Auckland exodus expected to put extra pressure on regions
Regional councils are being warned to gear up for an influx of Aucklanders.
An estimated 10,000 Aucklanders left Auckland last year, according to an upcoming Salvation Army report, and the figure is expected to grow over the coming years.
The charity's Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit will release its annual State of the Nation report, which found that increasing numbers of Aucklanders are choosing to move, on February 8.
Report author Alan Johnson said last year's figures are based on estimates produced by Statistics New Zealand and show a marked increase from previous years.
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Former Mangere Bridge barista Felix Krause is one such Aucklander who chose to leave and set up a new cafe in Waihi Beach.
He said the increased costs of living and working in Auckland forced him and his family out.
"The escalation of house prices and rent were the things that broke the back for us," he said.
"But there were also other things like increasing business and council costs."
Johnson said that Krause is likely many Aucklanders who are in a position to choose to move and he expects this will be a growing trend over the coming years.
"There's an upward pressure on housing markets within 200km of Auckland and that would indicate to me that there is an increased outward migration from Auckland," he said.
"I think this is the beginning of a longer term trend that could go on for 20 years and these communities need to start preparing as many of these people will be going there to retire and they have particular needs they won't necessarily be catered for."
Johnson sees a lot of positives in this redistribution of the population as long as the Government and local councils plan appropriately.
"The impact of this shift of population to a place like the Bay of Plenty could be quite significant.
"In five years you could see tens of thousands move so there needs to be planning about how to make use of this increased economic activity."
Labour spokesperson for regional development David Clark said the regions have suffered from under-investment in recent years but hopes that will change.
"The Government has identified in its regional growth reports where the opportunities are, but to date they haven't supplied funding to those places to support local initiatives," he said.
"In my view the Government should come to the party and support those initiatives as it will be a story of not only local success but New Zealand success."
He said Labour has pledged to spend $200 million on regional infrastructure and he is concerned that despite 60 per cent of New Zealanders living outside of cities [specifically outside of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch], many regions don't receive the level of investment to match their contribution to the economy.
"In the Bay of Plenty for example there is 6.3 per cent of the population, but in terms of roading infrastructure, they received just 4 per cent and in this area there is broadband penetration of 69 per cent but the national average is 75 per cent.
"It's quite common that you see that the level of investment, the level of connectivity and basic infrastructure is behind where the level of population is.
"New Zealand can't afford a two-speed economy - it needs both the regions and the urban centres thriving."
MInister for Economic Development Simon Bridges was contacted for comment.