The human element is missing from Manukau
In the previous post of this series (#TransformManukau – The Context. Part 7 of the Manukau City Centre – The Transform Series) I looked at the context leading up to where we are today with Manukau, and Transform Manukau led by Panuku Development Auckland.
As we know Manukau has economic clout in Auckland and a lot of potential to be The Thriving Heart and Soul of the South (the vision from the High Level Project Plan):
But as we also know with Manukau it sits in a value trough compared to the surrounding residential areas acting like a monolith. The monlith is big structures but lacking the local and people element. To make things a bit more complex in Transform we also have the case where: Human Geography Element Still Lacking in Council and Auckland in which I concluded there: “In short? We are great with the Physical Geography stuff (the tangible stuff we can use our five senses on) but like Transform Manukau (and as that series is fleshing out) Council and its CCO’s lack the capabilities in clearly articulating the Human Geography side – the people side. Without the Human Geography side and Human Geographers assisting Council articulating that Human Geography side (and story) then all we get is Auckland being one big monolith!”
Now Panuku realises that yes they are great with the Physical Geography side but it will certainly be interesting dealing with the Human Geography side. That said the person who I had met up with at Panuku for the story on Manukau articulated the Human Geography side extremely well. What it can come down to now is people and bloggers like myself to help articulate that human side of the Manukau story and generate feedback to help better Manukau (and the South).
Improving the Quality of Life of the People
Panuku have created eight goals for Transform Manukau. Those eight goals being:
Notice how all eight goals look at improving the quality of life for the people whether directly (green spaces, and connectivity between Manukau and the South) or indirectly through economic and social initiatives, and increasing economic participation in Manukau City Centre.
So how do we improve the quality of life for the people of the South through Transform Manukau? We do this in a two prong fashion:
- Having the communities in the front seat driving the implementation of Transform Manukau (rather than being led by the Council)
- Bringing the Local to Manukau
1) Having the communities in the front seat driving the implementation of Transform Manukau (rather than being led by the Council)
This is Goal 8 of Panuku and one of my main advocacy points to Council and Panuku (for the last five years) in having the community in the front seat driving the implementation of Transform Manukau. Note I have said implementation rather than “planning.” This is because Manukau has been planned to death and the community is getting consultation fatigue from it (simply put they switch off). What the community wants, what I would like to see and what Panuku wants to do is to get cracking – to implement these plans and get the ball finally rolling on Transform Manukau.
With communities (and that includes the business community) in the front seat of the Transform Manukau program the program itself would be adaptive to the needs of the Southern Auckland area (including Manukau) through a collaborative and empowerment regime rather than back seat passengers that has been a regular occurrence with another particular Council Controlled Organisation.
With the community in the front seat driving Transform Manukau part two becomes easier to realise.
2) Bringing the Local to Manukau
One thing Panuku made very clear in their sit down is that Manukau is great with the regional stuff like the mall, large format retail, Rainbows End, the police HQ and the courts. But what is missing in Manukau is the local stuff that would make people want to stay, linger, socialise or even live in Manukau rather than this 9-5 transactional economy Manukau currently has.
As I quoted above we are great at the physical stuff (and often that is where the regional stuff is often placed) but we are lagging in the human stuff (where the local would sit) that humanises a centre especially a Metropolitan Centre.
So what is the local stuff needed to humanise the Metropolitan Centre that is Manukau City Centre (and its surrounds)? Well a critical mass of a permanent population base (whether it be apartments in Manukau City Centre itself or terraced housing in the residential estates south of Manukau City Centre) would be a good start as that critical mass attracts commercial development (viability) and further investment from the public sector (Council and Government). The commercial development especially if things like bars, cafes, and small format retail would give people a reason to stay, linger, socialise, and attract more people to live and work in Manukau.
A risk though in driving for that critical mass of a permanent residential population in Manukau is that the new residential population decide to go elsewhere to socialise and even work resulting in Manukau still losing out as a 9-5 transactional economy.
The question is though what goes first to attract people to Manukau in order to build that critical mass and bring that Local (the people) to Manukau? Do we go with the physical stuff first like big apartment blocks or even more offices followed by open spaces or do we go open spaces first THEN the apartment blocks and offices? If I put my Cities Skylines hat on we go open spaces first then the apartments and offices.
The reason for going for the open spaces first is two-fold:
- Increase the quality of the area already to existing users
- Make the area more attractive to new residents and workers
There is also a third reason being cheaper to lay down first rather than retrofit later on when the developments are completed.
Good open spaces right off the bat before the development for new residents and workers also gives reason for existing users of Manukau to socialise, linger and even purchase more services and goods. This in turn through Economics 101 acts as the catalyst to more wanting to come to the area in both living, shopping, working, and selling those goods and services. But remember the aim is to bring the local (the people) to Manukau.
Large format retail form good regional anchors and have a place in Manukau given Manukau is the regional hub for half a million people. But the encouragement is also needed on small format retail including hospitality to give the people inclusionary feel of a and in a large Centre (Manukau can be rather isolating to a person or a group of people). And to do this we need to understand both the people already coming to Manukau like myself and those already in Manukau like the businesses in order so that we can be good active front seat drivers to Transform Manukau (rather than a passenger steering out the window bored silly).
How to get the Local going and having the communities in the front seat driving the implementation of Transform Manukau
I will go project specific with the Davies Avenue axis in the next post. In the meantime and I raised the idea for Panuku to actively consider (and they are) of placing an easy to access community office in Manukau where the public and businesses can walk in, check out what Transform Manukau is, get information on Transform Manukau and give ideas on Transform Manukau. This community office would be the front-of-house interaction point between Panuku and the South.
The community office would also be the ‘vessel’ or catalysis allowing the people to be in that front seat helping to drive Transform Manukau. The catch is to get it a budget line from Council to make it happen (if Council is serious about being people first).
There is certainly more that can be done in articulating the Human Geography side of the Transform Manukau story. This post is not designed to be the be-all end-all exhaustive list of what to do. But rather a chapter in the ongoing articulation of Transform Manukau and how Transform Manukau can improve the quality of life for the people of the South.