Enthusiasm

My Wellington: blown away by enthusiasm and passion

Finn Lawrence, co-founder and product manager at Mevo, says Oriental Bay is one of the best places to swim.

KEVIN STENT / Stuff

Finn Lawrence, co-founder and product manager at Mevo, says Oriental Bay is one of the best places to swim.

Wellington-based car-sharing company Mevo has been changing the way people get around since 2016. It pioneered the use of electric vehicles and one-way journeys – and it recently added Teslas to its fleet. Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Finn Lawrence explains what Wellington means to him.

What does it mean to be a Wellingtonian?

To be a Wellingtonian is to be engaged; with the city, the communities you are part of and with everything you do. I remember so distinctly when I moved here from Christchurch about 10 years ago that I was blown away by the enthusiasm and passion of everyone I met. This kind of energy is contagious – in a good way!

I live here because…

I love cities and I love New Zealand – and Wellington is the best city we have! I moved to Wellington in 2010, after a difficult few years living in Christchurch, and it was such a breath of fresh air. Over a decade later, I’m still finding new parts of Wellington to explore and enjoy, alongside old favourites.

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Where is the best place to swim?

You can’t go wrong with the greatest hits – Oriental and Scorching Bay would top the list. Since my working hours tend to be flexible, it’s easy to get there at quiet times when the weather is nice. In the summer, I don’t think you can walk past a good AirBnB with a pool in the Wairarapa, after lunch at a winery.

Orient Bay

Monique Ford / Stuff

Orient Bay

Where is your favorite place to see art?

I tend to stay through the rotating exhibits at Te Papa, City Gallery and Thistle Hall – all of which are a short walk from my apartment. The Lighthouse Cuba cinema is probably my busiest. One of the things I love about art in Wellington is that it’s never far away; whether it’s a new mural or a pop-up gallery, or finding some truly amazing art collections somewhere you might not expect them, like in a coworking space.

What is the best festival in town?

For me, it’s CubaDupa, hands down. We can see two of the stages (Glover Park and Swan Lane) from my apartment balcony, and it’s always a good weekend to be able to go downstairs and be right in the thick of it.

Mevo co-founder Finn Lawrence says the city is "a breath of fresh air".

Provided

Mevo co-founder Finn Lawrence says the city is “a breath of fresh air”.

What’s your ideal night out in Wellington?

Depends on who I’m with, but usually a nice long dinner somewhere with good wine, like Shepherd or Loretta. Usually an after-dinner drink (Golding’s, Hawthorne Lounge) or ice cream (Duck Island, Kaffee Eis) completes the evening well.

The perfect Saturday morning in town is…

Cold brew and a Customs donut, followed by a stop at Moore Wilson for orange juice and a box of groceries. Then head for brunch or take a stroll along the waterfront if the weather is nice.

My guilty pleasure in town is going to…

Best ugly bagels on Swan Lane – salmon bagel and iced maple coffee is a winning combo. I had to limit myself to once a week!

For Finn Lawrence, the salmon bagel and iced maple coffee are “a winning combo”.

Monique Ford / Stuff

For Finn Lawrence, the salmon bagel and iced maple coffee are “a winning combo”.

What part of town are you most comfortable in?

Te Aro, centered on Cuba Street. I’ve lived in the same apartment for over six years (right next to Cuba) and our offices are around the corner. It’s great right now to see a lot of new apartment buildings and townhouses coming into this part of town.

Not many people know about Wellington but…

Much of the electricity for our lights and appliances is renewable-generated just across the hill at West Wind Park. There is a large recreation area a short drive from the CBD, through Karori to Mākara. In good weather, it’s an unbeatable spot for a hike or a picnic, and the more than 60 huge turbines are always a magnificent sight.

What is Wellington’s best feature?

How compact its parts are – this was sort of forced by geography (hills on one side, water on the other) but it allows Wellington to keep building instead of going out and developing transport in common more numerous and of better quality. In many places in New Zealand you have to drive half an hour to get anywhere – most of Wellington is within half an hour walk/city bus.

JERICHO ROCK-ARCHER/Stuff

Reinventing Wellington: If you were mayor for a day, what would you do? What is one thing that would make your life better in the Wellington area? What do you like about the Wellington area? What is missing ?

What is your greatest hope for this city?

That we build better-designed urban infrastructure for mixed residential and commercial use, and more density in our housing. We need fewer parking lots and parking buildings, and more shared and community spaces. Wellington might be more of a tech hub than it is, but we continue to invest all our money in the housing market instead of funding companies and start-ups. In the tech industry, every city competes in a global context, so we have a lot to do when it comes to transportation, housing, and urban development.