Manukau as the Second CBD of Auckland

Can Auckland Support TWO CBD’s


The Existing CBD and Manukau City Centre



The Civic Forum on The Unitary Plan held at the old Manukau City Council – council chambers last Saturday discussed the proposed business zones in the Unitary Plan. You can read my full previous post on Business Zones from my previous THE CLUNKER AND BUSINESS ZONES commentary. Two things that did come up that I am going to specifically comment on today were:

  1. Does the Business Zones (specifically the Metropolitan Zones) mean anything to you or are they actually arbitrary names with no meaning what so ever
  2. Can Auckland support two CBDs like the Sydney CBD/Parramatta example from our Australian cousins. If Auckland were to follow this concept, we would have Auckland City Centre (the existing CBD) and Manukau City (Centre) (it is already named and deemed a city centre in most geographical cases).

Just a quick note on Manukau from Wikipedia:

Manukau is a metropolitan centre of AucklandNew Zealand. The suburb is located 23 kilometres south of Auckland CBD, and is in the Manukau ward, one of the thirteen electoral divisions of the Auckland Council.

The name Manukau, from the Manukau Harbour west of the city, is of Māori origin, and means ‘wading birds’,[citation needed] although it has been suggested that the name of the harbour was also sometimes rendered as Mānuka, meaning a marker post with which an early chief is said to have claimed the area.[1]

Manukau was governed by the Manukau City Council until November 2010, when the entire Auckland region was amalgamated into a single Auckland council. The area still has a strong economic central business district, known as Manukau city centre, but is no longer an independent city. The area is now governed by the Auckland Council. The area immediately to the south of the Otahuhu isthmus, as far east as Maraetai and Kawakawa Bay including Howick and Clevedon, and as far south as Manurewa, was previously known as Manukau City, however it should not be confused with the suburb of Manukau. All former suburbs of Manukau City are now governed by the Auckland Council.


In this case for the purpose of this post I am referring to that “strong economic central business district, known as Manukau city centre.”


To provide further clarification on the Manukau City Centre you can see this map below, although I do note it is a rough approximate and I might have incorporated the “flanks” of the Manukau City Centre that are actually part of the Manukau suburb.

Manukau City Centre Area
Manukau City Centre Area








To also provide clarification in to my logic behind this I am going to paste below the Draft Unitary Plan definitions of a City Centre Zone, a Metropolitan Zone and a Town Centre Zone; as well as some extracts on Parramatta, Australia.


From The Unitary Plan and my previous commentary on Business Zones:


City Centre zone – Zone description
The city centre is the top of the centres hierarchy and plays a pivotal role in Auckland’s present and future success. The zone seeks to ensure the city centre is an international centre for business and learning, innovation, entertainment, culture and urban living. To improve the vibe of the city centre environment, the zone permits a wide range of activities to establish in most parts of the city centre. The zone also manages activities that have the potential to adversely affect the amenity of the city centre. The Unitary Plan enables the greatest level of development in terms of height and floor area to occur in the city centre. Within the city centre itself, development potential is concentrated in the core central business district. Development potential reduces towards the ridgeline and transitions to lower heights on the waterfront and landward periphery.

The zone manages the scale of development in order to protect important historic heritage places, sunlight admission to parks and public spaces, and significant views to the volcanic cones and other landmarks. The significant height and scale of buildings in the city centre increases their visibility from many places, affecting the quality of both public and private views at local and citywide scales. In addition to managing the scale of development, the zone manages the quality of building design to ensure new buildings successfully integrate with the city centre’s existing built form and public realm to create an attractive and recognisable skyline. The city centre makes an important contribution to our sense of identity. Within the city centre are precincts and overlays, which have their own distinct features and character. Precincts and overlays may have additional management provisions.

Metropolitan Centre zone – Zone description
This zone applies to centres located in different subregional catchments of Auckland. The centres are second only to the city centre in overall scale and intensity and act as hubs for high frequency transport within their catchments. The zone provides for a wide range of activities including commercial, leisure, high density residential, tourist, cultural, community and civic services. Zone provisions, in conjunction with rules in the other business zones, reinforce metropolitan centres as locations for all scales of commercial activity. Precincts and overlays, which modify the underlying zone or have additional provisions, apply to some of the metropolitan centres.

Generally, however, to support an intense level of development, the zone allows for high-rise buildings. Some street frontages within the zone are subject to a Key Retail Frontage or General Commercial Frontage overlay. Key retail streets are the focal point of pedestrian activity within the centre. General commercial streets play a supporting role. Development fronting these streets is expected to reinforce this function. Rules for the overlay are incorporated in the zone rules. New development within the zone requires resource consent in order to ensure that it is designed to a high standard which enhances the quality of the centre’s public realm.

Town Centre zone – Zone description
This zone applies to suburban centres throughout Auckland, the satellite centres of Warkworth and Pukekohe, and the rural town of Helensville. The centres are typically located on main arterial roads, which provide good public transport access. The zone provides for a wide range of activities including commercial, leisure, residential, tourist, cultural, community and civic services. Provisions enable buildings between four to eight storeys high, depending on the characteristics of the centre. Increased height within the centres will facilitate increased office and residential living opportunities at upper floors. Some street frontages within the zone are subject to a Key Retail or General Commercial overlay. Key retail streets are the focal point of pedestrian activity within the centre. General commercial streets play a supporting role. Development fronting these streets is expected to reinforce this function. Rules for the overlay are incorporated in the zone rules. New development within the zone requires resource consent in order to ensure that it is designed to a high standard which enhances the quality of the centre’s streets and public open spaces.


In regards to Parramatta, Sydney, Australia; both from Wikipedia


Parramatta (pron.: /ˌpærəˈmætə/) is a suburb of SydneyNew South WalesAustralia.[3][10][11] It is located in Greater Western Sydney 23 kilometres (14 mi) west of the Sydney central business district on the banks of the Parramatta River. Parramatta is the administrative seat of the local government area of the City of Parramatta. Part of the suburb is shared with the City of Holroyd LGA.[2][3][4]

Parramatta, founded in the same year as Sydney by the British in 1788, is the oldest inland European settlement in Australia and is the economic capital of Greater Western Sydney and the sixth largest central business district in Australia.[12] Since 2000, Parramatta has seen the consolidation of its role as a government centre with the relocation of agencies such as the New South Wales Police Force headquarters and Sydney Water,[13] from the Sydney CBD. Simultaneously, major upgrades have occurred around the railway station with the expansion of Westfield Parramatta, the creation of a new transport interchange, and the ongoing development of the Parramatta Square local government precinct.

Commercial area

Skyline of Parramatta

Parramatta is a major business and commercial centre, sometimes called Sydney’s “second central business district”. Parramatta has many high density commercial and residential developments. It is home to Westfield Parramatta, which is thefifth largest shopping centre in Australia by gross leasable area.[27] Church Street is home to many shops and restaurants. The northern end of Church Street, close to Lennox Bridge, features al fresco dining with a diverse range of cuisines. The southern end of Church Street features many Chinese restaurants and extends past Westfield to ‘Auto Alley’, named for the prevalence of car dealerships.

Immediately south of the CBD Church Street is known across Sydney as Auto Alley for the many car dealerships lining both sides of the street as far as the M4 Motorway.[28]



City of Parramatta


The City of Parramatta is a local government area in the western region of Sydney, situated on the Cumberland Plain, approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of the Sydney central business district, in the state of New South Wales,Australia.

The City occupies an area of 61 square kilometres (24 sq mi) and is the eleventh most populous (166,858 as the 2011 Census) local government area in New South Wales, and the twenty–third most populous local government area in Australia. The City houses the Parramatta central business district, the second largest employment destination for the metropolitan area after the Sydney CBD.

The area was formed in 1861 as the Municipality of Parramatta and became The Borough of Parramatta in 1867, eventually becoming the City of Parramatta in 1938. In 1948 Ermington-Rydalmere, Dundas, Granville and Parramatta councils were amalgamated.

The Lord Mayor of the City of Parramatta is Cr. John Chedid, a member of the Liberal Party.




Upon looking at this; it seems Auckland might head down the very same path as Sydney with a large sprawling metropolis and two functioning CBD districts. Sydney has; Sydney CBD and Parramatta, while Auckland has; Auckland CBD and Manukau.


How I see it in terms of: “Does the Business Zones (specifically the Metropolitan Zones) mean anything to you or are they actually arbitrary names with no meaning what so ever”


To me the Metropolitan Zone is a redundant term as the ten current places placed in that zone in the Draft Unitary Plan and the operative Auckland Plan (Page 261) – they are:

  • Albany
  • Botany
  • Henderson
  • Manukau
  • New Lynn
  • Newmarket
  • Papakura
  • Sylvia Park
  • Takapuna
  • Westgate/Massey North

Now apart from maybe Newmarket, Westgate/Massey North (this is depending on the extent of Greenfields growth in the north-west), New Lynn (although smaller), and of course Manukau; the rest of the places listed here are nothing more than glorified Town Centres and should be treated as such. In my opinion we have a mix up between what an actual town centre is and what a local centre is (both are in the Auckland and Unitary Plans) and extensive reworking needs to be done there.

But if I look to the strict definition of a Metropolitan Zone and a Town Centre Zone; Newmarket, New Lynn and possibly Westgate/Massey North would be suitable and have the best potential for 18 storey tower development over the next 30-years and fulfil its purpose that it was zoned for. The North Shore lot I have left out as I need to take another look at them closely but if I had to place a so called Metropolitan Zone on the Unitary Map then maybe Albany. But in saying that Albany would not become a true Metropolitan Centre for at least 25 years, so for now it is just a glorified Town Centre.

With Manukau I do not believe it is a Metropolitan Zone at all. But is not a glorified Town Centre like the others above mentioned neither with Manukau’s strong economic, cultural, and education virtues already in position. Something the other places apart from Newmarket do not currently have at a critical mass level (to make the centre viable) nor will have for at least 20 years.


Manukau with its extremely close proximity (even more close than the existing CBD apart from the Port of Auckland) to transport routes (road, motorways, rail, airport, Wiri Inland Port – belonging to Port of Auckland, bus routes, logistic centres), industry, flanking commercial enterprises (retail and office), population centres (South and Counties Auckland), education hubs (AUT and MIT), and civic institutions (IRD and ACC have offices either within Manukau City Centre or just on its flanks), and already pre-established strong activity in all the previous mentioned is prime for massive expansion and upgrading to easily rival the Auckland CBD. Those looking to build A-Grade space right on a pre-established medium to high density city centre that is fully linked, but no pay existing CBD A-grade prices would see Manukau as a perfect enterprise opportunity. Heck with the airport only 15 minutes away (compared to at least 30 mins from Downtown Auckland) and future rail lines to the airport making the trip even faster (Manukau to Airport?) and capable of some stunning views of Auckland (only need to go 5 storeys up to start getting views) I can see the potential in Manukau truly strengthening its economic credentials.


With all this enthusiasm and potential for Manukau, the question is can it act as our (Auckland’s) second CBD or core?


It brings me to this question: “Can Auckland support two CBDs like the Sydney CBD/Parramatta example from our Australian cousins. If Auckland were to follow this concept, we would have Auckland City Centre (the existing CBD) and Manukau City (Centre) (it is already named and deemed a city centre in most geographical cases)”


That question has already been answered as Auckland has been supporting twin CBDs since 1989 – when Manukau City development really took off. And I can not see why Auckland can not support two City Centre Zones (Auckland CBD and Manukau City Centre) now. Manukau City Centre serves as the primary service hub and central business district for all of Southern Auckland (from Otahuhu south) whether it be other businesses or industry, or the residents. Those in Southern Auckland might often more readily identify Manukau City Centre as their “centre (of business (whether it be retail, employment or saying pay the bills)” while downtown Auckland is virtually a tourist attraction to take the family to (rather than do business). Manukau as a city centre is also more flexible and adaptable to those it mainly serves – Southern Auckland due to extremely close proximity. More response than the existing CBD either could be.

I personally see Manukau (I live in Papakura) as my central business district where I conduct my business that my local centre might not provide such as: more retail choices, alternative places like Bunnings for hardware, eating and meeting places (this includes movies), and with my new enterprise under way – a place of business-business. Auckland CBD is a place where I go to if I have to deal with Town Hall (which is frequent as it is) or as a tourist attract (which I tend to avoid anyway). And I do see Manukau as more adaptable to serving my ever-changing needs – more so than the existing CBD (this is being emphasised in me setting up an enterprise and soon to take on employees and contractors).


Manukau if it were to be upgraded from a Metropolitan Zone (which is redundant any how – so it needs a rework – and has too many in that category if the name were to stick) to a fully fledged City Centre Zone like the existing CBD, then Auckland will follow the same path as Sydney CBD and Parramatta as twin urban city centre cores. Ironically Sydney CBD and Parramatta while they would compete as dual CBD’s, they would also complement each other in an economic and cultural sense as well – as both serve needs of their “clients.” This competition yet complementation approach with Auckland City Centre and Manukau City Centre would work in a similar manner to Sydney CBD and Parramatta; if someone had the vision and guts to see this through.


I will be submitting in my feedback to the Draft Unitary Plan what I stated in my submission to the Auckland Plan but , with a few additions two basic things:

  1. The Business Zones especially the now: Metropolitan, Town and Local Centres need to be reworked as they are mostly meaningless with existing centres in the respective zones also needing to be re-categorised. 
  2. Manukau be upgraded to a fully fledged City Centre Zone like the Auckland CBD and treated as such. Manukau is already a second CBD and core of Auckland, lets formalise that and allow the Manukau City Centre to operate to its maximum potential and better serve Southern Auckland, its people, and its enterprises!



Manukau City Centre  as an actual City Centre – because it is part of the puzzle for a Better Auckland



Shining The Light – To a Better Papakura (OUR home)
To a Better Auckland – (OUR City)

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL

5 thoughts on “Manukau as the Second CBD of Auckland

  1. The other thing I’ve notice Ben is that, for 6km along Te Irirangi Rd, between Manukau City Centre and Boatany it is all zoned as Mixed Housing. One day this will be an important PT route. Surely over the length of the road there should be a terrace housing zone somewhere in the middle near Ormiston Rd?

    1. If it’s ok to rezone residential, why have we not started rezoning industrial? Take the stations on the rail network for a start, draw a 1km circle around each and then start from there. Do the same with the Northern Busway and then do the same on the NW, keeping in mind the eventual busway that will happen.

      1. I am starting to focus on business zones now with residential zones done to death from my end. I have a three tier commercial and three tier industrial zoning alternative that I am submitting on and will go to some extent in what you are suggesting their Bryce

    2. I think the reason why they have not gone for a higher density along Te Irirangi Drive yet because as you pointed to in part – the P/T. IF we got a commitment from AT on the Botany Line (even if it is built 2032) then sure I can see Terrace Housing and Apartments working. Will have a look at this though. My Manukau upgrade has opened a nice can of worms in Council (they have cottoned on to it) and if Manukau does get the upgrade, we might see an entire game changer and massive reworking of plans needed for Southern Auckland including Botany

  2. I’m not sure what the CBD zone would actually mean. The hight limit in Manukau determined by flight paths, so still need strong height limits. The CBD is split into 6(?) distinct precincts, so adding Manukau to this one would be bizzare. The metropolitan centre zones allow which ever centre is popular to come forward as another major centre. Clearly Papakura will not happen for 20 years, and maybe 10 plus for Westgate and Botany. The urban design of Manukau is also shocking and is a looong way of any sort of city centre feel. Like most people comofrtable walking 1km plus (ie Britomart to Aotea) in any weather down Queen St, but not in Manukau! Similar length walk is Supa Centre to GS Road, how many people do that on a nice day! Please don’t think I’m bagging Manukau too much, it has much better bones than Botany or Albany, but think it is far from CBD, and will need a prolonged action plan outisde the Unitary Plan for this happen.

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