Population Trends

Auckland is Growing Folks


[Note from Admin: Post updated to reflect Dr Blakeley’s answers to questions raised stemming from the Auckland Conversation presentation last week]


On Wednesday I attended the Council sponsored ‘Auckland Conversations’ that was on Population Trends. Okay sure I got an “invite” as someone from Council thought I was “media.” Was honestly slightly comical for a moment but I went along and will be attending the next one when the Brisbane Lord Mayor is presenting (27th June).

Len Cook was the main speaker on population trends in Auckland, with the mayor and the Chief Planning Officer also providing “context” presentations as well. I can say that Len Cook has a wicked sense of humour and at times had the room in stitches (got to love Kiwi/British witty humour). Humour aside the matter at hand was population.

We know Auckland Council is using the high projection of an extra million people by 2040. I also know there are those who are opposed to that and believe we should use the medium projection (600k – 700k). I am also aware that the Prime Minister has made comments that Auckland that Auckland could be on ULTRA and hit an extra 1.5 million in the city by 2040.

Debating which projection should be used is pointless and a distraction. I have made my reasons behind supporting the high projection (and even be prepared for the Ultra projection) in the “Population (Trends) Matter” post – so I won’t cover that again.

What I do have though is all three presentations by all three speakers for your reading pleasure. I also have the link to All About Auckland’s video log of Len Cooks speech. It is free and well worth it (if not the content then for the wit and humour).


Starting with the Mayor

You can see where Council is getting their projection trends from. In saying that and also to save Auckland 2040 some extra grief, let’s just pause the scrap over which projection we should be used. Wait for Statistics NZ to announce the 2013 Census results and see where our population has really moved. Once the modelling and projections are redone from the 2013 Census data, then we can continue the projection debate.

But, for now lets continue on the high projection as a “Safe Guard” and review the projection and subsequent planning after every Census (5 years). As mentioned before, a surplus and scale back is easier to deal with that a deficit and catch up (as Auckland is facing now).


From Dr Roger Blakeley – Chief Planning Officer

Most of the presentation is on stuff we have already seen with the Unitary Plan. There are two slides however, that have my attention. One is the growth rate via natural births and net migration, the other is the two different projections (one on population and the other on infrastructure).

Looking at the growth chart you can see natural increase is trending up with net migration tapering off for the moment. Now I know we face an ageing population. In saying that to stop the population from contracting as seen in Japan and Germany you need to have your birth rates above “population replacement.” In New Zealand the replacement rate is around 2.2 (meaning on average every family needs to have 2.2 children to replace our population at the current level). If the actual rate falls below 2.2 our population decreases while the opposite occurs if above the 2.2 rate. I believe (waiting on Census 2013) New Zealand’s rate through natural increases is at 2.3-2.5. For a developed country that is high but, it means we are not only replacing our “ageing” population but also continue to grow.

This 2.3-2.5 factor needs to be watched for two reasons. If it slips below 2.2 then we get into trouble from a contracting population. But at the 2.3-2.5 level we also need to cater for that growth. And this is what Council is looking at (although not explicitly mentioned in the presentation), the growth (from our rate being above 2.2).

So while we are above 2.2 – we better plan for the growth and start at the high-end first before scaling back if required as time allows and shows.

What got me though was Council using two different projects; one for population and one for major infrastructure. I made this comment in reaction to the difference:

Dr Roger Blakeley – Chief Planning Officer of Auckland Council said if we have High Population projections, the major infrastructure provision projections should be at medium. Otherwise we could get a surplus in infrastructure that could cost the city.

Err if we treat population and infrastructure 1:1 as it should be, would that not mean an actual infrastructure deficit like we have now? High population means high infrastructure provision. Not high and medium…

And the Censuses being every 5 years would be able to tell us whether we need to scale back or ramp up the infrastructure provisions per actual population movements any how so we don’t get massive infrastructure surpluses

If Dr Blakeley would like to explain his logic between the difference rather than the 1:1 or’ as like’ with population growth and infrastructure provision then feel free Roger to leave a comment below or request for a guest post.

Note from Admin: Dr Roger Blakeley has responded to the questions that were raised about the logic behind the high population projection and medium major infrastructure provision project. You can see his answers over at Shape Auckland:



And finally Len Cook’s presentation

I recommend watching the video of this presentation with the PDF along side as supplementary.

Very good points made although none of them covered the fact we need a diverse mix of housing to cater for our heterogeneous population (small nuclear to large collective families). I was going to raise it as question for discussion but someone took too long in fixation on a particular issue in a particular area of Auckland that earned the ire of the room rather fast.

And that was the presentation. I will be going to the June 27th Auckland Conversation when the Brisbane Lord Mayor is presenting. Having lived in Brisbane and keenly aware of Brisbane issues, it will be interesting to hear what he has to say in the post Campbell era.