17: A Greater Auckland?


What if we felt like we lived in an Auckland that was greater than the sum of its parts?

This is perhaps one of the reoccurring themes in my 100 days project. It reflects the public discussion and debate happening in Auckland around our future growth challenge, and how best we should invest public money in supporting that growth and our existing communities.

The parochialism of old Auckland was notorious. It was one contributing reason for the governance reforms and creation of the one council.

Only being concerned with one’s own lot in life is not a great basis upon which to debate the future of a city. Neither is only being interested in one’s own patch of the city to the extent of actively fighting against investment or even just change in other parts of the city. These aspects of Auckland seem to relate to a deeper issue around the way this city has grown and developed over time.

It says a lot about the urban geography of Auckland; how the way we have shaped the city then shapes how we feel about each other and the city in which we all live. How do we view a sense of a community? Do we relate to any sense of a greater Auckland, or not? Is there any sense of an Auckland that is greater than the sum of its parts? And what might this all mean for our future?

Arguably one of the best things that has happened through the creation of the one council has been a growing sense of one Auckland While we won’t always and shouldn’t always speak with one voice, a common understanding that we are generally better off together than apart seems a good basis to understanding of why we are all here together living in and around this beautiful Tamaki Makaurau.

Waterfront crowds_8068

Events and public festivals and celebrations that attract big crowds from right across Auckland are one of the few occasions where we all have the opportunity to come together and have a sense of being a part of and connected the other 1.5 million odd residents in this increasingly diverse city.

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  1. My response would be that we should feel our identity as New Zealanders, not Aucklanders.

    The “city” is a primitive concept – 2500 years old. The nation state, in its modern form and glory, is about 600 or so (using the Treaty of Westphalia as a decent starting point). In the nation state rest the wondrous concepts of patriotism etc., whereas the city, for most of its history, has been at best an economic engine. We say “za rodinu”, not “for the city”, and we definitely don’t sacrifice ourselves for Detroit.

    As such, I don’t think that feeling oneself a “Hendersonian” or a “Westie” is any more parochial than feeling oneself an “Aucklander.”

    And, indeed, looking at sports, I don’t see why I (as an Aucklander, with 13 NPC titles to my name) should feel any sense of belonging with North Harbour (0) or Counties Manukau (0) residents.

    1. A city/urban area is an actual, real thing…in most instances, and New Zealand isn’t necessarily immune, a country is the land inside an arbitrary set of imaginary lines on the ground.

    2. The city is far older than that, cities were well established at the dawn of recorded history some 8,000 years ago (indeed it is argued that the establishment of a sedentary urban population was necessary for the development of writing and recording systems).

      Until recently the city was the basis of statehood, and the focus of patriotism. Your ‘nation’ was your king, or equivalent, usually synonymous with their seat of government in a castle, walled city or similar urbanisation. At best an economic engine? Hardly.

  2. “and the city in which we all live”

    The parochialism lives on. Auckland includes rural areas. We don’t all live in a city.

      1. And that is the very reason that rural “Aucklanders” overwhelmingly wanted (and want) no part of the supercity. The blog above sums up the urban hubris.

        1. Fine by me. I always chuckle when folks in Rodney especially moan about the super city in one breath then their unsealed roads and infrastructure problems the next. Like somehow an independent rural council of 50k could ever afford to fix it all up.

        2. “Fine by you” is irrelevant insofar as it has no effect just as the wishes of the residents of Franklin and Rodney were irrelevant in that they had no effect.

        3. Regardless MFD, rural ex-urban places are still largely defined by their proximity to their urbs. Be they real productive farms of scale, which gain the advantage of proximity to market, or lifestyle properties that can be sustained by commutes and employment in the city. In both cases the values of the properties reflect this. Then of course they may also be landbanks attracting a higher value through development potential that no property in the back of beyond could ever attract.

          Rodney is not Kumara.

          You clearly dislike the thought but Auckland’s rural properties are still satellites of the centre, though more like Pluto than Mercury.

          Of course this still means that a balance of taxation and services needs to be fairly met for these very particular communities as it does for other parts of the administrative region.

        4. “rural ex-urban places are still largely defined by their proximity to their urbs”
          Provided the defining is done by those who don’t live there. Why not ask rural dwellers how their area is defined? There are areas of AC’s territory that are at least 1.5 hours drive from the city. Proximity indeed.

          “productive farms of scale, which gain the advantage of proximity to market”

          The market for the bulk of local farms is export and for this area that is primarily via port of Tauranga. Proximity to urban Auckland is largely irrelevant. This quaint idea that the rural areas of Auckland are busy producing Auckland city’s food (and obtaining benefit thereby) is largely imaginary and while it is the city folks doing the imagining it is the city folks making the rules on the basis of their imagining.

          “lifestyle properties that can be sustained by commutes and employment in the city”
          We don’t commute to the city , nor do our neighbours or our neighbours neighbours. We have better things to do; productive things. I think there is a woman up the road that drives to Middlemore but she is the exception.

          Let’s deal with one of the statements in the blog above:
          “a common understanding that we are generally better off together than apart”
          In rural Auckland there is no such “common understanding” since it is not better off together at all. Residents have effectively been disenfranchised and no demonstrable improvements have occurred. Len Brown opines that he is making Auckland the most liveable city in the world and the more polite in these parts say “that’s nice but what does it have to do with us?”. The common understanding is that we were better off apart; local people dealing with local issues.

          This concept that the city is the sun around which we revolve is another example of urban hubris.

        5. “This concept that the city is the sun around which we revolve is another example of urban hubris.”

          Then explain all the traffic emanating from rural Auckland every morning, with people on their way to work, in the city.

        6. Look at only half an equation if it pleases you. But whatever is made somewhere, on a farm or in a city, needs to be bought by someone else. Diary farmers will never make a living selling their milk to each other.

          No one’s production looks flash without a market to sell it to. I know its a common habit of those impressed with their own output to misunderstand Consumption Economics but they’re real and as necessary as the economics of production: Countryside feeds to city; cities enrich the countryside.

          And the part of countryside that is close to the economic force that is the city, is shaped by it, at times positively and times not. Just a fact. No need to be bitter about it.

        7. Much as you want to frame the discussion in terms of production and supply it misses the point entirely.

          Allow me illustrate in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner:

          Residents of Rodney and Franklin were overwhelmingly against being incorporated into the “supercity” insofar as it was an inappropriate administration construct for their needs and wants.

          They said “**** off, city folks, we want to run our rural and small town areas ourselves like what we have for a long time with that mayor whose name we can’t remember”.
          Rodney Hide said “**** off country folks, we know best and we are going to be the boss of you”.
          The country folks said “**** off, Rodney, you are a tosser even if you have the name of one of our counties” but Rodney get a Royal Commission in and they said “yes, the city folks will be the boss of you because they are hip and fashionable and drink coffee made by folks called baristas and they earn more money and have BMWs instead of Hiluxes so you will just have to ****ing lump it” (although, being a Royal Commission they said it in a much nicer way and they were paid money, so what could they do?).

          “****’ said the country folks, “this is not going to be good for us”…..and they were ****ing right!

          …so…when someone blogs how dandy it is that we are all together now, rejoicing in our urban nirvana I say…have at it…but be aware that you are displaying your own brand of parochialism.

        8. No complaint with that. If rural people or anyone else has a complaint that they’re not getting a fair go, fair enough. But that is an entirely different issue as to whether those living rurally around a city are in its orbit or not. Additionally don’t you mean ‘arrogance’ rather than ‘hubris’. Or are you one of these catastrophists that imagines that urban life is about to collapse?

          Anyway, rather than these abstractions, I’m more interested in your experiences with EVs, if you’ve taken the plunge yet? I gather from an earlier comment that you’re a likely early adopter?

          I drove a Leaf the other day, which was a great experience, torquey, surprisingly roomy, if needlessly funkily designed. The math doesn’t work for me however, as somewhat ironically I’m driving so much less these days, the fuel savings don’t add up to much. But that’s a function of my inner location and conscious substitution of driving with Active and Transit modes. But out in the lovely countryside vehicles are going to remain the best choice and the mileages are longer, so the pay off will be sooner….

          Where are you at with this?, I’m sure many here will be interested.

        9. Arrogance is not a nice-sounding word…harsh and accusational somehow. Hubris is soft and round and slides out so well, so even if I meant arrogance I think I prefer hubris. It’s the sort of word that would work so much better in a poem than would arrogance.

          Progress on obtaining the Leaf is a little slow. Whacking great provisional tax bill paid last week and my wife has convinced me that one of our other car needs replacing first so after that I will get the Leaf. Still in two minds whether new or used ex-Japan. It looks like the effects of the recent precipitous drop in price by Nissan is still filtering through to the used market; a look at Trademe suggests $20 k for a 3 year old with 10k km is reasonable. I have a deep aversion to buying brand-new cars as I prefer someone else to suffer the huge initial depreciation. As to the design of the Leaf; it’s OK but we don’t have a lot of choice. Sheer numbers worldwide suggest it’s a proven design and that parts should be easy to get. I kid myself that a Tesla would be nice but functionally the Leaf is just as good.

          I drove a brand new Leaf at Manukau Nissan a few weeks back and it got a thumbs up from the whole family. The 13 yo (sci-fi fan) says it’s like being in a spaceship. All-in-all I agree that the driving experience per se is very pleasant. Quiet and vibration free…calming somehow. I will aim to have it by Christmas; a present for a year of hard slog and long hours. Happy to report back impressions and data once I have it in service.

          I have 2.5 kW of PV to install when I get a chance and there is a tree feller (or a crew of fellers) coming on Tuesday to take down a large tree shading the roof where I want to put an evacuated tube water heater. All part of the plan to reduce our emissions and become more parsimonious with energy.

        10. Yes i particularly liked how when you floor the ‘gas’ pedal all you get is a low whine not unlike that of a jet plane, and it responds directly as you’d expect from an electric engine. Nice; feels like the future. But that white interior…. arg.

          I guess the concern with the 3 year old option is the unknown life in the battery, but if their 5 year replacement deal on any battery that slips below 80% performance is reassuring if it applies to used imports?

        11. Yes, Patrick, it does feel like the future. Studies I have read suggest the drivers of EVs tend to drive less aggressively as well and that would be a good thing.
          Battery life on a used import would be a concern (I am not convinced that Japanese battery warranties can be transferred) but it’s an opportunity as well. I may look at offering services and parts for imported Leafs. I am picking that battery cost will fall in real terms and I have some ideas for developing some after-market add-ons after my current workload eases off. It is interesting to muse on what a 6 or 7 year old Leaf with 150 000 km on the clock will be worth. Could be a good business for someone importing battery cells from China and fitting them and selling off the old ones for stationary PV use.

          I’m not really bothered by the pale interior – my current car has beige leather so I can live with the recycled soda bottle upholstery.

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