Wellington is the national capital of New Zealand. Much like Washington, it is often derided by the kiwis as being full of bureaucrats. Also like Washington, it shows many signs of spending of public money to beautify and impress the taxpayers. Wellington is no Washington, however.
New Zealand government seems to be pretty responsive to their constituents and they are able to effect changes quickly. Taxes are not bad and public services are well maintained. This with a small population spread out over a fairly large land area separated by water and isolated in the world.
Wellington is a very attractive city but not just because of its public works. The natural setting is a protected harbor with high surrounding hills. The city is mostly modern architecture with lovely older homes on the surrounding hillsides. A cable car will take you up the hill behind the city for a breathtaking view of the city and port. From the top you may take a downhill walk through public gardens depositing you back in downtown near the seat of government.
The public art is a mixture of Maori traditional and modern art. The silver fern globe in the pedestrian square appears to be suspended in space. It isn't just a photographic trick. The wires supporting the globe are so thin we couldn't see them until we were very close. We were really impressed.
The national assembly is known as the Beehive. It was an aberration of '60s architecture. It is about the only ugly building in Wellington.
Public art is found all over Wellington and it covers a wide spectrum. Traditional works will often share space with modern pieces and Maori works. They are usually blended well and we enjoyed our walking tour of the waterfront and downtown area.
The national museum is the Te Papa. It is not exactly the Smithsonian but is quite an accomplishment for a country of 3.6 million. It was very new when we toured and it will mature and improve over time but it already had complete sections covering the Maori and settlers and also displays of modern art mostly from New Zealand artists. It is free.