State of Wellington: Alive and kicking

23:44, Jun 09 2013

First came the indignation. How dare the prime minister suggest Wellington is dying?

Then the cliche-riddled denial and self-soothing. We are the "coolest little capital", aren't we?

Now it's time for reality. And to do something positive, something smart, something creative, something big about it.

Wellington is not dying, of course not, but neither is everything cool in this city and region.

All too often we hear of public service numbers being slashed, of corporates moving to Auckland, of Christchurch's quake rebuild leaving Wellington as the forgotten, neglected child, of council infighting and inefficiencies, of big projects stalling and fading away.

But here's the thing: The reality is far brighter than we've come to believe.

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And that is not a cheap slogan or pie-in-the-sky thinking - that reality is based on the six-part series, The Wellington Report, starting in this paper and on dompost.co.nz today.

In it we examine the state of the region, with particular focus on the city, as the hub of governance and the economy.

It spells out our weaknesses, losses and challenges, and that, in a way, we've become our own worst enemies.

We're simultaneously envious of Auckland's huge growth and benefits, yet recoil at the very thought of becoming overpriced and gridlocked like it.

We're all doom and gloom as we regurgitate the reported redundancy of more than 3000 public servants - without ever having verified the accuracy of the reports or numbers.

We get glum when we hear of city businesses closing their doors - but fail to celebrate the many new ones.

Our failure is becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Even more importantly, The Wellington Report proves that the region faces an incredibly bright future - provided we take a hard, honest look at ourselves, address our shortcomings, recognise and maximise our potential, make hard decisions on whether we'll become a super-city, consign petty politics to the past - and think BIG.

John Key was right when he flippantly said that Wellington could not forever rely on the public service, Weta and a university as the backbone of its economy.

There's no denying these three sectors will continue to be pillars of our economy.

But at the same time the face of our region will change. We will become older, more diverse; our economy will need to be based on smarter, greener thinking; we'll need to stop dreaming and talking about big projects and actually get them going.

A longer airport runway, a conference centre, more students, more tourists - all of them are do-able, if we harness our talents and energies.

The Government has a clear message for Wellington: Don't come cap in hand. Rather, think big and bold, and we will invest in it.

Make a business case for growth, don't rely on cliches to do it.

It's time to think and act big and creatively.

The Dominion Post