One resident's thoughts on transport and housing in Auckland

In population, Auckland already dominates New Zealand with one third of the country's population. Auckland's population is more than three times larger than the nearest contender. And we are still growing.

Population growth in Auckland is fed from three sources:

Natural growth occurs when the birth rate exceeds the death rate in the existing local population. Natural growth is healthy and occurs at a manageable rate.

Urban drift occurs when people from rural areas in New Zealand move to the cities. Urban drift can be driven by people seeking jobs or education or just looking for more action than is available in rural areas. People can also migrate from smaller to larger cities for similar reasons.

Once a city becomes established as a dominant area it attracts more growth in a self perpetuating cycle. A large city has more capacity to develop features that attract more people and so it becomes larger.

It is difficult to control these migrations within New Zealand. The state cannot dictate where people should live. However, decisions can be influenced through initiatives to introduce jobs and development in other locations and by the cost of living relative to other locations.

Immigration occurs when people migrate to New Zealand from another country. Immigrants can choose to settle anywhere in New Zealand, but are more frequently attracted to larger cities where it is perceived there will be more jobs and business opportunities.

Census data from 2013 reports that nearly half of all immigrants arriving in New Zealand settle in Auckland. The same census found more than one third of Aucklanders were born overseas. Immigration is controllable and is regulated by central government but Auckland is more affected by immigration policies than any other region.

Do we want to grow? It appears to me that people generally accept that Auckland needs to grow without having given too much thought as to whether this is desirable or not. Maybe there is just a feeling of inevitability as if there is nothing we can do to control it. That is partly true, but there are still actions we could take to exert some influence so I say the question is worth considering.

Growth provides advantages to current residents due to investment in the area, improvements to amenities, economies of scale and broader cultural opportunities. It obviously provides advantages to the new arrivals or they wouldn't bother coming. The prestige of our governing officials increases as the size of their region increases.

Growth also creates disadvantage to current residents due to competition for existing resources such as land (for housing, beaches and reserves), jobs, transport and infrastructure.

Aucklanders need to think and plan for what level of growth is desirable for the city and what can be sustained within our available resources.


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