Press Release – Office of the Mayor of Auckland
12 June 2013
Embargoed against delivery: 4pm
Mayor Len Brown’s speech
Auckland Conversations: Population Growth Trends
It is a pleasure to be here today to discuss and debate the topic of Auckland’s population growth.
I want to welcome Len Cook. Len is currently Acting Chief Executive of the Families Commission, but he’s best known as a leading statistician and expert in social policy.
As well as being chief statistician in both New Zealand and the UK, Len has made a significant contribution to many important social policy discussions in New Zealand over the past 30 years.
Today we will hear from him on Auckland’s growth challenges over the next 30 years.
Auckland is only 150 years old. But we have grown up fast.
In 1841, we were a town of 1,500 people.
In 1996 – we were just over a million.
Today we are 1.5 million.
That’s rapid growth by any measures – including nearly 50 per cent growth in the last two decades.
Auckland’s first wave of expansion, in the early first half of the 20th century, was shaped by a network of trams and railway lines spreading out across the isthmus.
But by the 1950s, Auckland had largely abandoned its public transport network in favour of the private motor vehicle.
And so the building of motorways shaped our city’s growth for the next 50 years – in Manukau in the South and, after the Harbour bridge opened in 1959, over on the North Shore.
Today we are home to a third of New Zealanders. And we continue to grow at pace.
Based on the projections of Statistics NZ, we could add as many as a million people over the next 30 years – with 60 per cent of that growth coming from our existing population.
While this represents a big change for Auckland, it is in fact less than the rate of growth we have experienced for the past 15 years – over three census periods.
Since 1991, our actual rate of population growth has been well above the highest projection.
It’s clear Auckland has an established trend of exceeding even its high-growth projections.
So when it comes to planning for land use over the next 30 years – as we are with the Unitary Plan – the prudent approach is to provide for the high growth scenario.
If we were to fall short – the consequences would be an undersupply of developable land in Auckland.
It’s important to be clear – a million extra people in Auckland is a planning horizon, not a target. If growth turns out to be slower, we will adjust our plans over time.
Our Unitary Plan, for example will be reviewed every 7-10 years, and our Long-term Plan every 3 years.
So we will continue to take the prudent approach.
But stats aside – I have no doubt our city will continue to rocket ahead – bringing both challenges and new opportunities as we grow.