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Justin Lester (born 23 December 1978), a New Zealand businessman and local-government politician, has served as the elected Mayor of Wellington City since the 2016 Wellington mayoral election. Prior to becoming mayor he served as Deputy Mayor of Wellington City from 2013 until 2016 and as a councillor for the Northern Ward from 2010.[1][2]

Justin Lester
Justin Lester 2016 (cropped).jpg
35th Mayor of Wellington City
Assumed office
26 October 2016
DeputyPaul Eagle (2016–2017)
Jill Day (2017–present)
Preceded byCelia Wade-Brown
24th Deputy Mayor of Wellington City
In office
Preceded byIan McKinnon
Succeeded byPaul Eagle
Wellington City Councillor (Northern Ward)
In office
Serving with Helene Ritchie & Malcolm Sparrow
Succeeded byJill Day, Peter Gilberd, Malcolm Sparrow
Personal details
Born (1978-12-23) 23 December 1978 (age 40)
Invercargill, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Alma materUniversity of Otago
Heidelberg University


Early lifeEdit

Lester is from Invercargill, where he lived with his mother and two brothers in a state house.[3][better source needed]

Lester has an LLB and BA (German) from the University of Otago and a Masters of Laws (LLM) from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. [3][4]

Career before politicsEdit

Lester has worked in property and asset management, and in commercial real estate.[4]

He co-founded the salad bar chain Kapai in 2005.[5]

Involvement in local government politicsEdit

During the 2013–2016 triennium, Lester was Deputy Mayor of Wellington City and a councillor for the Northern Ward. He also served as the Chair of the Governance, Finance and Planning Committee, and the Performance Review Committee of the Wellington City Council.[1]

Lester has supported the Wellington City Council's support of the Living Wage campaign.[6] He has criticised the Wellington Chamber of Commerce for signalling that it will take legal action against the Council for extending the living wage to security guards.[7]

Mayor of Wellington CityEdit

In December 2015, Lester announced he was running to be Mayor of Wellington City on a Labour Party ticket in the October 2016 local government elections. He ran on a platform of completing Wellington projects such as the film museum, airport runway extension and a convention centre.[5] The Labour Party planned to run a set of five candidates for Wellington City Council in the 2016 elections.[2]

In March 2016, Lester announced he would be running for mayor on a joint ticket with Labour Party city councillor Paul Eagle, who would be deputy mayor.[8] At his campaign launch in April 2016, he announced further policies and said he would: give first-home builders a $5000 rates rebate, introduce free entry for children under five at council pools, remove the fees businesses pay to have outdoor dining on public land, and address the council's "ingrained sexism" by employing more women in senior roles.[4]

On 8 October 2016, Lester was elected Mayor of Wellington City, following the 2016 Wellington City Council election. Lester received 31,921 votes, former mayor of Porirua Nick Leggett gained 24,697, and former Onslow-Western Councillor Jo Coughlan gained 15,844.

In the 2016–19 triennium, Lester is the portfolio leader for arts and culture, major city projects, and governance, an ex-officio member of all Council committees and subcommittees, and the chair of Council.

In February 2017 Lester announced he was looking to trim council spending by $8m to help pay for his various election promises which included strengthening the city's town hall, developing a new movie museum and convention centre, establishing an emergency reservoir at Prince of Wales park, ensuring a living wage for council employees and directing money to new infrastructure projects to help ease congestion around Wellington's Basin Reserve.[9] Later that month, Lester announced with Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle that the council would build 750 new social housing units and affordable homes in an effort to avoid a "housing crisis".[10]

During his campaign for the mayoralty, Lester promised to significantly boost arts investment. In March 2017, following economic data that showed Wellington was New Zealand's "most creative city", Lester confirmed a $500,000 funding boost to events, access to venues and public art in a bid to keep Wellington's culture scene competitive with Auckland.[11]

Lester has announced he will run for a second term in 2019.[12]

Personal lifeEdit

Lester lives in Johnsonville with his wife Elizabeth and two daughters.[4]

In January 2017 Lester was involved in a serious car crash driving from Makara with his Chief of Staff, Joseph Romanos. All passengers walked away unhurt, but the Wellington City Council vehicle they were travelling in was damaged beyond repair.[13]


  1. ^ a b "Councillor Justin Lester". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b Bootham, Laura (3 December 2015). "Wellington deputy mayor to compete for top job". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "About". Justin for Mayor. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Forbes, Michael (3 April 2016). "Justin Lester launches mayoral campaign promising rates rebates on first homes". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Wellington deputy Justin Lester runs against incumbent Mayor Celia Wade-Brown". The Dominion Post. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Living Wage Endorsed for Capital". Wellington City Council. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  7. ^ Devlin, Collette; Forbes, Michael (6 November 2015). "Wellington City Council will have to defend its living wage policy in court". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  8. ^ McConnell, Rhiannon (1 March 2016). "Justin Lester and Paul Eagle announce joint ticket for Wellington mayoralty". The Wellingtonian. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  9. ^ George, Damian (1 February 2017). "Wellington Mayor Justin Lester directs council to save ratepayers $8 million". The Dominion Post. Wellington. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  10. ^ Jolliff, Emma (23 February 2017). "Wellington council to build 750 social and affordable homes".
  11. ^ Devlin, Collette (24 March 2017). "Wellington is New Zealand's most creative city and set to get $500k boost for arts".
  12. ^ "Wellington Mayor Justin Lester eyes second term in 2019 election". 18 November 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  13. ^ Nicoll, Jared (27 January 2017). "Wellington Mayor Justin Lester has lucky escape in City Council car after head-on crash against truck on windy road". The Dominion Post. Wellington. Retrieved 3 February 2017.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Celia Wade-Brown
Mayor of Wellington
Preceded by
Ian McKinnon
Deputy Mayor of Wellington
Succeeded by
Paul Eagle