Auckland – 176 years of neglect



Auckland Anniversary Day and the lack of real public transport, house affordability, better civic planning and run away sprawl drives home the problem that for 176 years, Auckland has not been given the infrastructure it has needed.

We have a Government who has no interest of solving the housing affordability crisis because the property bubble is what is keeping GDP from crashing. Public Transport is increasingly becoming gentrified and the poverty and inequality that grips vast tracks of the city simply grow unchecked.

That a Casino is the defining feature of our skyline is nothing to be proud of.

To be fair, there are corners of wonder. A central city that has a real culture and interesting night life, a City Council dedicated to creating free art and events and a thriving theatre and comedy scene.

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There is also the beautiful harbour.

But these are exceptions, not the rule. Auckland has the gift of luck, not civic leadership.

Auckland represents 176 years of neglect built with all the vision of a blind cyclops.


  1. Yes well Im sure Rome was a spectacular sight for captured Teutonic warriors as they entered it at first in chains as well… but that still didn’t detract from the fact that the bread and circuses to keep the populace amused served to blind them to the slave built opulence they took for granted…

    And the Colosseum the captured Teuton entered for his training to eventually be served up as entertainment for that populace to enjoy his death would have seemed spectacular at first…

    A casino as a centerpiece… a pit of shady human enterprise as embodying our finest symbolic aspirations as a society ,…where major trade deals get signed off to negate our national sovereignty …

    An ‘arts culture’ built to entertain – not inform – just to entertain ,aka MSM and distract from the Rome around us.

    McPhail and Gadsby had more ‘ art’ to their entertainment. And more informative social and political commentary.

    And here’s the rub if you don’t see the analogy between Rome and Planet Key : it wasn’t internal infighting or external barbarian invasions that eventually destroyed Rome – it was the immorality of its leaders and the gradual long term accruing of too much stolen wealth that collapsed that Empires currency values through inflation.

    Similar in some ways to Keys govt except the difference here is that the housing bubble when it collapses is going to be a sudden and violent deflation of our economy. So we will on one hand have a resetting of prices to what properties really are worth – but still have to service the debt of an item that was grossly overpriced.

    So what happens when the Chinese panic invest further into the Auckland housing market , drive up prices even more, – then because of ever increasing regulations by China to prevent capital outflow regulate to restrict foreign offshore personal investments?

    Wham !!! …. there’s going to be a lot of people sitting on white elephants if their not careful…paying off mountains of debt in devalued portfolios .

    Perhaps the govt could purchase some of them and that would help to solve the run down state housing stock the neo liberal govts of the past 32 years have been busy creating…

    At least that would have a silver lining in part to so many of the depredations of neo liberalism…

  2. Martyn, it’s not often that I totally disagree with you, but on this occasion you have demonstrated a severe lack of thought, and your statement ‘for 176 years, Auckland has not been given the infrastructure it has needed’ is just plain silly.

    Cities are not ‘given’ infrastructure. Infrastructure is constructed by allocating resources.

    And like most city planners, you misuse the word need. Humans do not need any of the infrastructure that defines Auckland; they need fresh air, fresh water, nutritious food and protection from extreme temperatures; everything you describe as needs are wants.

    If you examine the history of Auckland you will recognise that Auckland got whatever a tiny group of colonists wanted.

    Firstly it got what the colonists wanted -a place to load and unload boats. And then bigger boats. And then steamships. And then bigger steamships. And then container ships.

    Later it got roads to facilitate fast movement of troops. Then it got a railway system to move goods to and from the port. Then if got a small airport. Followed by a bigger airport. Then a bigger airport. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

    You can argue that there was misallocation of resources in the past, and there was poor planning. And I would agree with you.

    However, that state of affairs is not unusual because city planners tend to be amongst the most ignorant of people on Earth but overflowing with hubris. Therefore, most cities -especially those in colonised nations with rapidly growing populations- are an appalling mess.

    What most city dwellers fail to recognise is that all cities are inherently unsustainable because they are dependent on rapidly depleting resources, and most city dwellers fail to recognise that the burgeoning global environmental catastrophe is primarily caused by people living in cities. The response of city dwellers to those realities is normally a knee-jerk denial because most have a huge emotional investment in their dwellings and their lifestyle.

    The great global unravelling that is a consequence of severe misallocation of resources and severe population overshoot, epitomised in NZ by Auckland, has already begun, and will accelerate over the coming years.

    • I tend to agree with your sentiment. Indeed, this talk about large, built up cities being more “efficient” in using resources and infrastructure is only partly true. Many large cities are unsustainable, and have endless issues, just visit the megacities all over the planet, see the slums, the antisocial atmosphere, the divisions between gentry and the poor. There is usually much pollution and strain on water and other supplies, so that many cities depend on resources from distant geographic areas.

      We have Auckland Council and the mad Mayor Len constantly beat the drum of needing to grow up and intensify, because, oh because, there is going to be an increase of a million people by the 2040s, so another 400,000 households which need another 400,000 dwellings.

      While I agree with some sensible building up to a few levels in suitable areas, I oppose plans to allow up to 7 storeys in what they now call the Town House and Apartment Building zones that are planned to be brought in under the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

      It started with the Auckland Plan, and the Unitary Plan is supposed to help implement it, with its objectives, policies and rules.

      Nobody though considers there may be negative consequences of growing Auckland up to 2.5 million population in the sensitive geographical and environmental area it covers already. Building further out makes no sense, but increasing the population does also make no sense.

      Watercare have only capacity for another 45,000 households to supply with water, and they need to tap another 200 million litres a day from the Waikato River to supply another 400,000 households. So consider that, and how it may impact on the Waikato River and region, where we have over years already had higher incidents of droughts, due to climate change.

      The whole north of the North Island is expected to get much drier, with less rain in future, and that means there will simply not be enough water to supply 2.5 million people, unless we force people to use much less, which will only be achieved by increasing prices.

      Massive infrastructure is also needed for transport, but the Inner City Rail Link project will already use up about 80 percent of funds available for transport infrastructure for Auckland, so we get little improvements in other areas of transport.

      All will cost extra, same with extra schools and so, and the costs will have to be born by us all. They say more people means more productivity, jobs and also consumers, creating economic growth, but they also need to use more local resources, which means less exports of primary products.

      We will need more electricity, and should electric cars be the norm, prepare for your first needed nuclear power plant here, as what we have will not suffice to also power all those cars.

      So we have growth obsessed Mayors, many on Council and in Central Government, all wanting to “grow” Auckland, where we already are having the fourth most expensive housing market as a recent survey found (on an affordability scale).

      This is total madness, and re that Casino and the Sky Tower, I was one not happy with that structure to shape the skyline of Auckland, we could have had something better, not built by Sky City Corporation. But there we go, it is big business, with which Council and Central Government have made their agreements and pacts, and they dictate to us what is being done.

      The future of Auckland will look like becoming just another failed big city project, expensive to live in, and offering little in the quality of life for many. Multilevel slums will house the poor and low paid, and they will be the ghettos of the future.

  3. Same for the Provinces which are now retreating as their economies shrink Martyn.

    There has been to many years of neglect all around from successive Governments qho just make short term fixes to our infrastructure assets so just look at the rail network and local roading to see how they have been cash starved over the l,ast 30 yrs to make budgets appear better.

    Penny wise pound foolish mate that is NZ today.

    We are sinking as a past successful leading nation in the global sphere.

    • But someone managed to find around $15 million to build a monstrosity in New Plymouth -the Len Lye Centre- a monument to stupidity and misallocation of resources, dedicated to a dead artist who had nothing to do with New Plymouth.

      And there is never any shortage of money for sports stadiums, flags and banners.

      Bread and circuses at the end of empire.

  4. You been to Invercargill lately? You may of heard of Invercargill. It’s a small city in the hub of the region that produces our economy. Unlike Auckland, which only spends that money.
    If it were not for neo liberalism stealing away with the service populations to supplant them in Auckland we’d see a flourishing economy and a well populated rural southland hinterlands.
    Instead ? We have a dull little town called Auckland surviving on the guff puffed out by its nouveau riche latte addicts to help delude themselves into believing Auckland’s worth the debt it’s lumbered the rest of NZ with.
    Auckland doesn’t need a better ‘ infrastructure’, it needs less people.
    Ironically, If dear old Aucklander and general fabulous bloke Tim Shadbolt hadn’t become the mayor of Invercargill and made it flourish, as it does to this day, Invercargill would have remained the ghost town it became after those treasonous times during the 1980’s.
    When the truth hits hard, the shoe will be on the other foot.
    NZ Herald headlines “ Auckland. The largest ghetto in the South Pacific? “

    • You must have heard of the “Queen Street Farmer” and his many various professional hangers on.

      But Auckland actually produces stuff also, just not milk, cheese, meat, fruit, wine, fish and timber, like the regions do.

      Nevertheless, there is a bit of arrogance that radiates from the urbanites, particularly from the leafy suburbs and some expensive apartment complexes near the Waitemata Harbour waterfront.

      I do not find that much humanity here anymore.

  5. I just listened to the RNZ news, and they report that Auckland Transport is bringing in some hefty fare increases for public transport users, especially for short trips.

    We can expect much more of this.

    First they hugely increased cash fares, to force all to buy the AT HOP cards, now where most use the cards, the previously reasonable prices will go up, and this will just be the start.

    The “most liveable city in the world” is a BS slogan that is being propagated, I have little enthusiasm for what is going to come upon us here. So maybe it is time to look for a move out of this place?

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