So. How Can Auckland Catch Up? #AKLPols

After PwC Report illustrates Auckland is being left behind how do we catch up?

Short answer:

Basic stuff first then the bigger more complex stuff. In other words walk before we run, and nail down those quick wins.

Long Answer:

Last week I picked up on that Auckland was falling behind other advanced international cities on several key performance indicators. Those four indicators we are slipping in are nothing unusual but it demonstrates why Auckland needs a proper plan and proper investment in order to have Auckland firing on all twelve cylinders like a V12 engine.

The immigration policy tweaks National announced yesterday and Labour did in 2014 are Anti Auckland and go the opposite way in what is actually needed if we want our only international city to do its job. That is be the gateway for New Zealand to the World.

A brief recap:

Auckland Being Left Behind Other World Cities? Well Who Would Have Thought #AKLPols

We are meant to be striding towards the Auckland Plan’s goal of “The World’s Most Liveable City” right? Well it seems we might be going actually tad backwards in that goal.

Last night an Auckland Council sponsored Auckland Conversations event was held discussing “Auckland: City of Opportunity – Reaching Sustainable Competitive Advantage.” Once the video link and the 2015 PwC Cities of Opportunity Report are available I will post them here into the blog.

But in short it says while Auckland is improving in some areas overall we have flat-lined compared to other advanced cities (that is our competitors). Meaning? We have gone backwards and slipped down two or three rankings in the overall rankings slot.

From the NZ Herald:

Does Auckland need to catch up?

Auckland is being left behind by some of the world’s biggest cities, according to a report released today.

A City of Opportunity, compiled by global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), looked at four areas that needed the most work in Auckland. They were transportation and infrastructure, technology readiness, demographics and liveability and economic clout.


So the four things we are lagging in are:

  1. Transportation and infrastructure,
  2. Technology readiness,
  3. Demographics,
  4.  Liveability and economic clout

While we are good at:

  1. Quality of life
  2. Attracting talent
  3. Ease of doing business

So we have “attractors” all here and ready to go (what we are good at) but the “bones” that make up a City are again sorely lacking. This is going to be a given with Conservative politics not investing (and still not even in 2015) in transport and infrastructure needed to sustain an international city like Auckland.

The message to Central Governments (both National and Labour) is that Auckland is the gateway to the world even for dairy products. If Auckland can not competed to the point we slip behind our advanced cousins as the PwC report basically shows then we as a nation don’t reach our full potential.

However, Auckland (the people) and Auckland Council are need to take some responsibility as well. We are not a village or some small town we are an international city competing against other international cities (not other New Zealand cities) so you need to remember this. Our planning (and this is where Council becomes too timid as the Unitary Plan grinds its way through) needs to be hauled over and evaluated on whether we want to plan for a village in the Pacific or plan for an international city of the World.



So how can we catch up.

Well as I said above we have the three draw cards there (Quality of Life, Attracting Talent and Ease of doing business) so Auckland has no problem pulling in the people and for the most part keeping them here. Where we fall over is the basic components of the skeleton system that holds up Auckland (or gives it backbone).

Transport and Infrastructure

This has been the bane of Auckland’s existence since the beginning of the 20th Century. Bold ideas to keep Auckland moving, water flowing to your home and the sewerage being treated have all been floated. We were lucky to get the Mangere Sewer Plant thanks to pioneer Dove Myer Robinson who was against those who would simply not fund it (so sewerage would be still dumped in both our harbours). However, we have not been lucky with transport as congestion would show.

The transport solutions are there both in small quick wins and the larger grander projects. For the larger projects go check out Generation Zero and Transport Blog’s Congestion Free Network. They have both road and public transport projects at the fraction of the cost of what Government and Council have proposed AND the Congestion Free Network gets Auckland moving where the Council and Government plans do not.

Small wins also help heaps too even if the effects are local. Lowering speed limits in residential areas and non arterials in the Metropolitan Centres would assist. More cycle ways, bus lanes and priority measures help too. Getting rid of slip lanes also help.

But this needs vision and political will. It is there in part from Council and for the most part our citizens. But is seriously lacking from Government and our bureaucrats.

Northern Busway Auckland 1 963x492

Technology Readiness

I am assuming this means connectivity to the world via the Internet and having pools of IT talent on hand within Auckland to boost business, education providers, and citizens as well as allow more innovation that comes from this.

The investment in fibre, a second overseas cable, and education providers for IT graduates would cover this need well enough. Unless there is something I am  missing here?


Specifically this was talking about an aging population which is facing the Western World plus Japan. Yes this is a concern as it can place strains on our systems both at local and central levels. But given New Zealand specifically Auckland often enjoys good migration and a good natural births rate (above the replacement rate) we should be able to insulate the worst of the aging population effects out.

But we need to have the economics of continuing to attract talent (which we do) and not provide excessive road blocks for those wanting families in Auckland (housing affordability and jobs being the biggest two influences). This is where investment in education plus good City Planning pays off.

Education would be one tool to break the back of social deprivation in Auckland. Good planning regimes that allow new houses and businesses to establish quickly without hurdles is another tool to break the back of social deprivation in Auckland.

Realising we have very demographics in Auckland would also go a very long way as well in lifting us. Our plans and assumptions base most things on White People. Doesn’t work. We have countless ethnicities and cultures all with different needs and ways of living in Auckland. Our future plans and investment must recognise this for both business and residential.

Liveability and Economic Clout

We are meant to be The World’s Most Liveable City but we are anything but. Traffic sucks, it takes ages to get a house or business built, we dither on getting things done so we don’t keep sliding back in productivity and we wonder why despite being an international city our economic clout is not where it should be.

Auckland is an international city with a good quality of life, able to attract talent, and easy to do business in. This alone should be giving us liveability (through wealth) and economic clout against our international competitors. But something is sapping that clout out and it is those four things mentioned above that is dragging us down.

Effectively Change Agents need to come in with full autonomy and do the following:

  1. Stock take on what Auckland has
  2. Four goals to achieve and set in the Auckland Plan
  3. Lay down the zones so we know where businesses will be and where the people will live (in both residential zones, and the Centres). These zones would be flexible especially in subsequent upzoning as the City continues to grow and get under way
  4. Build infrastructure connecting the two
  5. Build social and civic infrastructure to support the two
  6. Let rip and alter as the City evolves

Basic stuff there that if we can not execute properly then pretty much forget everything else

We need not grand schemes to get Auckland going. Getting back to the basics and having a basic set of frameworks or rather I should say framework is all that is needed.

Remember the Sydney Plan is about 150 odd pages to Auckland’s 320 pages. Who do you think of the two has a better chance in realising their goals?


2 thoughts on “So. How Can Auckland Catch Up? #AKLPols

  1. Firstly, we need to vote those out that are unfit for governance. Especially the likes of Quax and Wood that have built their careers blustering on about fiscal prudence when it suits them, but standing by gilt-edged roading and stadium projects that don’t stand up to BCR scrutiny; a diversion of precious resources from creating a truly multi-modal transport city with housing choice.

    Worse than being plain old ignorant, they knowingly cherrypick their opportunities to be outraged by Council spending.

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