Yeah, put up your hand if you’re mega-excited by the line-up for this weekend in Auckland. Who wouldn’t be? There’s a fantastic feast of events on - from Shakespeare at The Pop-Up Globe, to the Heart of the City’s 10 Days of Fashion in the City to the Auckland Coffee Festival to extravaganzas like the Carabosse Fire Garden and the rest of the Auckland Arts Festival activity – not to mention all the amazing bog standard regulars like Silo movies, markets, music in the parks, dolphin tours in the Gulf, round the bays, sculpture in the gardens, art exhibitions, car shows and treasures hunts. It feels like we are sooooo spoiled for choice now. Auckland feels so international, so vibrant. Who needs Sydney?
It wasn’t like this 10 years ago. What happened? People. Moving here. That’s what happened. Did you notice? About 60,000 of them each year. The rest of the world heard about this extraordinary little neck of the woods at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. And they want a piece of it. And they can. Because we said come. Of course we jumped at the opportunity…..motivated, entrepreneurial imports bring skills, talent, innovative ways of doing things, and the big melting pot becomes more flavoursome.
We discovered, these people want to see things, to participate, to be entertained, to be informed, to be thrilled. They want fun. They want to do stuff. As our numbers swell, suddenly it’s worthwhile investing in diverse events people can afford to attend. Yep, more people make this city a whole lot better.
Except, if we invite these people to stay, we’ve got to house them. It’s a poor host that invites guests and doesn’t provide decent accommodation, especially for longer stayers. But that’s exactly what we are doing. More and more people are frustrated by our anachronistic systems that are so choked we simply can’t keep up. All we do is talk. And argue. It’s not a good look.
And then there’s the traffic problems. Congested roads are something we all have to live with. All the talk hasn’t made much difference. The City Rail Link is starting to happen. But I can’t see how this is going to improve that damned trip over the bridge?
We really should be a bit more visionary – more car sharing is an obvious solution. Driverless cars?
The Unitary Plan was designed so Auckland can meet its economic and housing needs while protecting and enhancing its unique identity. In April this year, hearings on the plan finish and the report goes to Council for ratification? in July.
The way forward on all this is obviously intensification. We have got to go up. It’s what the plan is all about. All those opposed to intensification, I bet many of them are the same people trotting along to the Globe, to the Aotea Centre, to the Domain, to High Street, to the ferries of the Gulf and all those other places poised for fun this weekend. Do they realise the reason they’re getting served up this incredible diet of entertainment is the huge influx of people that have made it all possible? And that if we continue to play bad host, we stand to jeopardise the good times.
If we don’t hurry up and resolve our housing and traffic crisis, it may all just turn pear-shaped. Our guests may just stop coming. Who could blame them?
So come on Auckland. Get it together and hurry up. There are so many great examples around the globe we can follow. It’s time to stop talking Auckland Council, Government – start doing! Free up the systems so things can happen now.