One topic that has received more attention of late is the idea of “generational differences” and how they might impact on future travel patterns. As many of our regular readers will know, there is considerable evidence emerging that shows some fairly stark differences in the transport and land use preferences of older and younger generations.

For those who have missed these earlier posts, they have considered:

  1. Declining per capita demand  for vehicle travel and lower levels of vehicle ownership;
  2. Why fewer people are choosing to get their drivers’ licenses; and
  3. Increased use of public transport, walking, and cycling.

Altogether it seems fair to say that young people these days just aren’t as attached to cars as much as much as their parents. As this article observes, the generational differences are evident in a number of countries, including the Japan, the U.S., and Australia – so this is a global phenomenon.

If we take the existence of these generational differences as given (and I think the evidence is sufficiently strong now that we can), then it raises some important questions about how we make transport and land use decisions. In my mind, the presence of generational differences means that the people who are making decisions need to think about a whole lot more than just their own experiences and preferences.

But the presence of generational differences may require more serous responses than simply trying to “project” beyond one’s own situation, which professionals and elected representatives should be doing anyway. The reason it’s more serious is that:

  1. The post-WWII baby boom means that older demographics are significantly over-represented. Hence they punch above their weight in terms of decision-making authority and political representation; but
  2. Ongoing internationalisation means that young people nowadays are more mobile than ever. So if young people don’t get what they want from Auckland, then they may almost as readily go live in cities like Amsterdam and Istanbul.

What these two factors mean, I think, is that if baby boomers abuse their demographic power (which they already are to some extent), then they risk alienating younger generations to the point where  the latter simply leave New Zealand. I think this kind of “demographic purge” is a real risk, and may have already begun.

And the risk is particularly pertinent to the topics discussed on this blog because land use and transport decisions tend to be very long-lasting: The buildings and projects that we invest in now are likely to still be around in 50 years time. Thus the decisions we make now will impact on people who probably can’t even talk yet, let alone vote.

From where I’m sitting this hints at a need for society to investigate the causes of generational differences in our transport and land use preferences. At the same time, we need to think about their implications for the transport and land use decisions that we make – decisions that are, to be frank, mainly being made by older people who won’t be around when the impacts of their decisions are borne out.

At this stage I simply want to highlight the issue, rather than necessarily present solutions. Even so, from where I’m sitting it seems clear that both older and younger generations need to step up and acknowledge some respective responsibilities. In particular:

  1. Older generations – you occupy positions of power due to your experience. But the decisions you make have little bearing on your own life. For this reason, I would encourage you to make decisions not based on the world you want, but the world you think your grandchildren will want. The best way to gain insight into this is, I think, to talk and listen to young people.
  2. Younger generation – you are demographically outweighed. For this reason, each of you becomes relatively more important – so speak up! Where necessary you may have to challenge some deeply held perceptions, e.g. that everyone will always want a car. But being passive will simply mean you inherit a city designed for middle aged baby boomers, and I’m not sure that’s a city you want to live in.

But that’s all I want to say right now – because this post is really just posing the question: What should we do about generational differences in transport and land use preferences?

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  1. After a while off them I’ve spent a very trying week on trains and buses in Welly. I’ve been bathed in cigarette smoke on the station platform, after exiting Welly station to go by foot, exiting Welly station at the bus transfer stops, and when getting off the bus. (I’ve missed vital trains because the buses go too slow through the Golden Mile, stopping at too many bus stops, and too many traffic lights. I can’t see why cars and buses are allowed to slow down the buses at all.)

    I’m not either young or old, but who the hell is going to speak up for the non-smokers?

    I really think the stress of sitting in god-awful traffic in a car is a helluva lot better than the rubbish week I’ve had on PT. As far as I am concerned smokers can all go to hell. I so much want to use public transport, but I can’t put up with the constant assault of tobacco smoke.

    Yet a ban on smoking at public transport waiting areas, ie train platforms and bus stops is all that is needed. It would just be enforcing politeness.

    In the meantime – smokers I HATE you.

    1. Matthew, maybe I’m missing something here but this does not seem to be an appropriate post for the topics you raise?

      1. It’s a bit of a rant, but topic wise, you are asking for policy makers to take into account what people actually want when it comes to a transport policy. And after a week of horrible experiences it is a very pertinent question; who the hell is going to speak up for the non-smokers?

        I am at the point of giving up on public transport because it doesn’t provide me with a safe environment in which to be.

        Why is it so bad? And more importantly what’s getting done about it?

        Where is the national legislation to make public transport a pleasant, smoke-free experience? At the moment it falls so short that I am going to go back to driving. I don’t want to drive. I hate driving. I hate traffic. But I cannot function the way public transport currently works.

        How many people now in their cars have come to the same conclusion?

        1. Smoking has nothing to do with generational shift in transport trends. Please save your personal crusade for a topic in which it is even slightly relevant.

        2. I’ve followed this blog for 3 or so years, and what is a huge issue related to the discouragement of uptake and use of public transport hasn’t been mentioned.Yet you’re a blog about public transport, land use and urban issues. You can go on about timetables, and ticketing and transferring ad infinitum, but mention second-hand smoke or air quality issues and it’s la-la-la head in the sand time. It’s a huge oversight.

        3. Perhaps because it isn’t actually a huge issue discouraging the use of public transport. (at least not for most people, obviously it is a pet peeve of yours). If it is such a huge issue then how come you are the only person to ever mention it? Smoking is an annoyance on PT, like schoolkids yelling and fooling around, or people who have heaps of bags with them. Annoying, but by no means a huge issue.

        4. NIck I think you underestimate its effects. But we don’t know as it seems to be understudied. I would contend that it is probably of some importance. I do know that when asked 40 or 50% want smoking banned in public places like Queen St and Lambton Quay. A large percentage of the population want smoking completely banned from NZ. I would also hazard a guess that the combined effects of smoking at bus stops and on train stations, and the smoke you cop when you have to deal with a crowd in the CBD are suppressing public transport uptake generally, suppressing the CBDs’ economies and is part of the secret of Westfield’s success. If I was setting up a business I wouldn’t choose the CBD, I would choose some suburban business park. Life is actually a helluva lot more pleasant if you drive to a subsidised carpark and have leafy surrounds without a haze of pollution to walk through when you get on and off your bus or train. So I would even argue that ubiquitous tobacco smoke leads to urban sprawl.

          No not everyone is like me, but I’m not in any way unique either.

          I don’t think you’d let me do a guest post, but someone should think and write about it. Why not even be brave and ask people to comment on a blog post and ask them “Is exposure to second hand smoke an issue with you when you use public transport?” You might even let me say what I think without having a whinge at me.

          Go on. Let your readers educate us all.

  2. Stu,
    It’s hard to know where to begin to answer a post of such mind boggling inanity.
    Yes there has been comment lately on so called generational differences which is a complete beat up imho. These “generational differences” are what exactly? All people born between certain dates think in a certain way? This is obviously and demonstrably not true.
    When I came to Auckland in 1975 as a young man in his early twenties, I was forced (and I use the word advisedly) into buying a car. PT was such that I simply could not get where I wanted to go without a car. I gave up my car some years ago and am now car-less even though I am one of the evil baby boomers you castigate in your piece. And yes, you do cast unfair and untrue aspersions on all people because of their age. The transport mess that is Auckland was set in place by the generation before mine. They were most likely trying to divine what the next generation wanted as you want to do.
    This generational divide you so eagerly talk up is a useful diversion for those in power: divide and rule it is known as and it would be useful if one stopped dividing people into groups according to arbitrary definitions such as age, sex, race or whatever.
    Can we not set aside this very divisive mind set you seem to adopt and get back to working together for all our benefits? This adds zero to what I have always assumed to be the purpose of this blog, which is to promote better transport solutions and is very likely to turn people of a “certain age” off your campaign.

    1. Harry, I disagree that the post is either pointless, or in some form antagonistic. In my experience there IS a generational difference. Quite obviously that doesn’t apply to everyone – generalisations never fit 100%, or even 70% of all people. But that doesn’t mean that generalisations themselves are bad, or cannot highlight key differences.

      I work with a lot of people in transport decision making positions, and there is a clear difference in average response. Everyone, young or old, feels they are doing the right thing. Stu is asking: should the people in power (who are also, on average, significantly older), make their decisions without including the opinions of younger people? The answer is obviously no – but the perception among the younger set is often that that is exactly what is happening.

      And the mobility of the younger professionals (whether tradespeople or with tertiary education) is well-documented, and in NZ, it is a strong exodus, only partially countered by the odd folks like me or my boss who came here to NZ for job reasons or better weather and decided to stick around! The brain drain is real, and unlilely to have ONLY financial reasons, so discussing it is very valid.

    2. I agree it’s not useful to “divide” people into categories too readily, hence my use of the word “differences”. And yes every person is different, but there are also underlying demographic characteristics. Acknowledging these characteristics is not to say that within a particular generation everyone is the same; there is a lot of variety as you note. I’m talking about issues at the population level here, not commenting on individuals.

      If you don’t believe this topic is relevant or important then you might want to read this article:

      To quote directly from that article:

      The New Zealand demographer Professor Natalie Jackson, director of Waikato University’s Population Studies Centre, has made a sobering forecast for the country: In less than 12 years’ time the numbers of elderly New Zealanders (65 years plus) will exceed the numbers of young people (up to 14 years old). That means New Zealand is facing a youth deficit of crisis proportions, ever more so as its young people continue to flock to Australia. Especially crucial to the country is what happens to the current crop of young New Zealanders, still in the country, aged between 15 to 19. They are, effectively, New Zealand’s last chance generation. In her recent study of the New Zealand’s demographic future, Professor Jackson said: “If just a small proportion of the current 15-19 year old cohort leaves New Zealand and doesn’t return, New Zealand employers will be faced with a labour shortage of crisis proportions.”

      Finally, I can’t understand why you think this post “castigates” baby-boomers, and your defensiveness on this issue is quite telling.

      If anything this post is a call for change in mindset to one that is more inclusive and considerate of other people. Indeed, greater numbers of older people will also impact on our transport solutions. The demographic knife cuts both ways, to ignore these differences seems, well, foolish.

      1. That’s the States but let’s assume it is true for NZ as well… Does this include licenses that have been suspended or cancelled because of road traffic offenses? It certainly wouldn’t include people driving without a license, which is about half the people on the road if TV traffic police reality TV is anything to go by.

  3. I don’t think framing this as a generational difference is that helpful,

    Yes the Baby boom demographic is a significant decision making group, but a better way to promote PT to them is to ask them how they will travel in the next 10 years…..

    PT users tend to be both young and “old” ( ie those over 65) Boomers are now moving into the retirement age and thus will be impacted by their falling income ( compared to when they were working) … saying that this group should talk to young people before they make decisions for only grasps half the issue, they should also consider their future,

    Yes the Boomers have driven the suburban 2 car society, but with their kids now grown up, they are moving out of this phase, they need to consider their future as well as that of others..

    1. I’m sorry you don’t think it’s helpful.

      As someone who works in the transport industry I think this issue needed to be raised. Too many transport professionals rely too heavily on their own preferences when designing solutions, rather than thinking about the preferences of the people who are currently aged 10-20. That is our target market and I think that point has hitherto been lost on many people, which is why I wanted to raise the issue.

  4. its not black and white. it is a spectrum of people with two distinct world views roughly divided by the time in history they became adults. inevitably there will be some straddling both groups. as a young person I will simply flee the country if all the retired folk think im going to pay for their retirement that they didn’t plan for.

    1. Completely agree that it’s not black and white, but the difference in means is statistically significant at the 99% level shall we say? Your suggested response to the demographic imbalance is exactly the response that I fear, which I want to highlight in this post.

  5. The other thing is that public transport is a lot more efficient for us young’uns without kids. Once we settle down and have kids, and need to take them to school, soccer practise, friends’ houses etc I imagine it becomes a lot less attractive. So it’s important to separate out the “life stage” differences from the “generational” differences.

    With that said, there’s certainly a fair whack of evidence suggesting that the younger generation is less hung up on cars than predecessor generations were, as linked in the post. And reason for optimism: our PT network is getting much better, so will be more viable for all users, and people continue to have kids later in life, or fewer kids

    1. When I was a kid I went to school, football practise and friends’ houses on foot or by bike. If kids go to a local school, play football through their school, and have mostly school friends, then you see it all makes sense. That’s why kids shouldn’t be driven to distant schools (and yes why local government schools are better than distant private schools, and that’s before even considering the religious baloney).

      1. Matthew – can I point out that a tiny minority of parents send their kids to “distant private schools”. My kids are within walking distance of their local schools (and they do walk) but friends don’t live particularly close and while some sports and other activities are walkable (and if they are, they do walk), most aren’t. As for biking, the terrain around here isn’t very cycle friendly and personally I think it is fairly suicidal to cycle in Auckland (although I wish it wasn’t) so sadly my kids don’t bike. Feel free to accuse me of bubble wrapping my children…. While our kids are still dependent on us, we are still dependent on a car.

        What I am intrigued about regarding the decline of young people getting licenses is how this could potentially limit employment. Many jobs require a license and certainly in the job I used to do, taking public transport to appointments would not have been viable for many reasons and I sincerely doubt a taxi would have been regarded as appropriate or affordable. Employers may need to adjust their expectations and their job descriptions.

        I also wonder about how less people driving will affect standards (which, let’s be honest, aren’t exactly great now and I make no claims on my own ability in that area). If people rarely drive, will they get out of practice? Example: I was driven by someone not long ago who had to take up driving duties after many years of doing very little (her husband got sick and could no longer drive). She could handle the car fine but things like adjusting speed in different road conditions were not longer a natural thing for her. The trip was a bit scary. Every skill needs practice.

        1. I actually find that I’m a safer driver because I don’t drive all the time. When I do I really enjoy it and am very careful at the same time.

          I think you will find that people will sort themselves out. My company (professional consultancy) has not required employees to have drivers licenses for about 5 years and it’s not a problem. Other industries, where licenses are more important, will probably still require them for the foreseeable future and people looking to work in those industries will know they need a license to do so.

          My Norwegian friend tells me that it’s very unusual for jobs in Norway to require people to have drivers’ licenses if driving is not a core part of the job. So I can’t see that it will take much time for society to adapt to fewer people having drivers licenses.

      1. Although the more pertinent question might be “do they ever get their license?”

        A quick google tend to indicate that yes the % of the overall population with a license in the US ( where your study is from) has fallen, but by nowhere are much as those younger groups, tending to indicate that it is more a delaying of getting a licence rather than not at all.

        Some serious back of an envelope numbers for those between 30 and 34 – in 1970 93% of 30-34yr olds had their license,
        in ’79 it was 97%, in 95 it was 92% , in 2010 it was 90%- if I get some time I might look at the peak license holding ages over the decades

        But in terms of delayed licenses , there are likely to be multiple reasons,
        There is definitely delayed “adult hood” ( children and marriage)
        The age of first mothers rose from 21 to 25.1 between 1970 and 2010
        The age of first marriage rose from 23 to 29 for men and from 20 to 26 for women,
        but also during that same time US urbanisation went from 73% to 81%,

        you could probably also look at fuel and car prices and the general penetration of cars

        for the license info.

        US license data (inc historic) is here

        while population stuff is here

    2. @JohnP: my recent experience of moving into parenthood is completely the opposite.

      I moved to a house near the train, the park and a local town centre because I can’t see how I can otherwise raise a family in today’s climate of high housing prices, global pressure on food prices like we’ve never seen in the west for 60 years or so, and the cost of educating my kids will increasingly fall on them and myself, unlike the pretty much free education my generation had (child of the seventies).

      Am I complaining? No. But I am making smart decisions that are in the best interests of my kids. Sure we have a car. But just one. I’m not daft enough to live in a way that makes me reliant on two cars to have a ‘functioning’ family, although most of Auckland has been built since the war in a way that demands this.

      Time to unwind the many bad decisions made since 1945. Look to the future, cos its not the same as the past. I want my kids to participate in lots of fun stuff; but some of the first things they will learn is how to cross a road, ride a bike, and ride a bus. Like, real young. No SUV cosseting thanks.

  6. My first post here, on this excellent blog.

    I support the intent of Stu’s article, which as it says is to provoke questions.. in the spirit of all good blogs. It’s also timely.. the intergenerational issue is here and isn’t going away. Plenty of media commentary these days, and rightly so. The data presented in the “wealth gap” link is profound. The Economist wrote last week on the boomers’ questionable legacy for younger generations It’s a matter of fact (though also a sweeping generalisation) that the boomers have the weight of numbers, the lion’s share of wealth, are more likely to use their collective voice (vote), and of course dominate decision making / influencing positions. And they drive cars more than generations X or Y and especially Z.

    From an urban planning / transport perspective in particular I think Stu is right to emphasise the long term implications of investment decisions made today. In terms of what to do about it, I agree the younger generations must make their voices heard.. but I doubt this will be via the ballot box (they vote less.. and who represents them?) But, as others have noted here, surely people (not just the young) will increasingly take into account the accessibility of PT (and walking, cycling amenity) when making the decisions they can control.. like on where to live and where to work.. whether in Auckland City of Cars or elsewhere. Meanwhile, we are (all) more or less at the mercy of the boomers.. they have an obligation to consider this issue properly and openly, and at the very least pursue a path of least regrets, in the long term. Present transport policy in NZ doesn’t look like that to me.

    Like TimR, I chose to live near PT routes. My commute is by bus, bike. My children walk, take the bus and train to most places.. and certainly don’t aspire to own SUVs. As an aside, I think car makers have an image problem in young people’s minds: they’re just not cool. Clarkson and co can get a laugh out of all ages, but what’s their brand value? What quality of service does driving a car deliver? The one place you can’t use the Internet in Auckland is behind the wheel of a car.

    1. That Economist article is fascinating; I did not realise the disparity in tax/transfer between different generations was so large. And yes, you are correct in noting that it’s the long term implications of transport/land use decisions that make it ever more important that we apply our minds in recognition of what younger people want.

      Ironically I think many of the people who feel that this post is divisive have made the implicit assumption that I am a member of the so-called “younger generation”. While I am relatively young by many measures, even I currently find myself working on transport projects that will be built only around the time that I retire.

      So actually this is an issue that I am also having to grapple with – what will future generations want from their transport system? I don’t know, but I think it’s an important question to ask and try to answer.

  7. Really good and timely post Stu, on the money. Individuals who do not conform to the general trends of course are there but that does nothing to devalue your central observation.

    There is a general wealth transfer at work to the greedy [my] generation that can be seen across current government policy. Asset sales for example are a policy to transfer collectively held wealth to a subset. And that sunset must, by definition, already be sufficiently wealthy to have spare cash to take part in the the transfer.

    Big Transport investment decisions are all made by middle aged men who are the highest users of the private car. They are simply making a world best suited for themselves. To them it is common sense so will push these decisions through regardless of fact or reason.

  8. Stu, a provocative post (no doubt intentional!) – well done. But I think you’re wrong to say that baby-boomers hold the balance of power; I’m one of those and I’m powerless to do anything much to change the world. You may be alluding to politicians, but many of those are young and green. [See what I did there?]

    A big problem in the western world is reducing birth rates, which in turn leads to the demographic imbalance you reference. So to those who are not yet parents: start producing asap. I’m only half-joking – there are those who think the world would be a better place with a smaller population, but of course the opposite is true (“Go forth and multiply”).

    As for wealth, well of course older people have more wealth, it’s difficult to avoid (although some manage to do so), but it’s largely paper wealth as represented by real estate that can drop in value at any time. The net debtors of the world advocate inflation (QE!), but that will simply exacerbate the problem as the savers will no longer be able to support themselves.

    Older people also tend to downsize over time (their car, their home, their range of travel) as their income dimishes, so their requirements for publicly-funded services also diminishes (with the exception of health services perhaps).

    In conclusion, I agree with you that decisions regarding future housing and transport modes are best made by those who will have to live with them, but let’s be sure they are made for sound demographic and statistical reasons, not on some ideological basis (left or right).

    1. Hi Jonno1 –

      Thanks, I actually did not intend this to be too provocative, but it seems to have hit a nerve with a few folk. I have a habit of doing that, unfortunately. But if people can read between the lines (as it seems you have been able to do) then I think the point is fairly important.

      My point about baby-boomers holding the balance of power was primarily with reference to electoral power. You may not individually be in a position to make decisions, collectively as a group you have a lot of political might. Not only are there fewer youngsters, but they’re not voting – so their political influence is greatly diminished.

      In terms of wealth, just note that the analyses discussed previously look at average wealth between young and old households in two periods. The average wealth of young households has diminished, whereas the average wealth of older households has increased. So *it appears* that there has been an inter-generational transfer of wealth fro m young to old in the last 20-30 years. But it’s complex …

      Completely agree re: avoiding political ideology, right now thought it’s hitting us in the face in the transport sphere and it’s unfortunately all Blue.

      1. Thanks Stu, true, electoral power does come into it, especially if younger people choose not to vote, or vote with their hearts rather than their heads. We older folk in Epsom vote strategically, haha. Not that there’s any discernible difference between the Red and the Blue teams.

        I’m not sure what to make of the wealth transfer thing – we bought our first (very small) house just out of uni at 22 with around 80% mortgage and focussed on paying that mortgage off; if today’s 22 year olds did the same I suspect they’d have the same outcome xx years later. But Gen Y or Z (or whatever we’re up to) seem to have a different approach: spend now, worry later. I’m not saying that’s wrong, just different. However, my kids in their 30s all own their own homes (with mortgages) and are better off relatively than we were, so it can still be done today. It’s all about choices.

        1. Wow. Jonno where in Auckland would a typical 22 year-old buy a house as you suggest? And more importantly, where would they get the $50-100,000 down payment? I think most of them struggle with simply finding a job.

        2. Where? Well Kent, Trade Me alone lists about 1700 houses for sale in the Auckland region in the $300-400k range, plus a few hundred more units and apartments. It shouldn’t be difficult for a young working couple to save $70k over two or three years. OK, maybe not by age 22, and not their dream home, but certainly a starter home by age 30 is achievable, even for a single person. And sure, not if unemployed, but 93% of the workforce is employed, so why focus on the 7%?

  9. How will these generational differences affect NZ taking on $2b of debt dressed up as a PPP for the Transmission Gully Motorway ? The Baby Boomers retiring on lower incomes won’t be happy about paying tolls, and the existing State Highway being downgraded to a local road. Gen Y’s are already reducing their car usage. The bright Gen Z’s will search for better opportunities overseas, mainly in cities with better PT, thus depriving NZ of a tax base to subsidise the PPP road (and support pensions). It will make the present government look foolish taking on debt with minimal economic benefit.

  10. Thanks Stu.
    I think the best definition of sustainability I’ve heard is “not stealing from your children”, and your post touches on these issues.
    In the past you could see conservatism as a counter-weight to the hare-brained ideas of the young. But what if we’re in a new world, where the conservative position (as in “carry on as we have been doing”) is the one that leads to crisis?
    You see this with transport planning, with carbon emissions, with reluctance to raise the pension age.
    Your scenario of the young fleeing to other countries is credible, but it assumes other places are a lot more attractive, and that might not be the case in the next few years if Europe and Australia struggle.
    Also, a few years ago there was the suggestion that baby boomers cashing up as they hit retirement would drive a house price slump:
    Apart from the yucky thought of thousands of cruise ships full of boomers frittering away their capital gains, it does offer some hope for house prices. That said, Auckland’s a great place to live, and domestic migration and immigration will likely take up the slack.
    As for what to do about boomers making bad political decisions- I think we need to be explicit: to pursue policies that burden the next generation is theft.

  11. jonno. what if the young working couple want to have kids and so they know that in the very near future they’ll only have one income? did you and your wife put the kids into daycare at six months? do you think that is the best choice to make? because that is the onlychoice for most young parents in Auckland. I know lots of women who’ve done that recently and its very hard.

    also just wondering where you got the idea most politicians are young and green? actually if you care to look at the nz parliament website you’ll find that the demographic group most over-representeredd in parliament is, as always, middle aged or elderly white men. women are under-represented, most people who identify with a pasifika or Asian ethnicity are under-representd and people under 40 are really badly under-represented. these trends are particularly strong in cabinet which holds almost all political power.

    Auckland council is also very similar in its demographics except it has slightly better PI representation.the local boards
    are even worse, particularly for youth representation.

    as for the board of the CCO s it’s like a kind of who’s who of elderly white men in Auckland.

    1. Hi Lucy, thanks for the critique. Firstly, I said “many” not “most” (it was a poor attempt at a pun, I should have added a smiley face, sorry!).

      Secondly, to add to my response above to Kent, there are at least two factors I overlooked: (1) student loan repayment, which should be a priority, and (2) KiwiSaver, which can be tapped into for a first home. The latter would offset the former to some extent, but not much perhaps.

      I fully agree that the daycare route is very hard, as is the alternative of coping on one income. My children, who now have kids of their own, have all taken the path of stay-at-home mums resulting in fewer material possessions. Now in their 30s they all own adequate homes with mortgages. But both routes are difficult, and I make no judgement either way.

      On to parliament; my view is that a reasonable period – say 10 years – of real-life experience, preferably in business, leads to better outcomes than becoming a career politician at an early age. You may disagree, which is fine. Example from today (just top of mind, not picking on anyone): Shane Jones and Gareth Hughes on Q&A re Antarctic fishing etc. Gareth’s naivety was astonishing, but good on him for fronting.

      I’ll take your word on the ethnic/age/gender makeup of parliament, I simply don’t notice those things and I’m not into quotas, just performance, as politicians are supposed to represent their constituency, not their own cultural subset. Having said that, I see the two outstanding performers currently in cabinet as being Paula Bennett and Judith Collins, both women, one young, one older, one Maori, one not. I’d like to include Hekia Parata in that list, but I can’t! And in the last Labour government Helen Clark was unsurpassed. I have no idea who is on Auckland Council, apart from Len of course, or on the CCO or local boards, but I do know that my rates have blown out, so something’s gone seriously wrong. It must be the fault of all those elderly white blokes.

    2. Just while you’re mentioning the make-up of our parliament Lucy, I also consider it’s not representative of our population. If you did a theoretical make up based on ethnicity I think the white folk in parliament’s eyebrows might lift a bit to realise they are not actually representive of the country, taking Auckland’s diversity into account. But I guess we’re out of sight, out of mind up here. A fair whack of the social welfare spend must go to the Auckland region. Maybe that’s why they don’t want to give us anymore money for infrastructure such as the crl.

      1. I don’t think they would. If you look at the breakdown David Farrar does ( and the ethnicity data from NZ.Stat ( – can’t figure out how to deep-link it) “white folks” are pretty accurately represented, (though other ethnic groups aren’t) and the proportion of Aucklanders is pretty spot-on too. You’d expect that, given how many MPs are elected from geographic electorates.

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