Key’s Auckland announcements

January 27th, 2016 at 2:33 pm by David Farrar

John Key made a number of announcements in his speech today:

  • Funding for the City Rail Link to advance from 2020 to 2018, to allow construction to begin in 2018
  • A streamlined consenting process for the $1 billion East-West Connection between the Southern and South-Western motorways, so if consented construction can start in 2018
  • Looking to widen State Highway 20 between Neilson Street and Queenstown Road

He also announced some non-Auckland projects:

  • $115 million to complete four regional projects.
  • The by-passes in Taranaki to allow motorists to avoid Mount Messenger and the Awakino Tunnel
  • Funding to replace the single lane Motu Bridge on State Highway 2 near Gisborne with a new two-lane bridge.
  • Replace the Opawa Bridge on State Highway 1 near Blenheim with a safer bridge to accommodate increasing traffic volumes in Marlborough.


Celia says come live in Wellington

August 30th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Celia invites Aucklanders to Wellington in the Herald:

We freed up downtown Wellington from restrictive minimum carparking requirements in the 90s and now more than 40 per cent of our population growth is downtown – where you can walk home from a late night out at karaoke or the ballet.

Wellington’s inner and outer Town Belts constrain urban sprawl and give us the bonus of great views, awesome mountain biking and a resurgence of birdlife spreading out from Zealandia so kaka regularly fly over Treasury, rather than biodiversity being confined to the outer edges of the city.

I’ve seen kaka in trees on our property several times. Zealandia has made a huge difference.

Getting into town for work is easy and it’s even easier to get around on foot. You can knock off half a dozen meetings a day without needing a taxi.

Yep. The maximum walking time to get anywhere is 30 minutes within the CBD.

According to data from CoreLogic, the Auckland region saw an increase in average property prices of 17 per cent to $840,165, during the 12 months to June. Wellington is sitting at $459,366, up 1.5 per cent over the same period.

Apartment prices have been almost static for the past few years.

Here’s an interesting question: What percentage of Wellington jobs are in the public sector? 30 per cent? 20? It’s actually 15 per cent. With our rapidly expanding innovation sector, Wellington is becoming more high-tech town than public sector.

The IT, gaming, film and cultural sectors are all booming.

Wellington has the highest concentration of web-based and digital technology companies per capita in New Zealand with 7373 people working in the ICT sector and Wellingtonians are twice as likely to work in ICT as people in other regions

Didn’t know it was twice as high here.

Wellington has more than 300 cafes, bars and restaurants, and claims more places to eat and drink per capita than New York.

And they range from the great curry and kebab shops to the top class restaurants such as Logan-Brown and Hippopotamus.  And it’s nice to be able to easily get a drink at 2 am if you want to carry on the conversation.

Our events calendar is packed. This month we had Visa Wellington On a Plate, the country’s largest culinary festival, teamed with Beervana, and LUX fusing light and kinetic art. September brings The World of WearableArt™ Awards Show, one of the world’s biggest stage spectacles and a showcase of completely unbridled international design imagination. Coming up we have the 30th anniversary of the New Zealand Festival, the pre-Olympic Games Sevens Wellington and many other premium events provide a good excuse for you to check out what else the capital has to offer.

Almost too many at times. You bounce from film festival to comedy festival to foreign film festivals.

It’s all so easy to get around. If you fancy a swim, kayak or paddleboard at lunchtime, you just wander down from your office. Or head into the Town Belt hills for a walk or a mountain bike. And back in time for that 1pm meeting.

One of the few cities in the world where you can mountain bike during your lunch break.

So Celia is right, Wellington is a great place to live and work. Just please, don’t all come at once.

The top 10 most liveable cities

August 23rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Economist has done its list of the 10 best cities in the world to live. This year they are:

  1. Melbourne 97.5
  2. Vienna 97.4
  3. Vancouver 97.3
  4. Toronto 97.2
  5. Calgary 96.6
  6. Adelaide 96.6
  7. Sydney 96.1
  8. Perth 95.9
  9. Auckland 95.7
  10. Helsinki 95.6
    Zurich 95.6

The cities are ranked on 39 criteria such as safety, education, hygiene, health care, culture, environment, recreation, stability and transport.

King Tuheitia claims Auckland

August 22nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

King Tuheitia has launched a claim for Auckland extending north to Mahurangi, down the Firth of Thames and across to the Manukau Harbour and to Piha. …

Conflict with other Auckland tribes was likely but he said their relationship with the likes of Ngati Whatua would stand the test.

“It’s always going to cause some challenges for those who claim mana whenua into Auckland. That’s a reality we are going to have to deal with.”


Some challenges? That’s an understatement.

Metro’s 50 most influential Aucklanders

June 12th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Metro Magazine has named the 50 Aucklanders it says are the most influential. The top 10 are:

1.      Stephen Tindall, business
2.      Lorde, music
3.      Nigel Morrison, business
4.      John Key, politics
5.      Steven Joyce, politics
6.      Stephen Town, council
7.      Peter Cooper, development
8.      Joan Withers, business
9.      Lynda Reid, education
10.    Al Brown, food

Looking at some of the more common categories here is how they rank people be sector:


  1. Stephen Tindall
  2. Nigel Morrison
  3. Joan Withers
  4. Paul Majurey
  5. Michael Stiassny


  1. John Key
  2. Steven Joyce
  3. Len Brown
  4. Jacinda Ardern
  5. Phil Goff
  6. Winston Peters
  7. Penny Hulse


  1. Jane Hastings
  2. Mike Hosking
  3. Julie Christie
  4. Shayne Currie
  5. Rachel Glucina
  6. Kelly Martin
  7. Sido Kitchin

Auckland 10th most liveable city

August 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Economist has published an updated list of the most liveable cities in the world. The top 10 are:

  1. Melbourne
  2. Vienna
  3. Vancouver
  4. Toronto
  5. Adelaide
  6. Calgary
  7. Sydney
  8. Helsinki
  9. Perth
  10. Auckland

Auckland scores the following:

  • Stability 95
  • Healthcare 95.8
  • Culture & Environment 97
  • Education 100
  • Infrastructure 92.9
  • Overall 95.7

The bottom city is Damascus!

Nice to have a city in the top 10. I do like Melbourne, but do have to rave about Vienna. I love Vienna, and if I had to live in Europe, would choose Vienna.

Not quite edging out

June 3rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The headline:

Public transport edging out the car

Which makes you think more people now use public transport than vehicles.

during the seven years between census counts, the number of Aucklanders driving to work has fallen 2 per cent to 84 per cent and public transport has increased 2 per cent to 10 per cent.

Not quite edging out. I estimate that at a 2% swing every seven years, public transport will edge out the car in 133 years!

Sensible transport plans for Auckland must include both improvements to roads and to public transports.

Auckland gets more religious

February 4th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

Auckland had the largest percentage of religious people in New Zealand at the 2013 Census, results from Statistics New Zealand show. The region also had more religious people than at the last census, in 2006.

Across New Zealand, the number of people who affiliated with a religion in 2013 fell 5.5 percent since the 2006 Census. Regional data released today shows that this trend was reflected in every region except Auckland, which had a 1.2 percent increase in the number of religious residents.

“Auckland was the only region with more religious people in 2013 than in 2006,” Government Statistician Liz MacPherson said. “It also had the highest proportion of people with a religion, at 59.6 percent, though this fell from 63.5 percent in 2006. Nationally, 55.0 percent of the population had a religious affiliation in 2013.”

I wonder why this is. A few theories.

  1. Most new immigrants come to Auckland, and new immigrants are more likely to be religious than those already here
  2. Auckland is home to more evangelical churches and they are being successful in converting people, especially in South Auckland
  3. Religious types are moving from other areas to Auckland

I think No 1 is most likely.

Friday Photo: 20 December

December 20th, 2013 at 9:15 am by Chthoniid

And for something different, a shot of the Auckland skyline from Waiheke Island from a previous summer.  This was taken with a 300mm lens and the red lighting effect was actually quite localised.  That motivated the use of the telephoto to bring it all within the frame.

Click for larger, higher res image

It is from my ‘Natural Goodness‘ album.

Hope everyone has a good break.  I’m going to be disappearing for a few weeks.

Auckland growth

October 8th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson says new Census data which show that New Zealand population growth has halved since the last Census could prompt revision of Auckland’s infrastructure plans such as an increase in high-rise apartments and the construction of a city rail loop.

But Auckland Council is standing by its plans for growth, saying that Auckland is expected to grow faster than the rest of the country.

The council’s planning for the next 30 years is based on the prediction that the number of residents will grow by 1 million.

Mr Williamson said the first Census data in seven years indicated that this projection was far too high.

Statistics New Zealand figures released yesterday showed that on Census night, there were 214,101 more people in New Zealand than at the previous Census in 2006. This meant the population had grown by 31,000 a year over the past seven years, compared to 58,000 a year in the previous period of 2001 to 2006.

“This is a huge surprise – bigger than Ben Hur,” Mr Williamson said. “It’s nearly half the growth rate that everyone had been basing their historic numbers on.”

This is why I think the Government’s funding position on the CRL is smart. Budgeted to start in 2010 2020, but with the provision to start earlier if there is sufficient population growth etc leading to inner city employment growth.

The planning documents assume that the region will grow by 2.2 per cent a year. As a result, they include proposals for more high-rise, small apartments in the suburbs and 160,000 homes outside the existing urban boundaries.

The Census data showed a national average increase of 0.75 per cent in population per year, but regional growth would not be revealed until next week.

One can make a dirty estimate if you ignore changes in the Maori roll.

The 21 electorates mainly in Auckland had an electoral population of 1,205,678 in 2006 and of 1,318,141 in 2013. That is growth of 112,463 or 9.3% over seven years.

That equates to an average growth of almost 1.3% a year – well below the 2.2%.

What difference does this make over time?

Well 2.2% a year for 30 years is a 92% growth while 1.3% for 30 years is a 47.3% growth.

What difference does that make to projected population? Well on 1.5 million current population the 2.2% figure means an extra 1.4 million residents while the 1.3% figure means an extra 710,000 – so a difference of around 700,000 Aucklanders.

I look forward to people claiming that we should ignore the census data and not change the Auckland plan. Of course we should wait for the official figures next week.



Auckland transport funding

July 16th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Aucklanders have two options to address the city’s transport funding gap: road tolls, or higher rates and fuel taxes.

That’s the conclusion of a high-level report, released this afternoon, which gives Auckland Council and the Government a clear timetable for when new revenue sources will be needed to raise an extra $400 million for each of 30 years – $12 billion in total.

The money will be for projects such as the City Rail Link and new roads, including another Waitemata Harbour crossing.

But Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee immediately ruled out two options.

“We say no to regional fuel tax and no to tolls on existing roads,” he told 3 News.

The report, by the Consensus Building Group (CBG), a 17-member think-tank appointed by Mayor Len Brown, concluded that unless Aucklanders were prepared to accept significantly higher rates increases and heavier congestion, introducing some form of congestion charge by 2021 would be required.

I think a congestion charge is the best form of funding, as it is basically user pays. The challenge is whether it can be done in an efficient way.

Auckland transport projects

June 28th, 2013 at 1:18 pm by David Farrar

The PM has announced three major long-term transport projects for Auckland, at a cost of around $10 billion. They are:

  • The City rail link, with construction to start in 2020, or earlier if central city employment grows by 25% or in the year rail patronage is forecast to hit 20 million trips (if before 2020)
  • A second harbour crossing, with a tunnel  planned for around 2025, with route protection to start this year
  • Speeding up the  combined Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) and East-West Link project

They are also looking to bring forward three smaller projects –  to complete a motorway-to-motorway link between the Upper Harbour Highway and the Northern Motorway at Constellation Drive, widen the Southern Motorway between Manukau and Papakura, and upgrade State Highway 20A link to the airport to motorway standard.

It’s good to have certainty over the harbour crossing. These things need huge lead times, and you don’t want to be debating whether to have one, where it will be, and is it a bridge or tunnel just a few years before you badly need it.

It will be interesting to see the funding details over time. Will they all be funded from the National Land Transport Fund or will taxpayers make a contributions (NLTF is funded by petrol tax and road charges – not general taxation) or will PPPs play a role?

Smith on land boundaries

June 11th, 2013 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

Anne Gibson at NZ Herald reports:

Housing Minister Nick Smith wants Auckland to break out of its boundaries, saying that without change, ownership dreams are being killed.

“If you put a straitjacket around the city and say only land for residential development is in that defined line, you’re gifting a massive capital gain to those rural land owners,” he said, citing a Flat Bush property bought in 1995 for $890,000 and now on the market for $112 million – a situation he called “obscene”.

Land bankers had been encouraged to hold their parcels and strangle supply, the minister said.

“Because they have a monopoly, they are able to make those sorts of profits and the best way to stop it is to actually create a greater degree of freedom,” he said, citing the housing accord between the Government and city council intended to improve housing affordability.

“We cannot walk away from the issue that restrictive land supply policies across the world are at the heart of the housing affordability issue,” Dr Smith said.

Land supply is not the only factor, but it is the major factor. Any approach that fails to deal with land supply will be ineffectual.

“They’ve appreciated in value by approximately 20 per cent a year. The cost of capital is going to be about 8 per cent a year. People will stop land-banking when they think we’ve got our regulatory act together between local and central Government and we’re not going to allow that sort of ongoing monopoly of land supply. The land banker had no incentive to do anything,” Dr Smith said.


The Auckland convention centre deal

May 13th, 2013 at 8:29 am by David Farrar

Steven Joyce has announced a heads of agreement with Sky City for construction of an international convention centre for Auckland. The details are:

  • Construction cost $402 million
  • Capacity will be 3,500 delegates
  • Projected economic benefit is $90 million a year
  • Jobs estimated to be 1,000 during construction and 800 once up and running
  • An extra 33,000 delegates a year expected
  • Renewal of casino licence from 2021  to 2048
  • An additional 230 pokie machines and 40 gaming tables
  • Four new measures to deter problem gambling and money laundering
    • a predictive modelling tool that analyses data to identify players at risk of problem gambling
    • a voluntary pre-commitment system where players can elect to restrict the amount of time they play or the amount they spend
    • doubling the number of Host Responsibility specialists
    • introduction of player identification requirements when amounts over $500 are being put onto, or cashed from, TITO tickets

This reinforces to me what a tough negotiator Steven Joyce is, as groups were talking the agreement could be as many as 500 new pokie machines. The number, at 230, is identical to those granted to SkyCity under the previous Government in 2001 for the development of the existing, and much smaller, Auckland Convention Centre.

This agreement in principle was announced before the 2011 election has been fully transparent and the legislation to enable it will go through Parliament to be debated.

It is also worth noting that the number of pokie machines in New Zealand will continue to decrease overall, just at a slower rate.

1,000 new jobs and an international convention centre bringing in an extra 33,000 high spending tourists a year is a very good thing. I hope Parliament backs the deal.

Smith targets Auckland metropolitan urban limit

March 7th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Housing Minister Nick Smith is vowing to break the “stranglehold” of Auckland Council’s policy of containing urban sprawl – a policy he says is “killing the dreams of Aucklanders” by driving up house prices.

In his first major interview on how he plans to tackle the housing affordability issue handed to him in January’s Cabinet reshuffle, he said his focus would be on opening up land supply because land prices were the biggest factor putting home ownership out of reach of many Aucklanders.

“There’s no question in my mind that we have to break through the stranglehold that the existing legal metropolitan urban limit has on land supply,” he said.

Excellent. This is the first time a Minister has been this explicit.

The MUL is the enemy of affordable housing. No amount of subsidies, intensification, central planning, economies of scale can defy the reality that if the supply of land for housing is artificially constrained, then the price of land (and hence housing) will increase in line with demand. Arguing against this is like arguing against gravity.

“When we are looking at growth in Auckland of 2 per cent a year, we are going to need sections at the rate of 12,000 a year,” he said. “The metropolitan urban limit is a stranglehold on land that is killing the dreams of Aucklanders wanting to own their home and we have to work with the council to find the tools to increase that land supply and bring section prices back.”

If someone wants to be elected Mayor of Auckland, they should run on a policy of increasing the MUL, to reduce housing costs.

But Mr Brown said Aucklanders had already agreed on the city’s “compact footprint” through developing the first Auckland Plan, and Dr Smith should stop debating it.

He said the plan was based on “a model that is developing truly internationally competitive cities with strong economic bases to them and that give rise to outstanding transport operations within a more compact framework”.

“Have a look at Melbourne,” he said. “Have a look at Hong Kong. Have a look at London. All of those cities, by and large, are operating off what is regarded as best practice.”

Comparing Auckland, one of the world’s smallest cities, to London and Hong Kong – two of the world’s three global centres is ridicolous.

But the comparison to Australian cities such as Melbourne is more sensible. Len Brown is saying that Auckland should be more compact, such as Melbourne and Australian cities are. So what are their urban densities? Demographia has this 2012 report:

  • Adelaide 1,400 people per square km
  • Brisbane 1,000
  • Canberra 1,100
  • Melbourne 1,600
  • Perth 1,300
  • Sydney 2,100

And what is Auckland? 2,400 people per square km.

Auckland has twice the urban density of Melbourne – which Len Brown cites as a model. If we increased the Auckland urban limit by 50%, then it would be the same as Melbourne.

Not all bad in Auckland

December 6th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Auckland has maintained its position as the world’s third most liveable city according to the annual Mercer Quality of Living survey.

The City of Sails ranks behind only Vienna and Zurich, and ahead of Sydney (10th), Wellington (13th), Melbourne (17th) and Perth (21st).

I love Vienna. I’d put it first also.

The results means Auckland is in the top 10 in all three major international quality of life surveys, coming 9th in the Monocle magazine list and 10th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s.

Auckland has a lot of positives. They just need more land, so house prices can come down.

[DPF: Note that this post was preset to appear at 2 pm, before the tornado struck this afternoon]

Three dead in Auckland tornado

December 6th, 2012 at 1:54 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Three people have been killed after severe weather – including an apparent tornado – hit west Auckland this afternoon.

Police sources have just confirmed that three had died in the west Auckland storm.

Fire services communications manager Peter Stevenson said two people had been killed when a slab of concrete fell onto a truck at the St Georges Rd intersection

At least seven people are being rushed to hospital, TV3 is reporting.

A tornado reportedly hit Hobsonville, tearing down trees and ripping panels from the motorway.

Fire, police and ambulance are racing to multiple callouts in Hobsonville and Upper Harbour and it is understood a number of people may have been injured as a result.

The military are also believed to have been called in to assist.

Air Force personnel are going door to door in Hobsonville to check if people are safe.

Emergency services are trying to clear roads that are blocked by trees.

Thought with all those impacted in Auckland. The full force of nature is both awesome and often deadly.

Watch this video at TVNZ. It is terrifying to see the force on the windows and trees. You would not want to be outside in it. I understand Aucklanders are being advised to stay inside for at least the next couple of hours.

Auckland Ethnicity

October 2nd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

White Europeans could lose majority status in Auckland in the next few years as the combined population of Asians, Pacific Islanders and Maori increases, Statistics New Zealand figures indicate.

While the city’s population was 76 per cent white European in 1976, projections show it will be 51 per cent in 2016, with further reductions in later years.

The forecast comes as the Herald begins a five-part series on ethnic diversity in Auckland, where about 40 per cent of the inhabitants were born overseas.

Nearly 70 per cent of Aucklanders in a Herald street poll said they were comfortable with the changing face of the city.

Massey University sociology professor Paul Spoonley, who made the Auckland population projection based on Statistics NZ figures, said it was a matter of “when” rather than “if” minority communities combined would outnumber white Europeans in Auckland.

I’m not sure why the Herald got someone to do their own projections, when Stats NZ do official projections themselves. The Stats NZ data, based on medium pop growth, for Auckland is:

2011 2016 2021
Europeans 59% 56% 53%
Maori 11% 12% 12%
Asian 22% 25% 27%
PI 16% 16% 17%
Total 100% 100% 100%

So that is a fair bit different from the Herald data – 56% in 2016, not 51%.

Personally I don’t care about people’s ethnicity or race very much.  I care about the ability of people to integrate into New Zealand – but that is not reserved to people of any particular ethnicity or race. By integration, I don’t mean assimilation. I’m also more focused on the ability of the second generation to integrate. Of course those who speak English as a second language will have some challenges integrating, but what is more important is do their kids integrate.

The Sky Tower

August 12th, 2012 at 12:09 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

It opened on a cold August night 15 years ago when fire works and army abseilers lit up a $75 million project that was set to change the Auckland skyline forever.

At 328 metres, the world’s 28th tallest tower took more than two years to build, using 15,000 cubic metres of concrete and almost 3000 tonnes of steel.

Plans for the tower date back to 1987, but they didn’t gain momentum until 1994 and within three years, on August 3, 1997, it had its grand opening.

I would have sworn the Sky Tower had been with us for more than 15 years. It has become so iconic that it is hard to recall central Auckland without it. I thought it was over 20 years old, but it isn’t.

Haven’t been up for a fair while. I do recall though the first time jumping up and down on the glass floor to test if it was as solid as claimed.

The Auckland Plan

September 21st, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has this morning tabled a $5.5 billion draft plan which he hopes will turn the city into the “most liveable city in the world”.

The 254-page plan, which was launched at the new Auckland Art Gallery by Mr Brown and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, includes the $2.2 billion central city rail loop, $2 billion of further waterfront development and $1.1 billion for central city development.

Aucklanders will have until October 25 to submit their views to council on four weighty volumes of plans – the draft Auckland Plan – a blueprint to improve the city’s quality of life over the next 20 to 30 years – and the Auckland City Centre Masterplan for 20 years, the Waterfront Masterplan for 30 years and Economic Development Strategy for 10 years.

I’ve not yet had time to read the draft plan.  But with Auckland projected to grow by 600,000 people over the next few decades it is vital they start working on how to cope with this population growth. I am of the view the city needs to expand both upwards and outwards.

What I do want to comment on at this stage is the fact that there can now be a coherent plan for Auckland. Under eight different Councils, this was impossible. The new Council doesn’t guarantee that the plan will be a good plan, but it does give Aucklanders the opportunity to develop a good plan for their city.

I’m not generally a big fan of ten or twenty year plans. They remind me too much of the USSR. but when it comes to infrastructure planning and investment, you do need to be looking long-term. The danger is when you try to expand such plans beyond those things which need to be decided on a long-term basis.

Kennett on Auckland

March 30th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Rebecca Stevenson at Stuff reports:

Auckland mayor Len Brown should “just do it” and build the proposed $2 billion city rail loop, former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett says.

Mr Kennett was in Auckland yesterday discussing his leadership of Melbourne and the lessons that can be applied to New Zealand’s largest city as it attempts to become super-sized.

As the architect of the “Kennett Revolution” when he came to office in 1992 he drastically cut state spending in Victoria, “offered 50,000 public servants opportunities beyond the public sector” and turned the city into one of the world’s best event cities through an investment programme which included building the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Kennett was one of the great Premiers of an Australian state. I always hoped he would become Prime Minister one day.

The former premier said Mr Brown needed to choose about five key projects for the supercity from the “wordy” 30-year Auckland Plan out for public discussion.

He recommended a national convention centre, cruise ship terminal, a Pacific region office of the United Nations, an Aussie Rules franchise and to “turn the city to the sea”, reversing Auckland’s inward-looking design.

Not so sure about an UN office, but I like the idea of an Aussie Rules franchise – that could become huge.

Mr Kennett said he opposed borrowing for operational spend but approved it for infrastructure investment. He would not hesitate at all to borrow money to build the link because over time it would add to a less congested city.

“Two billion spent today is chicken feed in 20 or 30 years. I’m currently advancing a new underground rail system for $100b. In 50 years that will be a drop in the bucket.”

I agree that borrowing for infrastructure is good, while borrowing for operational spending is bad. And if Len wants the CBD rail loop, then he should go for it regardless of the Government.

The blueing of Auckland

April 4th, 2010 at 6:55 pm by David Farrar

Matt Nippert in the Herald on Sunday looks at the blueing of Auckland.

I can certainly recall the days when National held just half a dozen seats or so in Auckland, and now it is Labour that is reduce to single figures in Auckland.

Almost one in 10 Aucklanders voted National for the first time in the 2008 general election. Head-to-head, there was a 15 per cent swing to the right, and four middle-Auckland electorates changed their political colours.

National’s average vote in Auckland was 48.3%, compared to 38.0% in Wellington and 42.1% in Christchurch.

The National over Labour gap in Auckland was 15.4%, compared to 10.9% nationally. Only rural NZ had a bigger gap

Auckland also had the largest swing in the country. National went up 6.9% and Labour went down 8.9%.

This movement was particularly pronounced in the city south of the bridge and north of Manukau: young Nikki Kaye unseated Judith Tizard in Auckland Central; Pansy Wong crucified the opposition in the newly created Botany; leopard-skin-clad Paula Bennett stormed home in Waitakere; and burly Samoan rugby player Sam Lotu-Iiga claimed Maungakiekie from old-school unionist Mark Gosche.

The print copy has an amusing sketch of Paula, Sam and Nikki respectively as Wonder Woman, Super Man and well I am not sure but I think Sheena.

Repeatedly, Labour MPs interviewed for this story refer to their electoral defeat as a movement of tides.

That of course is part of it, but not all of it. For may part, here are some of the factors which led to National winning seats off Labour in Auckland.

  1. Right candidates for the seats
  2. They ran campaigns to win the seats, not just party vote campaigns. A good local campaign will life electorate vote and party vote.
  3. The boundary changes were generally favourable to National, especially in areas like Maungakiekie.
  4. Incumbent MPs were retiring or weak
  5. The Government had lost touch – ie time for a change

Now if Labour are placing all their faith in (5) no longer being an issue, then they may get a shock.

The implication is that if the tide of support went out in 2008, it’ll come back in eventually. But, a year and a half later, there is little sign of a sea change that will wash the left back to power.

One has to make it happen, not just wait for the tide.

Chris Carter, whose electorate seat Te Atatu swung almost 20 percentage points to National from Labour, is almost blase about Patel’s change of allegiance: “By and large the Indian community is still with us – and the South African one is for the other guys. That’s the way it’s always been.”

But not necessarily the way it always will stay.

While Trotter has been bitterly attacked by Labour backbenchers for his diagnosis, their leader concedes he may have a point. “I think that’s probably right,” says Goff of the loss of ‘Waitakere Man’: “There’s a group of people out there who thought that Labour had become too nanny-statist, telling people what to do and not to do.”

Not just nanny state. Too reluctant to give tax cuts, and too keen to grow government spending.

Waterfront Options

February 12th, 2010 at 5:53 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports on Auckland options:

  1. $23.9 million to remove the two 1912 cargo sheds and creating a cup village with temporary and hired structures
  2. $27.7 million involves minor refurbishment of the sheds to provide covered space for the cup
  3. $31.3 million involves significant refurbishment of the sheds with a focus on keeping one or both over the medium term
  4. $97 million has a a $49.2m budget for a cruise ship terminal, plus $15.6m for wharf repairs

A dedicated website has the four options and allows feedback.

Meanwhile the Dominion Post reports on Wellington’s RWC plans:

A Rugby World Cup village on Wellington’s waterfront – centred around a yet-to-be-built wharewaka – will become the focus of celebrations at next year’s tournament.

More than 1200 partygoers will be able to pack into the building and a marquee next door, with the city council set to rent the wharewaka, or canoe house, its staff and its facilities for the event.

It will be the focus of Rugby World Cup celebrations, costing ratepayers about $150,000 – considerably less than a $100 million plan to build a party zone in Auckland.

Sounds good to me.

Why the Sevens will stay in Wellington

February 7th, 2010 at 11:40 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post is worried:

The vultures are circling. As the Wellington sevens kicked off in bright sunshine yesterday (is it ever any different in the capital?) word emerged that both Auckland and Dunedin are contemplating bids for host rights to the New Zealand leg of the international sevens circuit when it comes up for grabs again in 2012.

I don’t think there is any need to worry.

The Sevens won’t go to Auckland for two reasons:

  1. No one will turn up
  2. No one will notice they are on

Auckland is notoriously unreliable when it comes to attending sporting events. And the Sevens are more than a sporting event – they are a two day festival, and part of the festival is seeing people all through town in their costumes. You won’t in Auckland.

As for Dunedin, you have to be crazy to hodl the Sevens in Dunedin.

In one sense Dunedin would be a great venue. The venue would sell out easily, and the locals would definitely love dressing up and attending. It could almost do as well as Wellington.

But the problem is that half of Dunedin would get burnt to the ground, as the cost of hosting it.

Students (and others) in Dunedin start burning couches and generally rioting after just a couple of hours of drinking. You’d have to be mad to want to host a game which is basically two days of non-stop drinking rugby.

Can you imagine 25,000 students and others pouring out of the stadium after NZ wins (or loses) the Sevens. George Street would disappear in the rioting.

Banks on Rail

October 12th, 2009 at 8:10 am by David Farrar

Auckland City Mayor John Banks calls for an underground rail loop between Britomart and Mt Eden:

Quite simply, New Zealand needs Auckland to work, and for that to happen, it needs to work efficiently. Auckland cannot rely on roads and motorways alone to meet the region’s future transport needs, as the city’s roading network is already nearing the practical limits of expansion.

The key thing is, it is not a choice between improving roads and public transport. They are not substitutes, but complementary.

The number of trips made on Auckland’s transport system by 2051 is expected to increase by 65 per cent from 3.2 million to 5.2 million a day.

Plans for an underground rail loop from Britomart southward underneath the CBD to Mt Eden have been debated for nearly a century.

Initial economic evaluation of the CBD tunnel shows that it attracts a higher return than many major roading projects of a similar scale, particularly as rail can shift much larger numbers than any other mode.

So long as it is cheaper per than Labour’s plan to spend $1 to $2 billion on a single tunnel to help then retain Mt Albert!

The Western Ring Route, State Highway 20 and incremental improvements to other motorway networks and roads are critical. However, these improvements and the new Central Connector and development of the bus lane network will meet future demands only if we complete a fully integrated transport system, including a CBD rail loop.

The capacity of Britomart at peak times would potentially more than double to 40 trains per hour, if it were a through-station. These are compelling reasons why we need to push through Britomart, up under Albert St, beneath Karangahape Rd and on to Mt Eden and Kingsland.

Because of its higher capacity, rail is the most effective and efficient way of providing for Auckland’s growth in travel demand, especially to the congested CBD.

So why a loop?

This CBD loop is no ordinary transport project. This project looks ahead 100 years, to the kind of centre a true super city aspires to.

Super cities all over the world have strong centres and with vision, good design and a sound business case, this project unlocks the potential of Auckland’s centre by enabling much greater access from all parts of the region. This will reinforce the existing role of central Auckland as a regional destination for workers, students and residents and it will cater for the projected growth in the size and intensity of the centre of Greater Auckland.

Enhancing access through a CBD rail loop is critical to the central area’s contribution to lifting the entire region’s (and therefore the country’s) economic performance.

This rail loop is more than a rail link. It is a transformational economic development project at the centre of the new Super City.

So what is the cost?

The currently estimated cost of a CBD rail loop is between $1 billion and $1.5 billion. If the rail loop is not constructed, we do have a good handle on that cost, which includes further road and motorway construction to meet demand (at least $3.3 billion for roading and additional parking capacity, according to the Auckland Regional Transport Authority’s latest estimate).

If it can be done for that much money, the economic argument really stacks up.