The South Overtaking The Isthmus – In Terms of Population? What Does This Mean? #AKLPols

Trajectories show Southern Auckland outgrowing the Central Auckland in numbers


Transport Blog ran an interesting post on the population growth since 1891 until about 2015 which you can read here: Central Auckland population growth, 1891-2013

What was especially interesting was the graph breaking down in the sub regions which you can see below:

Population by sub region Source:
Population by sub region


For the sake of the exercise Otahuhu is considered part of Southern Auckland as it is part of the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board which is inside the Manukau Ward.


You can see that the Isthmus had the highest population and highest growth in population until about and between the mid 70’s and early 80’s owing to OPEC oil shocks which also sparked the decline of Western cities in that period (as heavy industry moved out of the old cities like New York). But from the mid 80’s when the Neo Liberal reforms came through you can see the Isthmus take off again and never looked back.

The North and West of Auckland also experienced growth you can’t but not notice the South taking off from the early 50’s owing to the Southern Motorway being built bit by bit. In the 60’s as a result of needing a major centre to service the South Manukau City Centre was built. As we know Manukau’s history would be underwhelming until this year with a massive urban renewal project kicking off by Panuku Development Auckland to turn Manukau around.


Moving to 2000 until current day you can see the South really taking off and never looking back since. While we can attribute this to Greenfield growth such as Botany and now Flatbush, Papakura area and the Franklin District the Brownfield intensification on the South is also beginning to accelerate as people look for housing after the Isthmus becomes really unaffordable.

When you looking at 2015 you can see the South nudging the Isthmus in terms of population numbers. Thus on current trajectories I would estimate that by 2025 (heck even 2020 if the Isthmus does not step up with the Unitary Plan) that the South will overtake the Isthmus.


What does this mean for planning?


It means the primary population base is at least 25km from the primary employment centre that is the City Centre. The consequence of that kind of gap is trying to get people to move that distance both on the Southern Motorway (already congested) and the Southern and Eastern Lines (which have capacity for now). Given our productivity in Auckland is already negative mainly owing to transport woes how is the City going to actually cope as the situation gets worse?

Productivity for the 2014 year. Source; Auckland Plan Annual Implementation Update
Productivity for the 2014 year.
Source; Auckland Plan Annual Implementation Update


Now granted there is a large amount of employment growth in the South with our big industrial complexes and soon Manukau City Centre as it undergoes urban renewal like the main City Centre is. The question is are we set up to continue to accommodate further employment growth in the South so we can at least slow down the extra congestion issues the City will face as the South continues its rapid pace growth.


The final question I leave you is this:

With the growth meaning the South is likely to overtake the Isthmus, is Auckland heading towards a Twin Cities situation?


Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Mt Eden Source:
Mt Eden


Southern Rural Urban Boundary with Future urban zones in yellow
Southern Rural Urban Boundary with Future urban zones in yellow