Our Suburban Urbanite: The Case for Manukau City Centre. #BetterAuckland and why People Should Write the Plan

A suburban urban (Metropolitan Centre) centre on our back doorstep


Community writes the Plan and NOT the Council


A double opportunity has presented itself to Auckland especially Southern Auckland. For the South we have Manukau City Centre up to be a ‘Transform’ centre under Panuku Development Auckland’s urban renewal program (see: Manukau and Onehunga Short-listed as Panuku’s Transform Urban Renewal Program #BetterAuckland) while the book Suburban Urbanites provides excellent critiques and policy ideas on both the relationships of the suburbia and how to get suburbia right.


With Manukau being a suburban urban centre to undergo “Transform” urban renewal (Transform means similar to Wynyard Quarter scale and type of works) we need to undertake a few things first before a Manukau City Centre Master Plan (similar to the City Centre Master Plan) can ever be written up.

City Centre Master Plan
City Centre Master Plan

The three things need to occur with Manukau (a suburban urban centre) for Panuku to get its High Level Project Plan (HLPP) off the ground and ready for the Auckland Development Committee by April per the December Agenda, Paragraph 47 – Page 44.


The first thing Panuku need to do is a stock take of everything in Manukau and within a three kilometre radius around it. What hard, soft and civic infrastructure is available and what are their capacity limits (have they been reached like the Southern Interceptor)? What buildings are present and what function do they serve? Commute patterns (already provided through the Ministry of Transport and AT HOP data). Legacy of the Centre and its surrounds to which this includes any Plans done by a Council current or legacy. What identity do people already place on Manukau City Centre?

The second thing to do is go through the book Suburban Urbanites and then ask yourself the relationship and Manukau’s place in the network of relationships it has with wider Auckland. This is especially critical given Manukau is in close proximity to all five heavy industrial complexes (given four are already in the South)

Suburb relationships https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/suburban-urbanities
Suburb relationships


Source: http://theplan.theaucklandplan.govt.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Map-6.1-Aucklands-Economy_120501_noTitle.jpg
Source: http://theplan.theaucklandplan.govt.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Map-6.1-Aucklands-Economy_120501_noTitle.jpg


The third and final thing Panuku need to do when creating their High Level Project Plan is merge the existing Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board Area Plan and the Manukau City Public Domain Manual which already  lay out in both high and fine grain detail on aspirations for Manukau City Centre over the life of the Auckland Plan.


After those three things have occurred and the High Level Project Plan is created does the Auckland Development Committee then set a “budget.” A budget in what resources Council make above and beyond any resource already committed to Manukau which then forms the set framework for the ultimate goal needing to be done. That is the creation of the Manukau City Centre Master Plan which would be similar to the already operative City Centre Master Plan further north.

Community Written Master Plans

Now there is a catch in writing this Manukau City Centre Master Plan and it will prove to be a winner with the Community and its citizens BUT most controversial to Auckland Council and Panuku. That is the Community (business, citizens, Community organisations and Central Government indicating its level of investment (Te Papa North, AUT and MIT)) writes the entire Manukau City Centre Master Plan within that earlier mention budget set, not Panuku and not the wider Council family. That is right the Community writes the Plan as it is OUR place not the Council’s. Panuku and Council s execute the Manukau City Centre Master Plan once the Community has written it. This would be Collaboration and Empowerment under the below IAP2 model given that there is Council input through the HLPP, Budget setting and partnering up in setting the chronological order of implementing (thus Empower) the final Master Plan.


Public Participation SourceL International Association for Public Participation
Public Participation
SourceL International Association for Public Participation


Yes this will prove most controversial to the Council but THIS following op-ed demonstrates WHY the Community should be Empowered writing the Plan and even be the Master of Oversight while Panuku executes it: Whatever happened to the people’s wharf?


Essentially outside of Wynyard Quarter the rest of the Waterfront and Downtown has lost its way from what was promised over the last six-year in a drowning mix of jargon laden Plans like the following:

  • City Centre Master Plan
  • Waterfront Master Plan
  • Downtown Framework
  • Central Wharves Strategy
  • And the master of all plans the Auckland Plan due to be reviewed and most likely rewritten en-mass from next year

And Council in that op-ed piece has admitted as much in the Waterfront and Downtown losing its way with projects especially vanity projects (The Cloud and the Shed 10 Cruise Terminal) being done ad-hoc rather than more integrated as seen with Wynyard Quarter.

So with that in mind with the lower City Centre my eye is firmly on Council as we approach the Transform project for Manukau City Centre.


Thankfully we have the Public Domain Manual, the Area Plan and the book Suburban Urbanites already in play meaning most of the more nitty-gritty side of planning for Manukau is already done when the Community writes that Manukau City Centre Master Plan. What the Community needs to do within the Budget set from the High Level Project Plan is:

  • What needs changing in the Manukau City Centre Public Domain Manual (apart from Lot 59 owing to the Bus Interchange going in there) (Community is empowered in working through any changes)
  • A list in chronological order on what gets executed first through Panuku (in Collaboration with Panuku)


Because ultimately it is the people, the Community, and the businesses in Manukau that will give the Sense of Identity to Manukau City Centre. Not the Council trying to foster one upon the South lest they want to go down the path of maximum resistance as Auckland Transport is finding out with the Manukau Bus Interchange.

It is the people and businesses who produce and consume (this includes interacting with a place) inside Manukau City Centre rather than the Council thus it is both the people and the businesses that should write the Manukau City Centre Master Plan if we want Manukau’s Transform to be a beacon of success through being empowered and time rather than a beacon of ummm yeah what was said in that Op-Ed I linked earlier.




This slideshow requires JavaScript.


3 thoughts on “Our Suburban Urbanite: The Case for Manukau City Centre. #BetterAuckland and why People Should Write the Plan

  1. This whole Panuku thing is very strange. In Henderson the latest press release says Panuku’s key to unlocking Henderson is more resedential housing. Are you bloody serious? So when we look at the map above the Film Precinct has been removed from Henderson. The marin Precinct has gone. The council makes vineyards and orchards plant there land in natives as development contributions and the hard left politics out west hates tourism. There is no economic strategy. The last economic boost for New Lynn was a drug and alcohol rehab! If we overlay that with the amount of pools and recreation facilities we see we have few to none of those either. Access to natural safe swimming beaches or lakes – no. More high density low cost housing is not the answer. We need to attract more of our share of talent and people and families going places. I though Panuku was about them investing in us and our amenities and economy so we could attract more of those families and have a more equitable Auckland. High density does not automatically equal better living, in poorly designed areas with few economic opportunities it equal slums and crime. Well designed attractive cities with access to great architecture, recreation facilities, cultural and economic opportunities attract devlopment and the high quality density. I’m not sure if Panuku is going to be an opportunity at all. It’s time for Auckland Council to spend some money out West. Not more housing to improve their rates take.

    1. When the initial list of 10 came out in October I had Manukau, Henderson and Otahuhu down for the ‘Transform’ class of urban renewal with most of the others as Unlock or Support.

      But when the presser came out for Henderson as an Unlock I was baffled given Henderson is a Metropolitan Centre. Looking at the Panuku papers it seems they want to do something with the old Council building. What I do not know as of yet.

      I suppose we might know more tomorrow.

      1. Thanks Ben. I shall wait to see where they go with this. Thanks for covering local govt for us and keeping us informed.

Comments are closed.