Editorial: Auckland growth strips provinces

WARWICK RASMUSSEN - DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 09/10/2012

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OPINION: New data show our largest city looks set to dominate our population for some time yet, and the rest of the country should be paying close attention.

The Statistics New Zealand information revealed that in 20 years Auckland would be home for almost 40 per cent of all New Zealanders.

That is simply staggering and an unhealthy direction for the country to be heading in.

The question is, can it be stopped or slowed down?

Early in the last century there was a decent balance between our rural/provincial population and our largest cities. As the 20th century progressed those smaller areas fell victim to mass urbanisation.

Widespread use of cars meant people wanted to live close to where they worked, and often the only option was in a large centre like Auckland.

The draw of our biggest city is obvious: it's vibrant, there's plenty on offer and location-wise it's within driving distance of much of the North Island.

But there are also downsides. Geographically it's poorly placed at the narrowest point of the North Island, which makes travel, transportation and urban growth a nightmare.

Billions of dollars each year are wasted because of the city's daily congestion.

Provincial centres like Manawatu need to work harder to capitalise on these downsides and attract people to live and work outside of Auckland.

The opportunities are there. More and more jobs simply don't require workers to have to work at a specific location. People can now work from their homes, a cafe or even from their car if they have the right gear.

Luring people to the provinces is easier said than done and shouldn't just be done for reasons of self-preservation and protection.

It is unhealthy for any country to be so dominated and so reliant on one city, no matter how large it is.

There needs to be more of a spread of skills, services and economic spend around the country, rather than our largest centre becoming a monopoly and squeezing the life out of the rest of New Zealand.

One More Thing: We get a lot of interesting messages from our Text The Editor line. One example this week was a person who commended us for the photo of the yarn-bombed drover statue in Feilding.

While the person liked the photo, they asked why the statue had two right hands. Upon our initial check of the published photo it looked as if the reader was right. A closer inspection showed the angle of the shot created a type of optical illusion.

We can assure everyone that the drover does have one left hand and one right hand.

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