24 Mar 2012

Working group proposes Zealandia merger

9:40 am on 24 March 2012

A report has recommended merging Wellington's Zealandia wildlife sanctuary with the capital's zoo and botanical gardens in a bid to solve its ongoing funding problems.

The recommendation has been made by the Zealandia Working Group, set up after the sanctuary asked for $2.8 million from the council over the next three years to make up for lower than expected visitor numbers.

Of four options, it prefers a grouping of of the sanctuary, Wellington Zoo, the Botanical Gardens and Otari-Wilton's Bush under a single council-controlled organisation.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, a member of the working group, says the merger should save more than half a million dollars a year in areas such as administration and marketing.

Wellington City Councillor John Morrison, who has been critical of the funding and management of Zealandia, is positive about the idea.

"We just can't keep on throwing ratepayer money into a bottomless pit, which is what we've been doing.

"Any change from the present is good news."

The council will decide in June whether to adopt the recommendation.