Editorial: What slogan for a city you cannot afford?

Auckland - not a cheap place to live.

Auckland - not a cheap place to live.

EDITORIAL: Wherever you go in your free time these days, it usually has a slogan.

Taranaki, for example, is 'like no other', Whanganui is 'all you need - and then some', and Bulls is, as you would expect, 'unforgettabull'. (Geddit?)

But Auckland, the 'City of Sails', 'the place desired by many', is probably in need of a complete branding rethink as we wind our way into 2017.

How about: 'Auckland - it's all right for a visit, I suppose, but you'll be lucky to be able to afford to live here'?

READ MORE: Auckland exodus expected to put pressure on the regions

What do you think? It's wordy, I'll grant you that, but it's fairly accurate. Or how about: "Auckland - it's really pricey".

In fact, it's now so expensive the Salvation Army has warned regional councils to gear up for an influx of Aucklanders who can no longer afford to live in the city, driven out by high rents, sky-high house prices and rising business and council costs.

The city's state housing tenants and homeless can already apply for $5000 to move to the regions.

But some 10,000 Aucklanders actually left in 2016, and the Sallys expect this figure to grow this year and in the future as the population increases and even more pressure is put on the property market.

Grim news if you're an Aucklander struggling to get by in an expensive place to live, but surely an opportunity for those of us in the rest of the country?

After all, 60 per cent of New Zealanders live outside of cities, and this figure is set to grow in 2017 and beyond.

The predicted redistribution of the country's population offers plenty of positives - if the planners are allowed to get to work.

New homes will be needed, along with better roads, more shops, and new schools. Development drives the nation's economy, although this development will have to be properly managed.

Although minister for economic development Simon Bridges had yet to comment on the Salvation Army's forecast, Labour says the regions have suffered under-investment in recent years, and it's time to remedy the situation.

"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," said Labour spokesperson for regional development, David Clark.

He said the Bay of Plenty, for example, contains 6.3 per cent of the population, but received just four per cent of the roading infrastructure budget.

Without action to invest in all corners of the country, there is a risk of a two-speed economy developing, which would be bad news for all of us.

We need to move forward as one nation, rather than Auckland and the rest.

Otherwise our slogan will have to be: "Auckland - it's where all the money's gone."

 - Taranaki Daily News

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