I live in Auckland and I love the place; it’s beautiful harbours (yes there are two!) beaches, parks, exciting shopping precincts and its many other attractions. The problem is---getting to them. As the roads become more clogged, despite huge efforts to build motorways and improve public transport, our journeys become nightmarish in their scope and it will only get worse.
Now add the problem of affordable housing and you get a picture of an increasingly large group of ‘Aucklanders’ who have no hope of ever owning their own homes. Rentals are beyond many too, if they aspire to living the ‘better’ suburbs.’ This means that Auckland is becoming two cities; those who can afford to live in the inner suburbs and the ‘hidden jewels’ in outlying parts and those who are stuck with the sense that they are getting nowhere.
There is another New Zealand, beyond the Bombay Hills and the ‘Tourist’ road to the north of Auckland. Why are Aucklanders not heading up (or down) these pathways to a more affordable and possibly less stressful life? We have various Governments espousing ‘regional development’ initiatives, but they have come to nothing if the continuing growth of Auckland is the measure of success. What is worse some Government ‘reforms’ have killed off some of the infrastructure that would have perhaps helped with the growth of industry and trading opportunities n the provinces: I mean of course the continuing demise of the railways. Both major parties have played their part in selling off or cutting the railways services.
We need real regional development, not just platitudes at election times. There needs to be ‘real’ tax breaks to get companies to either start up or relocate to the towns and cities of provincial NZ. Our immigration services should play a part whereby new New Zealanders are given incentives to resist the temptation of joining the mad Auckland rush. We could give incentives re training allowances and ‘bonding’ new trainees in a range of ‘industries’ so that they commit to areas outside Auckland, making such moves more generous according to the need to ‘fill certain’ geographical’ zones. None of these policies will come to fore unless we have a brave Government, driving such moves.
The challenge is there for Government and regional bodies to take up the opportunity to make New Zealand a more ‘balanced’ country, where my dear Auckland is not the only focus’ for our future as a nation.