On Friday the council published this video highlighting the importance of Auckland’s city centre and busting a few common myths, such as that the city sucks rates out of the rest of the region. Overall the video is pretty good but I do wonder if it couldn’t have been a bit stronger to really hammer home its points. For example:

  • When talking about transport they could have highlighted the transport mix has changed rapidly, even in the last few years. That investments like Britomart, electrification and the Northern Busway, once considered potential white elephants, have exceeded all predictions (so more investments like them are needed).
  • They could have highlighted the billions of dollars of private investment flowing into the city though projects like Commercial Bay. That the private investment and population growth is a sign of the level of confidence in the city.
  • The city centre plays an increasingly important role in tourism as well as a location for events

What did you think of the video?

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64 comments

  1. I think the elephant-in-the-room for the CBD-centric Auckland is the forgotten lens this shines on our socio-economic issues. The people using shared spaces, buying lunch from popup restaurants, or even having a coffee in the sun at Aotea Square, are NOT the poor, working class of Auckland; they can’t afford to buy their lunch, they can’t afford coffee that doesn’t come from a tin, and they definitely don’t have breaks during the day to go shopping

    1. Therefore they also don’t pay City Centre targeted rates that pay for everything you have listed.

      However I disagree with your comment, pop down to the Diwali festival in Aotea Square, for example, and tell me there aren’t all kinds of folks using the square and eating at the pop up stalls. With the square upgrade paid for by city workers. You’re welcome!

      1. I would add also that the CBD is not entirely restricted to the latte-drinking classes. Working people commute into Central Auckland as cleaners, security guards, staff at hotels and Sky City, etc. There’s a disturbing trend in pitting the working-class suburbs against the CBD. They’re interdependent

        Anyway, this line seems to be put forward, not by people from working class burbs, but by people from privileged burbs who resent both the CBD and the working-class burbs and just talk about working class burbs as a rhetorical stick to beat the urbanist strategy with.

        1. There’s a hell of a lot of folk on the train with me from way out west, I’m sure it’s the same from the south.

          Or does JDELH think the tens of thousands of rail commuters pouring into Britomart each day only come from Orakei and Remuera?

          1. You people honestly have no idea of what poverty is.

            I’m going to say 90% of those rail commuters earn above the median income

            They are… employed
            They are probably not disabled. Relatively few are brown.

            It’s easy in your bubble to assume that the “poorer” people working in the CBD are poor. They aren’t. The kids who have never gone north of Otahuhu are a whole different world for you.

          2. Wait, so we’ve got to people working as cleaners in the CBD aren’t properly working-class enough?! That’s special pleading taken to an absurd level.

          3. The fact they have *a job* means they are not the most poverty-stricken NZers i.e. the unemployed in the back blocks of Henderson or Mangere.

            To have a job is PRIVILEGE

          4. Indeed, 50% of Auckland households have below average income, and 50% above. And not sure why you’re talking about workers, only 30% of train travel is for work.

            But what exactly is your point? That because a proportion of Aucklanders live in poverty the residents and businesses of the City Centre shouldn’t tax themselves extra to spend on improving the City Centre for the benefit of themselves and anyone else who cares to visit?

          5. You might want to check your facts also. 94% of Auckland households are either employed, retired or in full time study.

            Having a job isn’t privilege, it’s utterly normal. Of course this does mean we have 6% of Auckland households struggling with structural unemployment which is indeed a problem… but that is no reason ignore the 94% of Auckland that don’t have that problem.

        2. Yeah… I’m sceptical. The only reason I have been to the CBD more than Manukau is uni. The commuters are, frankly, a drop in the bucket compared to everyone who isn’t a commuter.

        3. Yes, they do, and instead of providing night buses for them (24/7), or cheap food (Pak n Save), we provide them food they can’t afford and transport they can’t use

      2. No, they don’t, but we could charge them a targeted rate (it’s called progressive taxation) and use the money to fund development in South Auckland

        1. We already to that. You might want to look at where the rates revenue comes from and where it is spent. A quick hint: it’s not the residents of Mangere who are paying for footpaths in St Marys Bay.

        2. There is plenty of development in South Auckland. I say that as a proud South Aucklander. Just take a look at the massive new Otahuhu community centre. It is the new heart of Otahuhu. Take a look at the new railway station there. It is the new transport hub of Otahuhu. The Manukau bus station is nearing completion. Mangere has new cycle ways and various road developments. The development of Manurewa is coming on as well.

          1. Fantastic. Should we have a big party then and declare poverty over? Or is South Auckland still struggling under the weight of socio-economic imbalance and the lingering effects of colonialism?

          2. JDELH, I think the focus needs to be on higher taxation to reduce the gap and to return dignity to people’s lives. Rates need to be raised too, to bring our infrastructure up to standard, and for a whole lot of reasons. But I don’t think the reallocation of wealth that is required can be achieved through rates reallocation.

  2. Myth buster indeed, unconvincing and a waste of precious rates.
    Specialist laywers and ice cream vendors? What use are these to Auckland? High density housing, are these those 15sqM concrete boxes that all these new cashed up immigrants are moving into?
    Great. Where are the new affordable homes outside the CBD?

    1. What use are these things? If they did not exist I would not have bothered to move back to NZ.

      A large chunk of new apartments being built cost significantly more than the Auckland average or median price.

      Not everyone wants to live in a dead suburb and go to the mall on weekends.

      1. Aha! So which are you?, a lawyer or ice cream vendor, I hope its ice cream vendor as we already have enough leeches and low lifes in Auckland

          1. Indeed, like me as I had a summer job, when at Uni, selling ice cream from stand in a mall.
            And you? leech, lowlife,smartarse or something better?

        1. I concede that “specialist ice cream” was cringe-worthy, however I do have to defend specialist lawyers… As an IP creator, I don’t want a generalist protecting my creations, I want a specialist. In this case a certain company in Carlton Gore Rd, with arguably the best reputation in the country for IP law.

          Does that make me a leech by association, or a wealth creator in our increasingly knowledge driven world?

          1. Specialist ice cream vendors are great! Just like the specialist vegetarian burger restaurant! Nowhere else could support these services.

          2. Yes I do agree. I just thought the choice was funny. Lawyers get a bad rap when in fact they have to abide by much stricter ethical guidelines than most.

    2. Makes me laugh. Specialist lawyers and icecream vendors. What examples to give! With NZ’s first sale of a specialist lawyer firm to a listed company last week, those ex-partners will be able to buy lots of icecreams…

    3. Yes I liked the video in general but that was my main criticism: More or different examples of the specialist workers would of been better, given that “lawyer” would be perceived by some as a dirty word.

  3. Great video. Auckland still has a long way to go but the video illustrates there is a plan to try help improve things as efficiently as possible. I still meet a lot of tourists who are disappointed by the Auckland CBD. They can never quite articulate why they are disappointed but say it doesn’t feel like NZ. My thinking is they expect it to be more green and pedestrian friendly but it has a long way to be this. Hopefully the CRL and Linear Park/ Quay street improvement will deliver some of this but Queen St is a real issue.

    1. So do you think tourists would be impressed if we daylighted the Waihorotiu Stream on Queen St, and developed it as a rich environment showcasing Auckland’s unique flora? Is there someone who could do the economic analysis and show that the increased income from impressed tourists would provide a BCR higher than that of the EWL? It could be a RoNS! (River of National Significance). 🙂

      1. That would be pretty cool.

        I guess tourists expect compactness, green spaces, sea views and cool squares not traffic and poor public transport. Some tourists I speak to comment on the surprising amount of international students. It does seem to be an Auckland thing that as you don’t notice as many international students in other international cities but these students actually bring life to the CBD.

        Tourists I speak to still seem to prefer Wellington over Auckland for its accessibility and vibe.

        1. The tourists I speak to all say the same things: Auckland is better for them than Wellington and the sky is so high here.

          To put it in context, the only tourists I speak to are from Hong Kong so:
          – Akl vs Wlg = More Chinese shops and people, also more Cantonese speakers.
          – Sky so high – Our buildings being so short (with few exceptions) makes the sky seem further away than in HK. On a side note, the Metropolis building is about the same height as the average HK apartment building. As a born-again JAFA I found that interesting.

      2. Speaking of unique NZ flora, my wife and I were walking along Albert St the other day and overheard someone asking about the ponga ferns and other native bush on the billboards that hide the construction, “Is that how it’s going to look when it’s finished?” 😀

        https://imgur.com/a/RTXAv

        https://nzrailphotos.co.nz/photos/7247/Albert-Street-directional-sign.JPG

        Personally, I wouldn’t be a fan of the Liger Creek drain on Queen Street being opened up, but I think it would look a lot nicer (and be more favourable to tourists and other foot-traffic) if the road was paved over, footpaths widened and a strip of green turf put down the middle for LRT.

      3. Nice to read about some big ideas here. Auckland city centre is good in patches and very mediocre in other areas and unfortunately much of Queen St and Albert St really are pretty bland and unexciting. The contrast is stark with say; Brisbane and Melbourne CBDs.

        I really like the idea of running a revitalised Waihorotiu Stream down Queen Street. Perhaps between the tram tracks along the centre of the road with banks filled with cleansing wetland plants. The gradient of Queen St is good enough for the river course to be a “babbling brook” most of the way down. The removal of traffic other than trams and the development of public spaces means that citizens can hear that babbling brook.

        This could be supplemented by clumps of Nikaus, Ferns and other low-light tolerant trees at various points. I think in combination with overall street-scaping, and possible glass-roof over the street in parts for the winter months, the change to Queen St could help the ongoing transformation of Auckland into “First City of the Pacific”. Water supply for greenery will be sustainable via the stream and the natural watercourse that exists. Sufficient sunlight will be a factor that determines what get planted where, as will the usual requirements for street security, line of sight etc.

        A corridor of New Zealand bush through a major tram/transit and retail shopping mall/office/residential precinct – now that would put Auckland on the map!

        1. Brilliant tuktuk! That would create a truly unique and iconic street, and it sounds both doable and reasonably inexpensive. It would work really well if done in conjunction with public spaces and a free hop-on / hop-off tram in the style of San Francisco or Denver.

          The CBD has been in need of a facelift for decades, and it’s great to see ideas where Queen St is more than just a transit corridor (which post-CRL it should not need to be).

        2. That would be pretty cool as a resident, however, I’m not sure tourists would come to Auckland to see a fake bush or stream environment in an urban area, when the real thing isn’t that far away.

          1. I think tourists are impressed when they see an urban expression of a national treasure. Pretty places are memorable if there’s a story behind them.

          2. It all depends how it is done. Brisbane’s South Bank has a fake beach and palm trees, very popular it is too. In other parts the landscaping is very architectural, very practical in providing shelter and shade from the heat, and picturesque when the Bougainvilleas are in bloom. People don’t come to Brisbane because it has South Bank, they do come and spend time because collectively the city has a sense of its identity and confidence in the way it responds to its environment. This includes pedestrianized streets in the CBD, and from the South Bank through to the Museum, Performance Arts Centre, Art Gallery and Library. Brisbane has had its share of battles – the opposite side of the river is severed by a motorway.

            Likewise Melbourne has responded and built upon its identity and sense of place over many years now.

            Auckland is also developing a strong sense of itself. It just isn’t reflected in the CBD. But it could be. A babbling river or stream, modern light rail, pathways and pavements, shelter, people and bush down Queen Street can be a very contextual interpretation of what Queen St is – a valley in a big modern city.

    2. Is it the Paris effect? Expectations are so high that when they finally arrive they are let down. Or is it racist undertones because the diversity of the CBD doesn’t reflect the image they have of New Zealanders?

      Unfortunately, I’ve heard comments that reflect the latter

      1. Paris effect. Ha ha.

        It’s the Auckland effect. People assume there’s something resembling a city centre over there. There isn’t. Mostly a mix of highways and huge buildings. Very unpleasant environment for humans. If you’re a tourist hanging around in the CBD you’re wasting your time.

          1. Here’s the thing: all the above, while nice, are quite spread out. Now, if you are a tourist you likely don’t have a car, and public transport is still so dysfunctional it might as well not be there at all. So you’re going to have a few long and very unpleasant walks to whatever you want to visit.

            Let’s go to:

            – the museum: You could try to find a bus to Grafton, although good luck with that if you’re not familiar with Auckland.
            – Victoria Park: Have you seen the streets in that area?? Same problem for Albert Park.
            – The rose garden: As above, but even worse.

            Maybe in 10 years, if some of those grand plans happen (like the Victoria Street linear park). And if we get some functional public transport within the CBD.

          2. +1, the CBD is an embarrassment. Why the hell do we let the 2% of people in Queen Street who are in cars dominate it?

  4. Actually re watching the video, seems more to be making a point about improving the street environment & leading to the planned waterfront development. Connecting how important that is in general to the rest of Auckland/NZ and justifying it ahead of time with perhaps a big spend coming up which will easy be perceived by those in the burbs as a big over spend on things they don’t use. I first thought this video may have been triggered by the breakaway North Rodney group.

    1. Yes I quite liked the video. I wish they’d also given the stats for how much money is being spent on roads in Auckland (by all parties), and how much has been spent on roads over the last few decades, and how what we are spending on PT is only a drop in the bucket in comparison.

  5. I can see an opportunity here.

    Why not GA get funding from NZ On Air and make a series of educational documentary that inspire people. Then plays the documentary on TV to educate the average Joe that still stuck in last century thinking.

    More educated voters means politicians needs to be more educated.

    1. Great idea. They could get Ted and Ralph from the Fast Show.
      Ted: “What do you think of that old Urban Design?”
      Ralph: “That’s a load of old bollocks!”

      1. I was more thinking Julie-Anne, dressed as Xena, fighting some blue suits and toppling them off motorway bridges. Winnie’s voice calling a spade a spade over it all…

  6. I think this video is a complete waste of time and money.

    Our council is over it’s eyeballs in debt and you can see why when you watch a video like this. That a council would use it’s resources to produce a propaganda piece is an absolute disgrace. Executive pay at council is completely out of control. The general wage bill is completely out of control. Staffing levels are out of control. Council is playing an active role in causing the housing crisis which refuses to go away.

    This is a council that can’t even count the number of trains it needs to run on its massively subsidised train system. Auckland has nothing to be proud of. Our city is a hole little better than Hamilton. If Goff was accountable he’d resign.

    #freetrm

  7. I was surprised by the rates earned in the CBD, $100,000,000 is _not_ chump change!

    Was also surprised at the GDP comparison with the upper Waikato. That one was a biggie. I wonder what the “per person” GDP is in the CBD compared to the national average?

    1. No surprise there, given how much apartments and businesses there are in the CBD on a small area. The blocks between Albert Street and Nelson Street probably have more ratepayers than an average suburb.

      I was really surprised to learn about this targeted rate. That the thing which doesn’t make any sense.

  8. Propaganda. If you actually do a good job, you wouldn’t need this stuff to talk about it. Actually do stuff that makes sense instead of just more talking and stupid reports. They mention libraries at the same time they are slashing stuff numbers. The mention parks at the same time they let them get run down. All this while they spend up on air-fares. Sure they do lots of essential work, but council is an enormous waster of other people’s money.

    1. It’s ridiculous that the council has to do journalist’s jobs for them. All because the false narrative that the city centre steals rates sells papers.

      1. I reckon an all out ban on advertising in NZ would shake things up. Certainly cut consumption and improve mental health. (Sorry, out of the Overton Window again.) 🙂

  9. I Just watched it again to figure out why the made this video. The point appears to be to soften us up for major expenditure. They say the City Centre contributes $100,000,000 in rates but males no mention of how much rates are actually spent there. So is there an inflow or and outflow of rates? It mentions the special rate they pay for upgrading their footpaths. That has always been the case as retail areas like to modernise to follow every urban design fashion as it comes along. It is chump change when you look at the costs they run up on these projects to rebuild streets and footpaths that are not broken.
    Clearly the seawall is going to cost a small fortune as are the other big ‘investments’ they list so the point of this is to get us ready to open out wallets and watch even more money flow in there.
    Oh and no mention of the hundreds of millions that have gone into separating their sewers, electrifying their trains, building CRL, building a motorway system that kept the place alive for forty years or funding the attractions to drag people in.

    1. Mmmm, there was a once-over-lightly about greenfields vs brownfields infrastructure costs when we’ve a city that’s been under-maintained in this way…

  10. Auckland city is one of the greater ones that I have been too, big city but without the major crowds that larger towns have. Its important to have a thriving CBD this helps generate economic wealth for all of Auckland as not all of us live in the CBD. Transportation from there also need to then reach-out to other major suburbs to provide safe and economic travel where its second nature to use a train as opposed to worry about where to park etc.

    Geat work and if they didnt do the videos how would we even know whats going on other than whats up with the PM 😀

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