The Auckland Project?

Inspirational or  Not Inspirational?


It explains the large amount of commentary pieces yesterday in the NZ Herald as I see they decided to run a “Project Auckland” “series” that Transport Blog picked up on and ran their own commentary with.

From Transport Blog

By Matt L, on November 12th, 2013

The Herald today has a large amount of op-eds on what is being called Project Auckland which is looking at how Auckland is going to develop and as you would expect, housing and transport features very heavily. Op-eds include

Now I’m not going to comment on every single article but rather some of the general themes within them, although I will pick out a few individual comments that have annoyed me (as I seem to be in a grumpy mood today which is quite unusual).

The really positive thing about all of the pieces is that in general people think the city is heading in the right direction and considering how much has had to be done by the council over the last few years to merge all of the various council plans and policies together. Things could have easily gone quite wrong and so the council staff (from all organisations) and the politicians need to be congratulated for that.

Of course not everything has been plain sailing and there have been (and still are) a number of issues that haven’t been handled ideally. The Unitary Plan is one of those where the lack of clear enough information about what was proposed led to the development of groups like Auckland 2040 that used misinformation and scare tactics to oppose the plan. In the article about the Unitary Plan I wanted to highlight some of the positive comments in relation to it. First from Penny Hulse

You can read the full piece over at Transport Blog


I went scouring through every single Project Auckland commentary piece from the Herald last night and apart from the “The debate over change” piece I was not entirely inspired nor displaying great amounts of confidence in what was being said – at all.

Sure in the “The debate over change” Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Urban/Rural Development Committee Penny Hulse and Chief Planning Officer Dr Roger Blakeley outline the tremendous efforts Council is doing in slowly nudging the City over via the Unitary (and later Area) Plan(s) towards 21st Century urban developments.

On a mass scale size we can see this “nudging” over in Auckland’s brand new Metropolitan Centre that has started construction over in Westgate/Massey North (New $1b Westgate starts rising.) Despite a few things that could have been improved (supermarket and large bulk store (Mitre 10 etc) car parks should be behind the building (or underground as we are seeing in South Auckland), not in front of it roadside) this new Metro Centre (with a 8 storey height limit) is a good nudge over – in my opinion. So thumbs up to New Zealand Retail Property Group on this development.

While the Westgate Metropolitan Centre is a “greenfield” development that is part of the nudge over towards 21st Century development, there is also 21st Century redevelopments in the pipeline such the Manukau’s 21st Century Development that will act as the Brownfield “nudge”. Okay that is a private citizen based idea but like most things in life it starts with an idea, gains traction then takes off into fruition.


So yes we can see nudging over towards 21st Century urban developments – away from the 1950’s past we have been stuck with currently. This is all good and positive and deserves credit – well done. Sadly looking at Auckland 2040’s comments in the Herald piece and picked up by Transport Blog, they would rather have us stay in the 1950’s despite the recent elections which can be seen as a “mandate” to continue with the Unitary and Area Plans. Transport Blog did critique Auckland 2040 right back in their respective post.

Later on I’ll copy over a Twitter scrap that occurred over Auckland 2040 last night – quite interesting to read and see as it gives fuel to what I am going to continue on about this Auckland Project.


Back to the rest of the commentary pieces on Project Auckland. As I noted earlier I scoured through all the Herald’s Project Auckland pieces and I was left both uninspired and not showing a lot of confidence in it at all. Sorry guys you are going to have to forgive me on several fronts here for not displaying that confidence on Project Auckland.

First reason being history especially around how currently The Southern Initiative has fallen by the wayside and doesn’t even have “buy-in” from the respective Councillors and Local Boards that are in the Initiative Area at the moment. A sign of dysfunction and lost energy on what is meant to be a key project for South Auckland? Most likely and something I might bring up on November 28 at my (pending) presentation as this falling to the wayside does not inspire a community to rally around worthwhile cause/project…. Remember “battles will be won or lost in the suburbs” and with the Southern Initiative it is currently being lost in the suburbs of South Auckland.


Second Reason for not having confidence in Project Auckland is that what most of these guys are proposing is the exact same stuff we have been stuck with since the 1950’s. Sure they acknowledge a Unitary Plan (that has been scaled back too far) and a Unitary Authority but more highways such as the destructive East-West Link? Come on we are beyond this and beyond low-rise and endless sprawl as well.

Quoting Transport Blog:

On the infrastructure side though there is a very clear push through quite a number of the pieces about the East-West Link. The project is one that came from obscurity to be ranked one of the most important in the region in The Auckland Plan a few years ago and there has been a strong indication that the council’s support of it was the price to pay for the business community supporting the CRL. It is now being moved well ahead of the CRL in the overall timeline and the government is expected to agree to a funding package for it next year despite there not having even been a business case completed for it yet, let alone a confirmed route – although I’m also hearing that option 4, the route that is the most destructive, most expensive and that has the least benefit for freight is the one that is now the front-runner. It makes me wonder if all these mentions of it is part of a concerted effort to soften up the public on the need for it.

Option Four of the East-West Link I am watching very VERY closely as it affects friends and family that would be in the firing line of that particular route option. Also there are more cheaper and efficient options in moving the freight from the airport, Penrose/Onehunga, East Tamaki and Highbrook industrial areas rather than destructive motorway-grade link that only reinforces 1950’s planning thinking which seems to be ‘business over all else.” I see Auckland Transport’s CEO David Warburton seems to be championing the link here “Package solution for transport projects.” So again on this aspect I display not much confidence nor being inspired for Project Auckland if this is the obsolete path being purported.


Speaking of transport I do notice Auckland Transport constantly underselling public transport projects. Although with AT-HOP and NZ Bus I be cautious as well but as Transport Blog said:

“The reason AT keep underselling it is they are afraid to promise anything in case they aren’t able to deliver it but they fail to realise that if they keep underselling the project then it risks losing public support.”

Transport investment wise which does not inspire any confidence at all towards Project Auckland is the $60 billion failure called the 2012 Integrated Transport Program. It is currently $15 billion short of the “required” fund to carry out the projects in the 2012 ITP but yet if all these projects were built, congestion still gets much worse by 2040. So please tell me again why are we sinking $60 billion (for which we don’t even have all the money for) down an apparent black hole for a final outcome that is going to be worse congestion and travel wise than now?!

Good news is that Generation Zero and Transport Blog did produce the Congestion Free Network as a fully viable alternative that cheaper AND improves our travel situation unlike the current 2012 ITP – that Project Auckland is supporting.


This all brings around to the earlier mention of a Twitter spat I got into with two conservative pundits last night around project Auckland.

  1. 56Ben Ross ‏@BenRoss_AKL19h

    Who the heck let NIMBY Auckland 2040 have a spiel but not a YIMBY like @GenerationZer0 or myself here …

  2. Tiny Klout Flag53Bill Ralston ‏@BillyRalston19h

    @BenRoss_AKL @GenerationZer0 You call them NIMBY I call it grassroots democracy with people taking an interest in what happens to their hood

  3. Tiny Klout Flag56Ben Ross ‏@BenRoss_AKL19h

    @BillyRalston @GenerationZer0 @TransportBlog also called out Auckland 2040 as well for purporting well crap to be simple

  4. Tiny Klout Flag58TransportBlog ‏@TransportBlog19h

    @BenRoss_AKL @BillyRalston @GenerationZer0 Grassroots is fine if they told the truth. 2040 didn’t, they twisted details to scaremonger

  5. Tiny Klout Flag53Bill Ralston ‏@BillyRalston19h

    @TransportBlog @BenRoss_AKL @GenerationZer0 Apologies. We should all STFU and let you planners dictate how we live. Ok.

  6. Tiny Klout Flag57John Drinnan ‏@Zagzigger13h

    @BillyRalston @TransportBlog @BenRoss_AKL @GenerationZer0 Agree with Bill – why are you trying to shut down debate

  7. Tiny Klout Flag56Ben Ross ‏@BenRoss_AKL13h

    @Zagzigger @BillyRalston @TransportBlog @GenerationZer0 Herald shut it down on their own. A Monologue from one side isnt a debate

  8. Tiny Klout Flag57John Drinnan ‏@Zagzigger13h

    @BenRoss_AKL @BillyRalston @TransportBlog @GenerationZer0 ger whale oil on your side – that’ll get the numbers

  9. Tiny Klout Flag58TransportBlog ‏@TransportBlog13h

    @Zagzigger @BenRoss_AKL @BillyRalston @GenerationZer0 All we ask for is a balanced debate and not one-sided misinformed hysteria.

  10. Tiny Klout Flag57John Drinnan ‏@Zagzigger13h

    @TransportBlog @BenRoss_AKL @BillyRalston @GenerationZer0 who is we?

  11. Tiny Klout Flag57John Drinnan ‏@Zagzigger13h

    @TransportBlog @BenRoss_AKL @BillyRalston @GenerationZer0 I find misself agreeing with @billyRalston – dialogue 1 way – skeptics are chumps

  12. Tiny Klout Flag43Ian Allan ‏@decanker13h

    @Zagzigger @TransportBlog @BenRoss_AKL @BillyRalston @GenerationZer0 I haven’t heard a skeptic offer an informed alternative.

  13. Tiny Klout Flag57John Drinnan ‏@Zagzigger13h

    @decanker @TransportBlog @BenRoss_AKL @BillyRalston @GenerationZer0 notn well enough informed 4 yr debate – Ill leave it to you and Ben



What can’t be seen as that branched off into another debate thread was the fact that myself, Transport Blog writers, Generation Zero and supporters are not planners. We are citizens who all want a Better 21st Century Auckland

This sub-thread further answered John’s question on who “we” actually are:

  1. 58TransportBlog ‏@TransportBlog13h

    @Zagzigger @decanker @BenRoss_AKL @BillyRalston @GenerationZer0 We want to help inform people with facts but sadly many don’t want to listen

  2. Tiny Klout Flag58TransportBlog ‏@TransportBlog13h

    @Zagzigger Generally referring to @BenRoss_AKL & @GenerationZer0 & ourselves. @BillyRalston



This Twitter spat that kicked off after my protestation on Auckland 2040 getting a slot to spiel their (well it is) propaganda (and proven) but yet the Herald did not bother to contact myself, Transport Blog and/or Generation Zero for our valid opinions and counter-proposals to provide balance for Project (21st Century) Auckland.

That alone when only one narrow side gets put out there but no counter-balance to offer an alternative to the wider City is enough for me to not display inspiration nor much confidence in such a “vision” like Project Auckland. All ideas and alternatives need to be put out into the public realm for an honest and frank debate by everyone. You will find the better if not best solutions come out of those debates. Not this one sides purporting of one set of “solutions” that should be taken as gospel as could be seen in Project Auckland as that often gets us the worst of solutions and results as there is no scrutiny, no counter-proposals able to be put forward.


 Project Auckland? Probably get me black listed for writing a constructive critique such as this (where I have little to be inspired for and little confidence to be displayed) – all for wanting a Better Auckland – a 21st (not 1950’s) Auckland…. 



One thought on “The Auckland Project?

  1. re the Auckland Project: A fairly transparent advertorial by Matthew Heal in the NZ Herald this week is ‘Housing Partnerships provide Golden Opportunity’. This is aimed at encouraging communities, businesses and investors to partially fund through PPPs the building of desperately needed homes for HNZ to lease. Supposedly a win/win.

    However it ignores the corporation’s failed attempt along the same lines in 2003. The notorious 32-unit Pepperwood Mews complex was built by agreement between HNZ and a developer. It failed dismally. Experts say the building is structurally unsound and not built to plan. Yet it was accepted for lease by HNZ and issued with a CCC by Council.
    Pepperwood Mews owners are mostly retirement age or close to, and still fighting for justice. Their pleas, and even those from opposition MPs in the beehive have all fallen on deaf ears.
    Housing Ministers have called the issue ‘an operational matter’ and washed their hands of it.

    Now HNZ appears to want to try the model again. But how can potential PPP stakeholders be confident the government won’t run for the hills at the first sign of trouble when it has refused for so many years to clean up the last mess?

    Disillusioned Investor

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