Sue Wells – The New Canterbury Tales

May 16, 2011

The day after share an idea #eqnz

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sue Wells @ 9:22 pm
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The Monday after the Share an Idea expo.

Each Monday, we (the council) are gathering to discuss the planning of our new central city.

Today we started the debrief on the weekend’s events. Only half of us were able to be there, but even so it’s my observation that the councillors are on the same page, as are the staff and the excellent team of consultant professionals who are assisting us in this process.

Put your hands together in the shape of a cathedral, and there you see how the management and governance of the city are coming together at the moment. Move your hands from side to side, shape them into cats cradle forms and bring them back together. Let your fingers fall loose, form cup shapes, clasp them back and forth. There you see the iterative process we are now embarked upon. When you do that, watch what your fingers do. If you do it for long enough, they start to mould and form a shape that might be a ball, but which might stretch and pull into anything.

All great cities start from the same place. They are homes and market spaces and entertainment places and public realm – for people. For people who live there now, who come in the future, people who will be left there in the land from which we all came. All great cities understand that and speak to it. They reflect the intrinsic culture of the people who live there, not some sanitised McCity that might have worked elsewhere.

We have excellent, intelligent, proficient professionals working alongside us. They will keep showing what is occurring on  It was great getting to know them a little better today. I wish there had been a camera in the boardroom at the Art Gallery so you could have met them too. You would feel immensely reassured, as I think you would have by the councillors comments and questions.

Mike Yardley from Newstalk ZB rang in the morning tea break, a pre-arranged interview. He asked in passing how I felt, as a long standing councillor, about the weekend. My answer was something like this.

I’ve loved town planning since I discovered it in 1995. Along the way other people have told me it was boring, refused to take part, mocked the process. I used to apologise for my love of planning – explain that I was the most boring woman on the council. I’m not apologising anymore. Town planning is as sexy as hell. How could you not love it?

This weekend to me was Christmas. Seeing the excitement of everyone there, feeling the strength of all those conferences, all those seminars, all that learning – this is our right place together, and our right time together. I know I won’t be in charge of the planning committee when the last building is erected in our new city because that will be many years away, but I know someone equally as passionate as me will be there. It will be my job, among other things, to make sure there are many easy ways in to that position. Political aspirants – apply within.

In the meantime, how to make planning easier and friendlier and more appealing?

I would love someone to make SimChch. Play is the best way to learn. I would love to empassion teenagers with really good brains, get them into planning as an ideal first choice, not as a filler.

This is a profession where the bold, the fun loving, the intellectual, the curious, the quirky, the creative, the chess playing strategist, the empathetic, the commercial and the practical all need to come together to make things work. I love it. I’m beginning to understand why.

So after our workshop (usually we will be meeting four mornings a week, with council meetings as well, then hearings and other business on top of that before we all depart for our homes where we deal with our own emails and diaries and such) I went to voice commercials for a new client (come in Dunedin!), tried unsuccessfully to drop off a friend’s Telstraclear decoder (where are you now? not on Barbadoes!), bought a crepe pan at Mercato, dropped the car in for a service, ran to South City with Pepper to get passport pictures taken, came home for a two hour meeting, packed for tomorrow (off to Wellington) and now am watching Inglourious Bastards in front of the fire and digesting Nick’s rather excellent ham cheese and onion toasties. Teenagers. Love them.

A good day. Tomorrow, gale force winds in Wellington. A lovely day to fly. A night away – perhaps a catch up with friends – perhaps a night enjoying the serenity of a modern hotel in a city that’s not on a fault line …. oh wait ….. that’s …. that’s nowhere in New Zealand. I’ll just enjoy what I have while I can.




  1. Hi Sue – I would have loved to come, but with no car, and child, and venue off in the distance (never did figure out where it was) I chucked the whole thing in the too hard basket. Delighted it is happening though, amazing to know there is consultation going on now – after September I sort of took it as a given there would not be any. I love town planning as well, in fact, thinking of transferring my degree to Lincoln to focus on this…..Briar

    Comment by Briar — May 17, 2011 @ 7:03 am | Reply

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