Statements of Service ​Performance

Economic development
Whanaketanga ōhanga

Wellington is at a crossroads

A prosperous local economy is central to the city’s wellbeing. In the recent past, the economy has relied on two things to sustain its growth: expansion of the public sector; and an arts, culture and events scene that makes the city vibrant and attracts visitors. Those sectors have served us well. They have brought jobs and prosperity, a high quality of life, and a strong sense of city identity. They have also allowed us to remain resilient in spite of external events such as the global economic recession and the economic uncertainties following the Canterbury earthquakes.

But they cannot, on their own, deliver sustained economic success.

If we were to continue as we had, our economy would start to fall behind as other cities surpass us in technology and innovation, and adapt to a more competitive environment. We needed to act, and did, putting in place a vision of the city as a smart capital.

Wellington’s economy is transitioning

It is built around knowledge, creativity, and services. Wellington’s workforce is highly educated and the most tech-savvy in the country.

The city has the highest concentration of web and digital companies in the country, and the largest employer is now the professional, scientific and technical services sector.

These sectors of the economy rely on talented and knowledgeable workforces. As a result, average incomes and average GDP per person are significantly higher in Wellington than the national average.

Now we need to invest in projects and relationships

We have to generate more revenue if we want to invest more in Wellington’s amenities. If we invest wisely in projects that deliver a return, we will grow the business rate base and create opportunities for new and exciting city projects.

This year we’ve been developing a growth agenda to catalyse the city. The focus includes:

The Council’s financial position is strong – we have an AA credit rating and relatively low debt – and we have the opportunity and the resources to do more if we choose.

We’ve made a good start creating the conditions for growth

This year we:


Our economic development activities contribute to us being:

People centred: Our activities make Wellington a vibrant and entertaining place to live. They connect people with places and ideas, make Wellington an attractive place to live and do business, and attract tens of thousands of visitors to the city every year.

Connected: Major events, and our performance spaces and conference venues connect us to artists and events of national and international significance, and Wellington’s story is connected to the world by Positively Wellington Tourism’s marketing and promotion. Event-based websites and social media platforms are connecting people to what is on and how they can be there.

A dynamic central city: Our events, festivals, spaces and venues anchor Wellington’s appeal as a place of creativity, exploration, innovation and excitement. Iconic events such as the World of WearableArt® awards show (WOW), the New Zealand Festival and the International Rugby Sevens are world class and an integral part of our dynamic central city.


City promotions and business support
Ngā whakatairanga tāone me ngā āwhina pakihi

By supporting city promotions and major events, we underscore Wellington’s reputation as a great place to live and visit.


What we do

Wellington’s economic prosperity is closely linked to residents’ quality of life. Prosperity provides the resources for businesses, the Council and individuals to contribute to the vibrancy of the city and invest in its future development.

Our promotions and business support activities are closely linked to Grow Wellington’s work. Working with other institutions in the region ensures that we use our resources effectively. Our activities include:

  • tourism promotions (Positively Wellington Tourism)
  • events attraction and support
  • convention venues (Positively Wellington Venues)
  • retail support (free weekend parking)
  • regional and external relations
  • grants and creative workforce
  • ​Destination Wellington.

What we achieved

We helped establish Business Improvement Districts (BIDS), which are a great way to boost local economies through businesses pooling funds for projects and improvements that complement existing Council services. This year, we helped with the establishment of a BID in Miramar and we are also in the early stages of establishing a possible Khandallah BID.

We developed our international relationships to grow business. In May 2014, the Mayor led a delegation of 30 organisations to China and Japan. The organisations included Gibson Group, Victoria University, ANZ Bank, Computer Power Plus, Carrickmore, The Formary, NZ Post, WelTec, Wellington International Airport Ltd and ACG Yoobee School of Design. Several local secondary schools were also represented in the delegation, which had a significant focus on education.

We funded proposals to create economic growth through the Wellington Economic Initiative Development (WEID) fund, which supports events, initiatives and partnership opportunities. This year was the first year of operation of the fund. The projects we supported included the development of an Innovation Festival for Wellington, a contribution to the Football United Tour in partnership with Welnix, and business start-up and attraction activities.

Destination Wellington attracted business, talent and investment to the region. This is a collaboration between the Council, Positively Wellington Tourism and Grow Wellington that aims to attract business, talent, investment and students to the region.

We supported arts and cultural events that contributed to Wellington’s economy and created jobs. WOW was once again a success with all performances selling out and more than 33,000 people from out of town attending the event. WOW makes a huge economic contribution to Wellington with the last economic impact study estimating economic value of $22.6 million. It also brings jobs to the city in the creative sector. The biannual New Zealand Festival was also held. This is the country’s premier arts festival and it delivered a programme of world-class dance and opera companies, performers, singers, visual artists and theatre groups, which attracted large numbers of people from outside the region to Wellington.

We hosted historic sporting events. It was a summer of cricket with three internationals: T20 NZ v West Indies; ODI; and the test matches between New Zealand and India, with the crowd at the Basin Reserve witnessing Brendon McCullum become the first New Zealander to score a triple century in a test match. We also hosted the FIFA World Cup 2014 Intercontinental Playoff match between the All Whites and Mexico, which was watched by a near capacity crowd of 33,000.

And we won the rights to host future events. Our bids to be a host city for the FIFA U20 World Cup 2015 and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 were successful. We won the right to host a quarter final for the Cricket World Cup ahead of major Australian cities. These events will bring significant visitation and international broadcast exposure to the city in 2015.

What it cost

3.1.1  Tourism Promotion
Expenditure 5,676 5,600 (76) 5,740
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 5,676 5,600 (76) 5,740
3.1.2  Convention venues1
Expenditure 25,201 3,993 (21,208) 17,952
Revenue (21,936) (186) 21,750 (14,659)
Net Expenditure 3,265 3,807 542 3,293
3.1.3  Retail support (free weekend parking)
Expenditure 1,327 1,327 - 1,281
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 1,327 1,327 - 1,281
3.1.4  Grants and creative workforce2
Expenditure 1,201 1,502 301 1,512
Revenue - - - (40)
Net Expenditure 1,201 1,502 301 1,472
3.1.5  Events attraction and support3
Expenditure 4,231 3,752 (479) 4,923
Revenue (193) - 193 (96)
Net Expenditure 4,038 3,752 (286) 4,827
3.1.6  Regional and external relations4
Expenditure 2,664 1,006 (1,658) 643
Revenue (8) - 8 (40)
Net Expenditure 2,656 1,006 (1,650) 603
3.1.7  Destination Wellington
Expenditure 1,843 1,900 57 982
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 1,843 1,900 57 982
3.1.2  Convention venues5
Expenditure 3,551 3,816 265 3,313
Unspent portion
of budget to be
carried forward
n/a 480 - n/a
  1. Under budget due to Wellington Venues Limited achieving an operating surplus.
  2. Under budget due to lower than planned expenditure on marketing activities
  3. Over budget due to the unbudgeted All Whites World Cup qualifier and earlier than budgeted FIFA U20 World Cup expenditure.
  4. Over budget due to investments in economic projects, which were funded via the WEID fund. A total of $3m for WEID was approved by Council after the 2013/14 Annual Plan was finalised and was to be funded out of the 2012/13 audited operating surplus.
  5. Under budget due to delays in renewal works on Positively Wellington Venues facilities.

How we performed

Our investments in economic development have been very successful. We had more people attending events, more visitors coming to Wellington and more money being injected into the local economy.

We measure the success of our investments in promoting the city

International visitors – guest nights

International visitor room nights increased to 686,692 in the year to April 2014, an increase of 2.8%. (target: increase international visitor nights by 1% from 2012/13; 2012/13: 667,760).

Source: Positively Wellington Tourism

Average length of stay – international and domestic visitors

Result: 2.04 nights (target: 2 nights; 2012/13: 2.04; 2011/12: 2.05).

Source: Statistics New Zealand

New Zealand market visitors

Domestic visitor room nights increased by 1.7% to 1,396,402 for the year to April 2014 (target: increase by 2% on previous year; 2012/13: 1,373,613).

Source: Positively Wellington Tourism

Positively Wellington Tourism – partnership funding

The Council’s funding amounted to 50% of total income (target: maintain the Council’s funding at less than 50% of total income; 2012/13: 49%; 2011/12: 48%).

Source: Positively Wellington Tourism

Events/activities held with formal international partnership cities (in Wellington and overseas)

There is no target for this measure.

We understand the reach of events and promotion activities

Wellington venues occupancy

Result: 1,115 hire days (target: increase from previous year; 2012/13: 953).

Source: Positively Wellington Venues

Estimated attendance at WCC supported events

Result: 670,368 (target: 400,000; 2011/12: 549,128).

Source: WCC City Events

This result is above target because some major events were not included in the target. These included the All Whites World Cup qualifier and the Bledisloe Cup match.

We measure the success of our investments in economic development

Residents’ satisfaction (%) with WCC supported events and festivals

Result: 86% (target 95%; 2012/13: 90%).

Source: Residents Monitoring Survey 2014

Events Development Fund – ratio of spend to economic impact

Economic benefits outweighed costs by a ratio of 23:1. (target 20:1; 2012/13: 24:1).

Source: WCC City Events

The proportion of grants funds successfully allocated (through milestones being met)

Result: n/a (target 95%; 2012/13: 100%).

Source: WCC Community Networks

Three grants were funded during 2013/14 but none of the projects are due to report back until 2014/15.

We measure the standard of parking provision

On-street car park turn-over rates (cars per day) – weekdays and weekends