During the Pūroro Āmua – Planning and Environment Committee held on Thursday, Wellington City Councillors have voted to progress the proposal for a Fale Malae to be constructed on Frank Kitts Park land. This includes agreement to demolish the car parking building which is the preferred site for the Fale.
The project for the original plan to house the Fale at Bunny Street near Parliament was scrapped due to various issues and cost. There is no design yet for the proposed building, but councillors were told it would be smaller than the previous Bunny Street proposal.
Councillors shared their reasons for and against the proposal. Some agreed that the Fale was significant and important for Wellington. It was noted that there was no meeting space for the Pasifika community and that the centre could curb the increase of anti social activities. Four councillors opposed the proposal including Nicola Young who says while the Fale is a great idea, the location was not.
Adding to the concerns, former Deputy Mayor of Wellington Helene Ritchie penned an open letter highlighting the loss of green open space on the waterfront. She says while she agrees the Fale Malae is a great idea, it needs to be built somewhere else. In the letter she mentions that in 2018 the Environment Court issued a resource consent for the proposed redevelopment of Frank Kitts Park, including plans for a redeveloped Children’s Playground, a Chinese Garden, and a minor upgrade of the balance of the park. She points out this does not include a new building.
Mayor Andy Foster says the Fale Malae proposal was “a magical concept, with the potential to be a great meeting place.” He said “we should be in boots and all,” but accepted that the proposal was “challenging because of the location.” Frank Kitts Park land is designated public open space in the Waterfront Framework.
Officers will prepare a development plan and report back to council before June 30 2022. If the proposal is approved, compensatory open green space will be created elsewhere in the central city.
Image credit: Victoria University Artist Impression of previous design