Save Kate – from who?

by Guest on September 18, 2015

Walking my daughter to school on Tuesday morning, I was handed a flyer on Lambton Quay – “Keep Kate!”.

As kind of a fan of the Kate Sheppard traffic lights, I took the flyer – and saw that they “were under threat of removal” with a link to a petition. I’d sign that!

But turning it over, the flyer was an advertisement for Wellington City Councillor Nicola Young.  My first thought: smart politics, Nicola, aligning yourself with such a simple, popular, liberal cause.

My second thought: she just wants our names and email addresses for her mayoral campaign mailing list. Eww. Cynical use of an issue for a clearly political purpose, I thought.

So, despite not being legit twitterati – in fact I’m a bit of a newbie and seldom tweet – I posted

“In my view, not kosher for @nmjyoung to use Kate Sheppard to build her mayoral campaign contact list”

It seemed strange to me, being well-connected in Wellington campaign-y circles, that if the lights were under threat that none of the local or Wellington women’s groups were fighting for their retention.

So my third thoughts were: are these lights actually under threat of removal?

I got on the phone to NZTA and rang media spokesperson Andy Knackstedt, asking him what was the story behind the Kate Sheppard lights. He actually laughed at the suggestion that they were under threat – said that this was not the case, and extending the initial trial was basically just a compliance issue, a matter of paperwork between Wellington City Council and NZTA.

I tweeted again:

“Just rang Andy Knackstedt from NZTA. Kate Sheppard lights are not under threat and never have been @nmjyoung

Friends of mine and Twitter and Facebook then got active discouraging people from signing the petition  – that it was a ruse, that the lights were never at risk, and our data was being mined by Nicola Young for no real purpose. Nicola’s responses were mainly through a “KeepKate” twitter account, and used vaguer and vaguer language about whether the lights were actually at risk. Now, we were apparently just demonstrating to NZTA how popular they are!

NZTA then confirmed on Twitter  that they had no plans to remove the lights and that they were working with WCC on approvals. So I tweeted this image to show how Nicola Young was misleading Wellington with her sham petition


I know lots of people who try to be active and engaged in our community in Wellington city. I’m one of them. We place a level of trust in the organisations and individuals who solicit our support when we sign petitions or take other action for change.

Nicola Young, as an elected official, abused this trust by lying to Wellingtonians with her flyer and petition. We didn’t need to do a thing to keep Kate – she was staying anyway. Nicola Young just wanted to build her profile as a councillor and get our details for her campaigning mailing list.

She wasn’t fighting for our interest. She underestimated Wellingtonians – that we wouldn’t check the basic facts of her supposed campaign. I hope she’s learned not to do that again.

Guest post by Rebecca Matthews 

Sarah September 18, 2015 at 1:07 pm

I think you’ve been sucked in by the anti-Nicola bandwagon. I had a look into this too and spoke to a friend at the Council. Celia had been really slow in responding to NZTA and the petition put a rocket up her. That’s smart politics, I’d say.

Rebecca September 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm

I haven’t been sucked in by anything. The trial was due to run till 31 Dec and there was no urgency to the joint approvals process – both parties assumed that the trial would continue as there was no reason for it not to. Lying to people to get them to sign your petition (and hand over their details for your mailing list) is more dirty politics than smart politics, if you asked me.

Sue Tyler September 18, 2015 at 2:04 pm

if that’s true why wasn’t that made clear by nicola?
for example what was the timeline when did NZTA contact council and by when did they require an answer?

31 december is over 3 months away and since Nicola in her own press release confirmed it was a “simple stencil change” that cost $3 I have to wonder if all the facts were given to you by your friend at the council.

Sarah September 18, 2015 at 4:32 pm

There’s been an official request for all correspondence between WCC and NZTA, which should shed light on how hard Celia and Foster were pushing NZTA to secure the exemption. I suspect that’ll bring some clarity.

Giovanni Tiso September 18, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Interesting. By whom?

Sarah September 18, 2015 at 1:26 pm

We’ll have to agree to disagree – but the senior council officer I spoke to was adamant the retention of the lights was being stalled by Celia’s inaction – and they were delighted with the campaign for giving the Mayor a bloody good rev. Anyway – we obviously won’t agree but there are definitely two sides to the story.

Stephanie September 18, 2015 at 1:57 pm

So why didn’t Nicola Young – who just happens to hold the Transport portfolio on council – drum up a petition against Celia Wade-Brown then? Surely she’s in the perfect position to get things moving, but instead chose to mislead Wellingtonians in order to gather their personal information for future communications. I don’t really care what the “other side of the story” is, it’s dodgy af.

Matt September 18, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Andy Foster leads transport. Nicola Young is CBD projects.

Stephanie September 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm

You’re right, and WCC’s website could probably be clearer, but doesn’t having responsibility for CBD projects make this even *more* Nicola Young’s area of influence? Given the lights are, you know, in the CBD?

Matt September 19, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Alas… all things NZTA-related are Foster’s domain, along with the political leadership – CWB and JL bear overall responsibility.

Sue Tyler September 20, 2015 at 12:39 am

Matt do you think you might consider making it clear to our readers what your relationship is to both Nicola Young, the KeepKate Campaign and website?

Or do you like operating from the shadows, only replying to the comments where you believe you can score political points?

I am referring to this link shared by Giovanni Tiso

Matt September 20, 2015 at 12:48 am

I’m not sure how pointing out portfolio responsibilities is ‘scoring political points’…?

We’re all in the shadows Sue. Who are you?

Sue Tyler September 20, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Matt you can see who i am by clicking on my icon. Also i post with my full name

Still haven’t ansewered any questions have you

Matt September 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm

I suspect that’s why she launched the campaign – and why council officers were delighted with her petition… Don’t forget that until Wednesday nothing had been said about the Kate Sheppard lights future. If you’re anti-Nicola then of course this is an evil email trawling scam. But equally you should be open to the idea that action was needed, and that the petition embarrassed Celia, Lester and NZTA into action.

Sue Tyler September 18, 2015 at 4:22 pm

interested as to how commentary has gone from ‘friend at the council’ to a ‘senior council officer’, to ‘ council officers’

I’m also deeply concerned that WCC Councillors think starting petitions is the only way to achieve anything.

Matt September 19, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Yup, unfortunately that’s how dysfunctional CWB’s rule has become.

Sue Tyler September 20, 2015 at 12:44 am

Matt, how do you explain this tweet By Celia Wade Brown? Which would indicate the complete opposite of your allegations?

Matt September 20, 2015 at 12:51 am

Note the last three words – things weren’t moving on getting the lights made permanent. Petition launched – they’re moving now. Thanks for being part of the push to #KeepKate.

Sue Tyler September 20, 2015 at 5:27 pm

the last 3 words are” Not my delay!!!”
so how does this imply disfunction by the mayor?

Also not a part of the push to Keep Kate, it’s a farce aimed only at scoring point not getting work done. NZ is not America you do not need to start campaigning for mayor 12 months ahead of an election, If councillors focused on work instead of stupid tricks more things might get done

Matt September 18, 2015 at 2:36 pm

(And judging from earlier comments from WCC officials it might be that Nicola had a valid point with her petition…)

tom September 18, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Well I got suckered into signing this..

It just seemed like exactly the kill-joy kinda thing that NZTA might do. Like the red-LED catseyes reflectors thingees they trailed on the pedestrian crossing over Jervois Key to Queens Wharf. The ones that were a huge success at stopping people getting run over, but they pulled out “as people might get confused and expect them at all traffic lights..”

I got forwarded the petition and half-asleep on the bus I signed it. (Slightly smug after jumping on the RedPeak petition early – I signed it)

Then I get an email from Nicola Young. WTF? I hit the “To stop receiving updates on this page, unfollow here” link.
It doesn’t work.
Great. She wasn’t getting my vote anyway 😐

Rich September 18, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Dodgy as, just as you’d expect from the Wellington Council righties. Compliance paperwork shouldn’t need councillors to chase, anyway.

This is a breach of information privacy principles, on the face of it:

If you feel you were conned into giving Nicola Young your email, you can complain here:

(That’s the Privacy Commissioner’s website – unlike some people, they aren’t running for office and making a mailing list)

Giovanni Tiso September 18, 2015 at 5:50 pm

“I suspect that’s why she launched the campaign – and why council officers were delighted with her petition…”

This is a funny comment given the author is actually Matthew Plummer (as confirmed here:, whose name the Keep Kate campaign website is registered under. I think you have a pretty good idea why the councillor – aka your mother – launched the campaign, given you obviously helped her run it. It would have been decent of you to declare your interest here, n’est c’est pas?

Joel September 19, 2015 at 10:50 am


PJ September 18, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Check out his Twitter timeline for a taste of what a Nicola Young mayoralty brings to Wgtn

Lisa September 18, 2015 at 8:05 pm

It’s ‘from whom’, not ‘from who’.

Damian Christie September 19, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Exactly. As in “People for whom correcting grammar on blogs seems like a good use of time, really need to get a life.”

Lisa September 20, 2015 at 1:05 pm

You just made my day. I love the punctuation too!

Joanna September 20, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Hi Matt, you can find out more about Sue – and any of the rest of the Wellingtonista – on our about page. We have nothing against supporting mothers – in fact, I do it all the time on this site – but when you’re Nicola Young’s son AND the person who registered the Keep Kate site domain, it seems a little disingenuous not to mention that in your comments in this area.

Giovanni Tiso September 20, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Doubly hilarious, given that Sue and Rebecca both posted using their name and surname.

Sue Tyler September 20, 2015 at 5:00 pm

you can also click on my icon for more information

still waiting on ansers to those questions matt

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