Walk21 international foundation, which is promoting walking, and I'll be delighted to work with colleagues around the world to make walking easier and more visible as a very important health and environmental matter."

She also took a snipe at Councillors, saying: "I've been inclusive of all elected members, not that they've always been grateful. I'm heartened that I leave my mayoralty with the city in really great shape."

She has been considering pulling out for some time.

Among her regrets is not to have got light rail in the city, but believes it's still possible in the medium term.

She marked bringing in the living wage for council staff and contractors, securing the Movie Museum and Convention Centre and cycleways as part of her legacy.

Now that she's pulled out of the Mayoral race it won't exactly thin the crowd of hopefuls, with seven others in the running so far.

Ms Wade-Brown won't endorse any candidate until nominations close on August 12. But she did have some advice for those thinking of running.

"To all of the people willing to put themselves forward for democratic elections: it's not easy, but my goodness when you get in it's an amazing amount of fun and an amazing amount of work."

Ms Coughlan says Ms Wade-Brown has served a long time on council and as mayor and that she should be thanked for her service. 

"I think Celia has wanted to move the city forward but ultimately, under her leadership that's not really going to be possible in terms of infrastructure projects.

"We've always worked collegially together and certainly we haven't always agreed on things but we've had respect for each other's opinions."

On what is reported to be a divided council under Ms Wade-Brown she says: "councils are not caucuses...it's a contest of ideas and ideologies sitting around the table. I think Wellington council's done some very good things, we've got a tech hub underway, we've got our first long-haul flight flying out in less than a month, we're about to sign off a convention centre and a film museum, but we need to do more".

Mr Lester expected Ms Wade-Brown would run again but said it would have been difficult to win after two terms. 

"It might be time for a change in Wellington.  She's been a good Mayor, a very hard working Mayor. I always respect the decisions she's made because she's done so with integrity and she's always done things in the best interests of Wellington.

"Celia's always stood up for the little person, she's always represented communities that otherwise might not have been heard, she's been a strong advocate for the living wage and for cycling."

He says it's not disloyal for a deputy to run for Mayor. "That's democracy, I think I can do a different job." 

This year's local elections will be held on October 8.