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Idealog’s Guide to Wellington: Home of the brave

In the brilliant Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Designillustrator Christoph Niemann talks about his need to escape the overly commercial environment of New York and get his creative mojo back in Berlin. There, he thought differently and was inspired by all of the other creative folk who, in stark contrast to his time in the US, often seemed to be doing amazing things for little or no commercial gain. And I’ve always thought of Wellington as New Zealand’s Berlin. 

Quite a few visiting foreigners I’ve talked to have been shocked at New Zealand’s lack of willingness to share knowledge. In their eyes, we hold on too tightly to our ideas for too long and that means those ideas don’t reach their full potential. Judging from the stories of these clever Wellingtonians in this series – and based on one year living there while I studied journalism at Massey – that doesn’t seem to be the case in the capital. As a good friend said when I asked him what he loved most about living in the city: “It’s the cool local interactions that we enjoy – connecting public, private, professional, academic, tinkering hobbyists and pro-bono workers. There is an excitement and stimulation from meeting new people who are perfectly positioned and willing to help make new things happen.”

Creativity is all about connections. And connections are what ecosystems are built on. Those connections are why Silicon Valley is now a global technology powerhouse (and why Steve Jobs wanted just one toilet block at Apple so that everyone would bump into each other and start talking). Whether it’s the compact nature of the city, the occasional ‘inside weather’ forcing people together, or the unique market conditions and cultural heritage, those connections seem to happen more easily in Wellington.  

Ben Fahy, publisher/editorial director

Wellington is taking ownership of its future as it strives to become the most liveable, vibrant and prosperous city in Australasia by 2025. It is an ambitious goal that drives everything we do at the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA).

WREDA can’t do it alone but the good news is we don’t have to. It is crammed full of smart people with nearly half the workforce engaged in knowledge-intensive industries. It is the people of this great region who are leading us into a highly promising future.

This year, the Wellington Movie Museum and Convention Centre and a Civic Music Hub are taking big steps forward. Both these investments will showcase Wellington’s innovation, collaboration and creative edge and add further vibrancy to the region.

The city is also known for being tech-savvy and startup focused. Creative HQ, a subsidiary of WREDA, runs more accelerator programmes than any other place in the South Pacific. Then there is the tremendous work being done by the likes of shared working space BizDojo and Te Papa’s Mahuki Innovation Hub, an accelerator programme for companies in the cultural sector.

The region is also thriving with award-winning craft beers, hi-tech manufacturing in areas as diverse as paint and navigation aids, and scores of other businesses all making a positive contribution to our economy.

In this series, I’m sure you’ll see why Wellington has been labelled the Capital of Opportunity.

Chris Whelan, chief executive

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