This week the council put online all 9,400 submissions to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP).

I’m going to look at a handful of interesting ones over the coming days/weeks and one has already been picked up on by the media and it comes from the government, submitted by the Amy Adams, the Minister for the Environment.

In the submission the Minister says that “it’s important the PAUP has integrity and robustness, not least because it will be the single largest resource management plan in New Zealand, responsible for enabling or constraining up to 60 per cent of New Zealand’s future growth-based capital investment.” I think that’s an important point to remember in the Unitary Plan discussions. Huge growth is expected to occur in Auckland and it needs to be addressed. Just hoping it won’t happen or trying to implement policies like limiting immigration when the main cause of the growth is simply lots of people being born is head in the sand type stuff.

The submission says that after analysis from her officials she concludes:

Govt submission on UP - Summary of Issues

And her focus is on five specific concerns.

  • Housing Supply
  • Plan Efficiency
  • Plan Integrity
  • Plan Suitability
  • Infrastructure

I’m just going to pick out some key points from each of those.

Housing Supply

While she does talk about the issue of greenfield land she also talks about the restrictions on intensification that have been imposed and in some cases that means the PAUP represents a downzoning on current plans. I also like how she’s noted that there is a huge risk that the underzoning of many areas could lock in sub optimal land use for decades. To me this is particularly the case across the Isthmus area.

Govt submission on UP - Housing Supply

Plan Efficiency

Adams notes that particularly for medium and high density developments the rules are overly complex and inflexible, much more so than they were in the March draft of the plan. She says the March draft had a more widespread presumption towards non-notification and a liberal use of restricted discretionary activity status for higher density development. She also says helps in the plan making the hard decisions about intensification rather than leaving it to the resource consent process. However she says with the PAUP, notification will be much more prevalent. She then basically says the council gave in to NIMBYs by reducing flexibility and increasing development controls despite the draft UP having the tools to ensure better quality urban design. The outcome of all of this will be less medium – high density development.

She even calls out some of the stupid requirements like parking requirements, minimum dwelling sizes and set back requirements. In addition she questions the widespread heritage and significance to Manua Whenua overlays.

Govt submission on UP - Plan Efficiency

Plan Integrity

Perhaps most crucially in this section the Minister says the amount of greenfield land available for development will likely need to increase, particularly if the development restrictions mentioned earlier are not adjusted. However she also notes that increasing greenfield land won’t solve problems simply not everyone wants to live on the edge of the urban area. She also notes that increased greenfield land will place more pressure on the efficient provision of infrastructure.

Govt submission on UP - Plan Integrity

Plan Suitability

Adams calls out three areas where she thinks the plan “oversteps the bounds of what is necessary or desirable in a resource management plan”. These are:

  • Including affordable housing requirements in developments with 15 or more dwellings
  • Sustainable building design provisions
  • GMO regulation


Adams says the plan does not sufficiently provide for Auckland’s infrastructure needs. She says the planning and policy framework may not enable the consenting of major strategic infrastructure anticipated by the government and council. On transport infrastructure she says:

Govt submission on UP - Infrastructure

All up the submission seems fairly accurate and balanced and it’s pleasing to see the government calling out the silly and restrictive provisions that will limit density. My question though is why the government didn’t say anything about this sooner. Further why were government MP’s scaremongering about intensification during the UP debates and pushing people to oppose the plan. MP’s like Maggie Barry were rallying against the plan which assisted in the public opposition from places like the North Shore that led to the down zoning of the plan.

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  1. I should like to point out a flaw in your argument above. You say it’s pointless to try to restrict growth because most is domestic birthrate. Correct.

    However, the estimates I have seen are 1/3 immigration, 2/3 domestic birthrate. So, if you eliminate immigration, you have at least taken 33% of future growth off the market. I am not sure of any fields where eliminating 1/3 of the problem in a single move would be seen as “pointless”; if we could cut the road toll tomorrow by 1/3 wouldn’t you do it? So saying that restricting immigration will have no impact is actually incorrect.

    Secondly, you can also use national-level policies to reduce the amount of growth. If you developed Special Economic Zones, similar to those that China used to stimulate growth in coastal areas, you could set up low-corporate-tax zones in places like Tokoroa, Kawerau, Kaikohe etc – places that are struggling and that are the heartblood of the “real New Zealand.” Allowing growth to continue in Auckland without even *trying* to restrict is is abrogating the responsibility the government has to make NEW ZEALAND (not Auckland) a better place to live.

    In the UK, the Government has forced some central government agencies to locate out of London to stimulate economic growth. I can see that being valuable here too; MSD could be based in Hamilton, MBIE could be scattered through the middle-sized towns etc.

    1. Your argument assumes that
      a) this growth is a bad thing,
      b) we can stop that immigration,
      c) it is desirable to stop the immigration,
      d) we can actually attract people to small towns.

      Particularly d is a problem, you suggest moving some government offices there but that will only ever be a few thousand jobs. How else are you going to attract people to rural NZ? There are about half a dozen people who have come on this blog quite a bit and pushed the idea, none of them ever has a suggestion.

      1. If corporate tax rates were 1% or 5% in the provincial towns (as I said when I mentioned SEZs, which you seem not to have read), you’d see a *flood* to provincial NZ and a revitalisation of the heartland.

        1. So you want to grow the regions by penalising Auckland? By all means we need to improve regional economies but that should not be done in a way that is detrimental to our biggest city and the only one with the scale to compete internationally. Auckland succeeds compared to the rest of the country because it is a place people want to be due to amenity, employment and other factors like the existing networks that can support migrants. Forcing immigrants to other areas will in many cases lead to them having a lower quality of life.

          Also who are you to say small towns are the “real NZ”, that’s insulting to 1/3 of the entire population of the country who you’re suddenly relegating to some sort of lesser status.

          Lastly the scattering of govt agencies isn’t likely to harm Auckland that much but more so Wellington.

          1. “Forcing immigrants to other areas will in many cases lead to them having a lower quality of life”

            Cleaner air, no transport issues, affordable housing, quieter neighbourhoods, a more laid back lifestyle, cheaper prices of everything and easier access to nature is not a lower quality of life.

            I agree that Auckland isn’t an example of “real NZ”. Auckland tends to reflect other nations and cultures more than our own, so much so that in some parts of town you question which country you are in. There’s a restaurant zone in Meadowlands where hardly a single establishment has any signage in english. You won’t find that in heartland New Zealand. Not saying it’s good or bad, but Auckland and the rest of NZ are two quite different places in many respects.

          2. The people who we want to encourage to move to NZ to contribute to a knowledge economy are young, talented and could live anywhere they want. These sorts of people don’t move to NZ to live in a ‘quiet town’, their decision to move here will be based on Auckland and Auckland alone. The Googles, Apples, Yahoos of the world don’t locate themselves in quiet backwaters they locate themselves in attractive urban centres because that’s where their talent pool wants to live. However, perhaps you think we should be encouraging retirees to NZ? In which case I’m sure a tiny quiet town in which Bridge on Thursdays is the social and cultural highlight of the week is a perfect match.

          3. Sorry bbc, but if the country of New Zealand as it is outside Auckland conjures up images in your mind of retirees playing bridge, then you appear to have a very skewed idea of what New Zealand is about, and who its people are.

            As for developing our cities according to the wishes of young foreigners who want to work for IT companies – I find that one of the most bizzare viewpoints I’ve ever read. New Zealand should not sell out its lifestyle or culture for foreigners.

        2. a) would it?
          The labour market still wouldn’t have the economies of scale that Auckland does and the transportation costs for producers would be huge.

          b) Why penalise large cities?
          Larger cities are a catalyst for international investment, surely we would support them instead?

        3. Why apply a taxpayer subsidy to induce businesses to set up where they don’t want to be and where it is inefficient for them to do so? That’s just market interference to make a bad idea look good as long as the subsidy is rolling in.

          The reason Kaikohe is a small rural service centre is because it doesn’t have a large labour pool, nor a large consumer market, nor most of the things a large labour pool and consumer market want out of their lives.

          The best way to improve things for all of New Zealand is to not squander the public purse buying jobs in places where those jobs are naturally inefficient.

          1. So you don’t believe the government should intervene in the economy? I assume you vote Libertarian because if you don’t, you are a hypocrite.
            Can I borrow your copy of Atlas Shrugged sometime?

          2. The government should not intervene in the economy to make it worse! You don’t have to be a la la land libertarian to believe that, you’d have to be a Muldoonist I guess.

            The government should intervene to correct distortions and imperfect markets, or otherwise improving outcomes. I don’t think paying companies to set up in the sticks just because you don’t like the idea of big cities counts as an improved outcome.

            What is the failure in businesses agglomerating where they are most productive? What would we be fixing by bribing them to set up in less efficient areas?

        4. I have ideas for some incentives for getting people to settle in small towns rather than Auckland:

          1. Lets make it so they can buy a house for just $200,000 instead of $800,000

          2. Their commute can be just 5-10 minutes along uncluttered roads rather than 30-60 minutes in traffic

          3. We’ll also have cheap commercial property so they can setups offices and firms

          4. Lots of cheap labour available in the small towns

          5. Internet and cellphones available just about everywhere so nobody is cut off.

          If we just implement all of them then surely nobody will want to live in Auckland and or our problems will be solved.

          1. Simon, let’s say you have a business making widgets.

            You could set up in Auckland. Or you could set up in Kaikohe. In the former you pay 30%+ corporate tax, in the latter, 5%. Over time, more and more manufacturers set up in Kaikohe. And that begets a virtuous cycle… more people move there, the local economy revitalises, etc. You just need a few “anchor” businesses to start the cycle.

            All the naysayers have obviously not studied China because *it worked*

          2. Or you could just let them set up in Auckland where they wanted to in the first place, and collect 30% business tax rather than subsidising the whole operation for three or four decades.

            You obviously haven’t studied the Whitlam scheme in Australia, because that didn’t work. Decades of pouring federal tax funds into regional towns like Albury-Woodonga to try and make them into thriving cities. The small success they had came from the construction and development process. The second the federal handouts stopped the business moved back to Melbourne and Sydney and left the rotting empty infrastructure behind.

          3. Whitlam was a one man disaster- all ego and no substance. He lost his majority in the senate (I think he had confidence stitched up but not supply) rather than call a general election he tried to replace his majority with a partial senate election and got around democratic budget issues by borrowing from Iran. When Kerr sacked him he had the cheek to complain. And his supporters protested the Governor General from that day on.

    2. We have had regional stimulus placements of government agencies for decades…. IRD in the Tron, Manukau,etc. meh. Mainly it just means they have trouble recruiting quality staff.

      Huge gov investment in Christchurch right now. And a massive and wrongheaded nation wide road duplication project. As for ‘stopping’ immigration; you might be good at sums, but do tell how that could work…. Does that include returning Kiwis? Nations we have bilateral treaties with?

      1. They can immigrate, but they can’t settle in Auckland. That would not put us in breach of any treaties. And it would have major benefits.

          1. Easy, you just need an internal passport system, just the ticket for forcing people to live in places they don’t want to be. Worked for Soviet Russia, works amazingly in North Korea.

          2. Benefits: Auckland’s cancerous growth slows. Provincial NZ grows. Think NZ not Auckland. Stop being parochial.
            Mechanisms: All house-owners and lease-holders need to be registered.

          3. ‘Auckland’s cancerous growth’

            What does this mean? Is Auckland killing New Zealand? Really? How so? Please explain what is bad about the thriving Auckland economy? Would the rest of the country really be doing so well without the Auckland market to sell to? I think you need to show some basis for your assumptions before anyone will treat your conclusions with any seriousness.

          4. Patrick, I want you to drive from Auckland to Wellington stopping at every small town in the way.
            NZ is halfway dead.

          5. I spend plenty of time out of Auckland, and all over the country, I am familiar with a lot of its conditions. But so what? You still haven’t showed how growth in Auckland makes other places worse.

            Limiting one place will not automatically benefit another. Auckland is our biggest market squeezing it out of spite is more likely to harm economic activity in the rest of the country than benefit it.

          6. An analogous proposition would be to cripplr the US economy so that the rest of the world succeeds instead. Worked really well in 2008.

            Small towns are dying economically because in an era of globalisation the scale of labour and customer pools is a larger attractor than cheap land.

    3. Never knew we were Communist China nor Soviet Russia here.

      Patrick is right that we have had regional stimulus for a very long time now to mixed (but usually negative) effects.

      Why do people come to Auckland?

      Economies of Scale you get when in a (Beta Class) International City. There is nothing stopping people moving out to the provinces on their own accord. The same applies with Industry as we already have the State Highways and (well for Taupo north) the rail system that they can latch on to to move the goods around.

      That said we need to be a bit more proactive to see if we can establish quality satellite centres along the State Highway network and rail lines between Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton to help share the load. Especially as Heavy Industry will often seek out large parcels of cheap land near quality infrastructure when land values get to expensive within the City itself.

  2. Actually, and here’s a policy you might like….
    All current residents of Auckland could receive an on-street parking permit. All future residents would not get one.

    1. Why would someone like that? Gross market distortion and means that no one can drive anywhere without paying even if supply is abundant?

          1. Ahh, VIBRANT. The least defined adjective ever, and one usually used to mean “street markets, open-air cafes, open-air movies, thriving retail zones.” Basically a middle-class wet dream. Vibrant for who? It’s a result of the middle-class seizing control of the means of communication… the world’s most liveable city has to favour the working-class, the people who can’t afford to sip lattes in a cafe, who can’t take the time off to watch open-air movies (in an ironic fashion).

            And I’ll tell you now: Auckland will not be more “attractive” if it grows much more. Even now subdevelopers are slashing down trees to put up 3 McMansions on a single lot. One of the reasons we need intensification (tall apartments) is to protect our green space. But eventually even vertical growth won’t be enough to protect the greenery that makes Auckland unique.

            And Auckland has gone backwards in the last decade. Look at sporting results – it’s a “canary in the mine” indicator of civic pride and competitiveness.

          1. Because the growth will destroy that which makes Auckland unique.

            I have a simple metric I use to measure liveability
            Average property size/ average property price / average commute time

            Basically a liveable city is one where we can live on decent sized blocks so the kids can play out back, where it doesn’t cost the earth, and where we can get to work quickly.

            Public transport plays a MASSIVE part in this, which is why we need more of it. But we shouldn’t let a love for PT turn us into an ideologically unwise embrace of middle-class urbanism

          2. So the most livable place in New Zealand is, what, Gore? Invercargill? Motueka?

            There are dozens of small towns where you can get ‘decent’ (which I assume means big) plots of land for very cheap where you can get to work in a few minutes. Glad to hear we’re world leaders in livability already, just interesting how nobody wants to live in these such livable places.

          3. To maximise your index let’s make everyone live as they did 120 years ago, in shacks on large cheap farms.

            I live in a small but comfortable apartment 5 minutes walk from my work. It’s 2014, and my life has never been better.

  3. There is absolutely no point in shifting government departments to economically depressed areas, it is just a band-aid to regions that economically collapsed. The provinces need help to develop private industry, not more welfare by a different name. Before Rogernomics laid waste to the provinces, PDL Industries made plastics in Hastings, Hill’s hats made hats in Levin, Norsewear was manufactured in Norsewood, Sergeant Dan and the Cremota factory was the symbol of Gore… The list goes on and on and on. We need to make some actually hard economic decisions, not ones that come hedged with the caveat that you can’t upset property speculators in the Auckland mortgage belt. A more managed (and lower) exchange rate. Fair trade not free trade. special investment incentives – yes, subsidies – to locate business in the regions. If there are decent jobs paying good wages (rather than the hollowed out service based economies that now exist) in the regions there will be a stampede out of Auckland of the breeders who don’t want to pay ridiculous house prices or never see their kids because they need to have two incomes and work a combined 100 hours a week just to stay afloat.

    1. Which is why I suggested dropping the corporate tax rates in the heartland so the industrial businesses move there.

      1. Ah, see if I were to propose lowering the tax rates to favour green businesses I would be a socialist, yet when you propose lowering tax rates to favour rural residents it is sensible fiscal policy.

          1. Are you the naive socialist that believes that competition is always imperfect and that the market can never make the right choices, such as where to live and set up business for their maximum gain?

            The trouble with a lot of classical socialism is that it ignores the economy altogether rather than trying to make it more equitable. Or that it tries to make everything the same rather than allowing personal choice. Your proposal is an example of both.

            You ignore the economies of scale that occur in cities, cities by definition are the sparsity of space and that density allows interactions that can never occur in rural settings. The denser, and larger a city, the more pronounced the effect.

            You also propose that we ‘rescue’ the small towns in New Zealand so that they can all be small provincial towns, by forcing Auckland to remain an outgrown provincial town at best and Detroit at worst. What about kiwis who want to live in a cosmopolitan city, or a smaller rural town, can they just get stuffed because your lifestyle choice is better?

  4. Auckland house prices are hundreds of thousands higher than elsewhere in NZ. That doesn’t put people off Auckland so not sure what would – or even that it’s desirable to restrict Auckland’s growth.

  5. “…or even that it’s desirable to restrict Auckland’s growth…”

    NZ is a major outlier in the unbalanced influence of one city on it’s economy amongst developed countries. NZ needs a vibrant, “proper” city to attract and retain young people but it also needs more balance in it’s economy. My view is a country with two million in Auckland and four million elsewhere would be the Goldilocks population numbers and distribution…

    “…What would this policy reduce the growth off.,.?”

    Probably property prices, financial services, currency speculation and rentier’s un-earned profits.

    1. No it isn’t.

      New Zealand is comparable to the Australian, and many of the US states in this regard, Malysia, Japan, and most of the European countries are similar (especially the U.K.). The only reason that we are an outlier as a country is that we are a small country, more comparable to the states/regions of other countries.

    2. A much more effective way to rebalance housing costs in Auckland would be to make housing less attractive as an investment vehicle by putting in a capital gains tax, as the market is dominated by investors at the moment. The lack of one is an oddity amongst developed countries. This would channel more money into businesses, where it’s a much more effective vector of developement – this, together with changing zoning rules to make them more flexible and allow developers to build low rise apartment buildings in most places (thus increasing housing supply) is the most sensible way to attack the problem. The fact that the current population of voters (I’m including myself there) is riding the housing wave makes it a bit difficulit to pass, but you can tell that the politicians who try putting this measure forward (ie labour) have their heart and head in the right place.

      1. A good 2/3 of Auckland property is owner occupied, therefore it is not “dominated” by investors.
        We already have a CGT on property sold by Dealers and Speculators
        Treasury have suggested a more comprehensive CGT on all houses including the family home, could help lower prices, but it’s hardly politically sellable and hasn’t prevented boom bust property cycles overseas. It would need to be on all houses due to the large proportion of owner occupiers.

        Heritage provisions prevent development in many areas near the CBD. Old does not correlate with warm, draft free, well built, layout fitting a modern lifestyle, etc. The pre 1944 rule is not going to help.

        1. Maybe the word was badly chosen, but it doesn’t take a large amount of people with different goals and bigger means to skew the market and push prices up. The fact is, it is skewed. I don’t dispute the general lack of political appetite for pushing for a generalised capital gains tax, but this is precisely what has to be fought. Allowing the next generation of kiwis to access homeownership is just the right thing to do, whether current homeowners like it or not.

        2. The market is those currently buying or selling not those who bought a house 15 years ago and plan on living in it another 15 years. Probably it is dominated by people buying to make money rather than those just wanting a home. The tax system actually encourages this and it is rational for people to participate. Hardly anyone pays tax on gains at the moment because our gains are just “fortuitous”. Amazing that we all have such good fortune! A comprehensive CGT on all assets would simply reflect the principle that all income should be subject to tax (or none). To make it politically acceptable you have to reduce other taxes by the same amount.

      2. I am not opposed to a CGT and think it should be brought in but more for fairness than actual results. I mean that this is basically income so why shouldnt tax be paid.

        In saying that, a CGT didnt stop rampant speculation in the UK or Australia – so it isnt the panacea people seem to think it is.

        I actually think we should be looking at making renting more attractive for families. This needs to be done by making the Residential Tenancies Act more restrictive for owners so that tenants have more long term security of tenure and also on rent rises. Germany is a great model for that.

        Our obsession with owning is a large part of the problem and that is understandable when a landlord can just kick you out any time.

        1. I’m not sure I agree with that. In France, there’s all sorts of extra protections in place too for people who rent which translates to landlords sometimes facing up to a year before they can get rid of a tenant who doesn’t pay them, with little hope of getting any of their dues back. The balance here seems pretty good to me, 3 months is not a short time to find a new place to live in Auckland, and the whole process is administratively very light compared to what it is in Europe, which is awesome. I think NZ strikes a good balance and I’ve always found it great how easy it was to move places here. All these extra protections we have in Europe cramp up the system and make landlords very cautious about who they rent to, which means when you’re a student, you have to have several people of your family (usually 2) take joint responsibility for any unpaid dues at the beginning of a tenancy, or they won’t even consider you. That is, in places where demand is high like Paris or cities with large student populations. finding a flat to rent in Paris is an absolute nightmare because of this and stiff competition (not enough offer for too much demand).

          1. You will note that I said we should follow Germany on this point.

            From my experience of living in France, I wouldnt suggest that we follow anything that is doen in France. I lived in Normandy (Le Havre, Rouen, Caen) and it was one of the most auto dependent and badly run places I have ever lived (inclduing Eastern Europe). It is no coincidence that “bureaucracy” is a French word.

  6. I’ve long thought that NZ is more like an Australian state than many other whole countries. Victoria: 2013 population 5.7mil. Melbourne 4.3mil. Is this unbalanced? Looks it, does it matter? Seems to do ok.

    I guess it means the population are not inefficiently spread out all over the land giving it all one quality and leaving none of it still properly wild. Cities are efficient, and bigger ones more efficient. And staying out of the countryside is the best way to preserve it.

    The only real problem as I see it is that the government wants to force Auckland to try to still be like a provincial town, only wanting to allow us to invest in car infrastructure and won’t let us spend our money on properly city-shaped and city-sized systems.

    Isn’t the whole country likely to prosper more when all the parts are able to grow into the best shape for their scale?

    1. I think that it is also important to note that in an age of globalisation we are competing against international cities for investment, we need a beta+ city to do that, and Auckland is that city. Realistically we are just as connected to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane as they are to eachother, we are part of an international region in which Auckland is a subregional centre.

      1. What is this “compete” idea? Basically you’ve been so captured by capitalist ideology the only thing you see is the GDP generated by a city. Cities aren’t businesses.

        1. Compete for concerts, festivals, employment, tourists.

          Also, pretty hard to be a really liveable city when you are poor. Ask people from Durban how liveable it is.

          1. Employment, yes.
            But tourism turns us into a service-driven slave economy.
            And concerts and festivals are “panem et circenses”, not “liveability”

            I am imploring you to take off your bourgeois goggles and imagine you live in Manukau and work as a cleaner in town.

          2. So what if tourism is service driven? If you live in a city with high wages, then tourists pay higher fees to cover the wages in the industry, hardly rocket science. A rising tide lifts all boats, so long as we don’t damn the water.

            Concerts and festivals are bread and circuses, but why is that not liveability? Are you saying that proximity to events isn’t a driving factor in where you live? I’ve lived in small towns that don’t have major events and it’s boring as anything, my quality of life is improved knowing that I can go to Katy Perry, or Coldplay or BDO without leaving my home town.

            Bearing in mind that my Mother is a low wage worker in the city it’s hardly difficult for me to imagine that position. My mother also wants Auckland to become larger, with dense nodes of activity that are only possible in large cities, and exciting night life, and an array of opportunities for her children so that we don’t have to move to Europe to have the housing typology that we want.

            You don’t get to claim that you speak for the lower classes as a moral high ground when you can’t even demonstrate that your proposition is better for those groups.

    2. Efficent, but highly destructive. The efficiency you refer to externalises many costs onto the environment, and requires the deaths of millions of fellow human beings because the only way we can get what we need from them at an affordable level is to keep them in poverty for our benefit. Cities have a long and bloody history of this. In the pre-globalisation era the externalising was more obvious to the inhabitants of the city, as it took place in the immediate vicinity. Everyone could see the slaves.

          1. But that is very little to do with cities. The latte in Napier appeared just as easily as the one in Ponsonby.

            What is a city for you Geoff? I mean Rome was 1m or so people but until 150 years or so ago a “city” was anything over 5,000. Should we all be living in villages of 100 people to meet your expectations? Have you ever been to a village like that at a subsistence level? My mother in law grew up in one and wild horses couldnt drag her back.

            Where is your proof that cities cause more damage? That is certainly not true when compared to a person in a rural area living in an industrialised country. Each rural person consumes a lot more energy per capita (which is what it is all about) for the same standard of living than city people living densely.

          2. Indeed the problem prevails throughout the western world, not just in the cities. But the problem is greater in cities, as generally people in cities are more reliant on services and infrastructre than someone living rural, who generally do more for their own survival than the average city folk. The less you do yourself, the more you externalise.

          3. More made-up nonsense. Rural living, outside of true subsistence communities, are per person, much more resource hungry, inefficient, carbon intensive, and also not scaleable to accommodate city dwellers.

            We cannot all live dispersed around the countryside without consuming much more of it. Your prejudices are not based on fact. City living has the smallest impact on the environment. Furthermore it creates the market that makes countryside economies viable.

          4. Bollocks, rural living is far less reliant on services and infrastructure, everything is cheaper, and environmental impact is lowest. People do a lot of things locally that city dwellers will get from far away and use a lot more energy to do so.

          5. That book is pretty much irrelevant to the kiwi rural lifestyle.

            BTW, rural folk drive less than city folk, because A) More of what they do is at home, and B) Distance encourages fewer but more worthwhile journeys.

            I don’t base my view on “feelings” – I base it on experience. Spend a week in Motu Patrick, and you’ll see how individuals and a community gets on by living off the land more, relying on transport less, and requiring almost nothing in the way of infrastructure. Much cheaper, much more sustainable, and healthier for the planet and its inhabitants.

          6. Geoff, some individuals live low impact lives in all sorts of places, even in the most wasteful spatial order yet devised: Suburbia, but that doesn’t mean that the sum do. The vast majority of rural lives involve a great deal of external inputs, that, per person adds up to a less sustainable pattern. Your personal observations of some people does not describe an entire sector.

            Anyway. What on earth you propose; everyone move to the country? Not possible. The city and country need each other. What is expendable, and will improve or vanish this century, is suburbia. That half-way house between good low impact dense living and the productive countryside, that mostly fails to have the virtues of either.

          7. Ah, no, suburbia will not be disappearing this century. Most towns and cities in New Zealand do not have intensification goals, as they have avoided the things that lead to a need to intensify. Remember, intensification is the result of problematic planning, such as putting tens of thousands of jobs into a small landlocked area for the benefit of corporate giants, to the detriment of society who face resulting transport congestion or ever increasing prices for ever decreasing home sizes. This is why it’s really only Auckland that tried to intensify, as only Auckland has been silly enough to promote plans that cause these problems. Most towns and cities in NZ protect their lifestyle by having planning restrictions that prevent large scale land and transport issues from developing.

            There will be a lot more suburbia in New Zealand in 2100 than there is today. I agree that’s a shame, but for different reasons than yourself.

          8. “rural folk drive less than city folk”

            That is an even more outrageous claim than the previous one. Rural dwellers would surely drive further because al of the things that they need are further away, it is simply an extension of the logic that suburbanites drive more than urbanites.

            If you don’t think that suburbia as we know it will be gone by 2100 then I would love to know how you think we can retain in without cheap fossil fuels.

          9. Suburbia is already dead, most of it just doesn’t know it yet. Oh of course what that means is Auto-dependant Suburbia. Suburbia is like cholesterol, there’s good and bad versions. The bad is the monotonal, single-use, auto-dependant type which is unsustainable [literally meaning; not able to be sustained]. These suburbs will either mutate into real places or wither, only the most resent ex-urban areas may actually return to farmland or wilderness.

            And it’s not a question of policy; it’s economics.


          10. Nope, you’re thinking like a city dweller, i.e., get all your stuff from somewhere else. You associate everything with transport, whereas rural folk do a lot of things at home. There are people in the country who go months without visiting a town. Only townies need towns 🙂

          11. Wrong Patrick, go live in Napier for a while and see how alive suburbia is. Absolutely no signs of dying whatsoever. And all new development is suburban-based. It’s what people want.

            Your quoting of overseas books with no relevance to NZ is interesting – you might want to ask yourself why you have to keep referring to far away places rather than the actual country we are in! Suburbia IS the kiwi way. Deal with it 🙂

          12. I give up Geoff; your ignorance is only matched by your closed minded stubbornness. If you think you can understand the future, let alone the here and now, without considering events that are further away than the end of your nose you’re even more delusional than your comments here betray.

          13. Put it this way Patrick – if you lived in Napier, you would be the only person there who believes suburbia is dying.

            There’s absolutely no evidence for what you say, in such a place.

          14. Geoff, I struggle to understand why you actually live in Auckland. Seems like you really want to be somewhere else.

          15. Bryce, I don’t live in Auckland (we are talking inner city living here). It takes a special kind of insanity to throw your money down the toilet like that 🙂

          16. Is it the kind of insanity that puts 3 supermarkets, a cinemas, the trains station, ferry terminal and but interchanges. 100s of restaurants, dozens of gyms, speciality shops 100s of clothing retailers, 10,000’s of jobs, my place of study half a dozen parks, my favourite pizzeria, dozens of nightclubs and bars all within ten minutes walk of me?

            That seems like a good kind of insanity.

  7. totally agree with your comment on inadequate (sub)zoning for the isthmus – especially the suburbs closest to the city centre, Parnell, Epsom, Mt Eden, MT Albert, Kingsland, Sandringham, Arch Hill, Grey Lynn, Ponsonby and Herne Bay – these should all allow low rise apartment building to be built everywhere. and there is no good reason for it being so rigid. This is where most people want to live to be close to where they work. Another silly barrier is the designation as ‘historic’ of large swathes of theses suburbs. This sort of protection should only be allowed on a case by case basis to individual buildings which should ideally be publicly owned. That would reduce the undue hindrance on development.

    1. Yep, I’m not sure when it happened but suddenly every inner city suburb is a heritage zone.

      If Ponsonby/Grey Lynn were still working class suburbs, the (terrible) villas would be ripped down and replaced with apartments tomorrow. However now they’ve gentrified, the houses are classic heritage villas which must remain for eternity.

      1. Because New Zealand has little history, and some of that has been already lost. As a result, we’ve rushed in to declare everything emotionally important (“historical”). This includes houses built in the 20th century of which there are tens of thousands in Auckland alone.

        However, as we have already seen, things which are of genuine historic value because they have strong significance in a particular dimension but which fail the age test are very vulnerable. I think we protect things which have little historic value, and are willing to demolish things that have plenty.

  8. I think I should add the following:
    1. I think Auckland needs MORE intensification. Rather than 70:30 we should aim for 100% growth within the existing RUB and as much of that should be brownfields.
    2. However the amount of growth we need should be reduced
    3. We need to protect every tree, every field, every park.
    4. Public transport is vital as it is space-efficient.

    So my “wet dream” would be a worker-friendly Auckland of the same size as today (1.5m), with quicker, faster PT, and if possible more parks, trees, and fields.
    Alongside that, revitalised provincial towns of 50-100k where people like myself could live because there are jobs available. I’d LOVE to reduce Auckland’s congestion by one car.

    1. Agree with you my Lord. But being on the worker’s side in this era is like being communists since the political field has shifted so much to the right that labour is basically an old school conservative party. I for one would move away from Auckland tomorrow if I could find a job that would pay me enough somewhere else.

    2. Not sure if too many stagnant cities around are great places. Also tough to find balance of stable versus declining. Better to be us than Detroit.

    3. Those large towns of 50-100k population barely survive now. They are nearly self-sufficient for their internal needs, but businesses within them never grow to any real scale so wages plateau and staff (and youth) move away for better opportunities. Eventually those towns die, because they cannot attract outsiders in sufficient numbers to replace the migrants. It’s the story of all the old farming/forestry towns that are dwindling away to nothing because they’re too far from a major centre to be a dormitory and lack the internal mass to be self-sustaining.

      BP is in the process of moving its head office from Wellington to Auckland. Not all the staff want to leave Wellington, for various reasons. You blithely suggest that businesses be given incentives to move to the hinterland, as though the staff will magically follow; they’ll pack up and leave behind their friends, their communities, often their extended families, and move to a place which lacks the entertainment and social possibilities of a big city. People won’t leave a mid-sized city for a large one. What on earth makes you think people will leave a large city for dinky wannabe one?
      It only takes a small number of key personnel to refuse to move to make relocating a company a risky proposition. Toss in the much smaller pool of employment talent and the reduced opportunities with which to attract people away from their existing locations – you cannot just offer people more money if they will have nothing on which to spend it – and you’re on a hiding to nothing.

      Your drivel is grounded in illogic and nothing more. You talk of forcing immigrants to live outside Auckland. Sure, that’ll work for as long as it takes them to gain permanent residency or citizenship and then they’ll move to Auckland because I doubt there’s much support for introducing internal movement restrictions more broadly than just for those who have work permits only. The experience from Australia is that most people will spend precisely as long outside the major centres as is required and then they’ll up sticks and go to their original destination: the big cities. It’s not a long-term fix. There is no long-term fix. If the country’s population grows, Auckland grows. Either accept it and work out how to stop that growth from strangling the city, or leave. There is no other choice that has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding without draconian measures that will never be accepted by the NZ population; this is a country where people resisted getting a driver’s licence with a photograph on it because they saw it as a precursor to a national ID card.

      1. So all of those workers in every mining town around the world don’t exist, because nobody would ever move from a big town to a “dinky wannabe one”

        1. All the mining towns in Australia are staffed by migrant workers who do a two week your then fly out to Perth or elsewhere to take their days off. None live there permanently, nobody wants to.

      2. In my experience, immigrants who move to Auckland usually desire moving on to smaller towns and cities. That’s the lifestyle they come here for, not to live in some shanghai or New York wannabe. And of course a lot do actually go straight to small town NZ, as most of the country’s skilled labour jobs are outside Auckland.

        Legislating for immigrants to have to settle outside Auckland will lead to more businesses basing themselves outside Auckland, and over time there will be a better balance of business and population across the country. Continuing to cram more into one small area is a failure, and unecessary in a country with so much space.

        1. “a lot do actually go straight to small town NZ” – citation?

          If that is true then I dont understand what you and Lord Math are complaining about. Sounds like what you want is already happening.

          Of course it isnt, but facts have never bothered you apparently.

        2. That’s funny, pretty much all of my mates who are immigrants (and myself) tried small town living and hated it, hence we are in the only city of scale in NZ.

          1. Not to mention all the “immigrants” to Auckland who are Kiwis from small-town NZ originally.

        3. People wanting to start businesses aren’t going to move to a small town where there’s no demand on the off-chance that it’ll take off, for not least of which reasons is that the smaller population likely means it won’t take off. Established businesses aren’t going to willingly move a long way from their existing sites on the off-chance that their key staff will all want to move away from the amenities of the big city. Even moving from a mid-sized city to a large one doesn’t see all staff move, per my extemporaneous BP example, and Auckland offers much more of most things than does Wellington; about the only things that Wellington has that Auckland doesn’t are a functional train system, the Sevens, and Te Papa. Auckland has better beaches, a better climate, more in-built green space, more suburbs that feel like communities, more arts and cultural facilities, more high-performing schools, etc etc. You don’t get any of those in small towns as a whole package, even if you can get the first three in some combination or other.

          As for the mining towns, as observed they’re not a long-term home to people. Hell, some people have their homes in NZ and just fly over to the camps for their rostered shift weeks. That’s about the most antithetical example of the boonies being attractive that one could posit.

          1. Matt, they wouldn’t have any choice if a new government makes it compulsary to settle outside Auckland (Labour have suggested they may do that). It’ll be that, or don’t come to NZ, which either way will ring fence Auckland’s growth related issues, and make the city more manageable.

          2. Brother has chosen Tauranga as the new location for their Head Office. Cheap labour and a nice beach lifestyle for the management

  9. Instead of declaring “there’s going to be huge growth and here are some problems it will cause for us to struggle with” we should be saying “let’s avoid the huge growth and avoid causing the problems that we will struggle with”.

    Hopefully Labour becomes the next government and implements its proposed policy of requiring immigrants to settle outside Auckland, so that growth is spread across the entire country evenly, in small and manageable quantities, and hopefully for the bigger picture the human race will come to understand the stupidity of seeing growth on a finite planet as being a good thing, when it’s clearly not.

    1. Auckland’s still experiencing economies of scale, i.e. increase in population density/scale is associated with higher wages, GDP.

      The negative externalities you point to, while certainly real, are probably better managed through a combination of targeted national-level policies, e.g. water quality and vehicle emissions standards, and regional planning, such as that being pursued by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport.

      You don’t need to choke off Auckland’s socio-economic development to protect the environment. And diverting population growth to small cities/towns elsewhere will likely result in overall increase in energy consumption, for the reasons pointed out to you in earlier posts. Which you choose to ignore …

      1. Other areas already have resources available, that Auckland doesn’t. Do you realise that water is essentially free outside Auckland, such is the abundance. It’s a stark contrast – water in Auckland is expensive, water outside Auckland is free (covered by rates). You can fill your swimming pool in Napier without spending a cent. In Auckland it would set you back hundreds of dollars. So it makes sense to redistribute immigration to places better set up to handle it, which Auckland isn’t, although it would do better if it ceased silly policies such as putting all the jobs in one small landlocked zone. Decentralisation is the key to avoiding big city problems such as high housing costs and transport congestion.

          1. There’s zero cost for extra water usage outside Auckland. You could leave your tap running enough to fill an olympic sized swimming pool, and be charged nothing for it. n Auckland you would be charged thousands of dollars. Auckland is a rare case of demand outstriping supply, so its charged for at much higher levels to reduce usage. Outside Auckland people don’t receive water bills.

          2. Residents of Hutt City are metered. Hamilton is looking at residential metering. Businesses in many places are metered.
            As usual you’re generalising for the country based on what appears to be a very limited knowledge of anything.

          3. South Wairarapa District Council charges $1.84 per cubic metre.for usage over 350m3 per annum.

          4. Tauranga has meters, and Kapiti from next month…

            But most (all?) urban councils charge for mains water explicitly on your rates bill. Except they charge a flat rate for a pipe of a given diameter, regardless of usage. It’s still not “free”, just a different pricing structure.

        1. Also, those places that don’t meter their water resources are now having to stump up for expensive water systems replacement from general rates, and it’s stinging. That’s why Hamilton is looking at metering; their water treatment plant needs a major upgrade to handle all the growth that’s happened since it was constructed, along with the increased pollutant levels upstream which need to be handled for the water to be safe.

  10. It would be hard to implement a better regional development policy than the one already in place – prohibit the construction of housing in the parts of Auckland people want to live, and continue to only invest in Roads to ensure Aucklanders have no option other than to drive.

    1. +1, Auckland already succeeds in spite of everything we are doing to stop it, what more could one possibly try?

  11. All this talk of Auckland being a “huge city” and unsuitable for further growth. . . .
    Auckland’s population is TINY compared to most countries’ premier cities. It could double and still be considered small. As long as in doing so it doesn’t also double in land-area and highway-mileage. In this respect Auckland is already “too big for its population”..

    1. If Cathy Casey opposes it, it’s probably a sensible idea.

      Seems silly to not create some housing there would be a pretty central location on a large site, hemmed in by large roads so the height doesn’t effect neighbours.

  12. Mr Math and Mr Blackmore raise the admirable sentiments of protecting our precious natural environment and countering the corrosive conspicuous consumption so heavily promoted in much reality TV and most blockbuster flicks.

    It is good we are reminded of the fact that our materialism respires through the exploitation of the third world, its people and natural environment.

    Cities of course massively increase efficiencies (agglomeration), however they too often do so at the expense of the environment and the sad nature of many cities is to remove people from the natural world. The result being they are disconnected from it and desensitised to its destruction.

    The simple fact is:
    a) There are too many of us
    b) Of these too many a small proportion consumes far more than their share at the sickening expense of the rest
    c) The rest, now almost wholly indoctrinated in the capitalist ideal, are furiously hurrying to catch up. A vicious cycle has been achieved and it will be our collective downfall.

    Any this is all waayy off topic and clealry all greenie-commie rubbish.

    Whilst I type away on my high-end recent-model laptop, comforted by a glass of Pinot and cocooned in my inner-Auck quarter acre suburban home. Hypocriticism is bliss.

    My proposed solution is twofold:
    1) Recognise humans cannot be trusted to govern themselves. Under urgency develop and install a theocratic benign artificial intelligence rulership.
    2) Similarly a Manhattan-esque project to acquire teleportation; no more pesky transportation issues, nor need for concrete jungle cicties etc


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