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Auckland Council The Auckland Plan

E pā ana ki Tāmaki Makaurau

About Auckland

Auckland is a special place for its environment, its people and the lifestyles it offers.

What makes Auckland special

Tāmaki Makaurau, the Māori name for Auckland, means Tāmaki desired by many.

A visual showing some things that make Auckland special. It shows Rangitoto island, , fishing, birdlife and maunga.


This name refers to the abundance of natural resources, strategic vantage points, portage routes, and mahinga kai which first attracted Māori, and then other settlers.

The spiritual and cultural connection Māori have to Tāmaki Makaurau is tied to their relationship with the land, maunga, harbours and waters.

Quality of life

Auckland has a worldwide reputation for its quality of life. In large part this is because of its outstandingly beautiful natural environment and the lifestyle opportunities it offers.

Auckland's beaches, harbours, rainforest-covered ranges, maunga, productive rural areas and gulf islands are all within relatively easy proximity for residents and visitors to enjoy.

This stunning natural environment is blended with world-class universities, major arts, cultural and sporting events, museums, theatres, galleries, and history-rich urban villages.

Auckland is increasingly displaying unique characteristics as a dynamic Asia-Pacific hub.

Population diversity

There has been sustained population growth in Auckland because it is a place of opportunity. People want to raise a family and pursue personal, business and career aspirations here.

Auckland is ethnically and culturally diverse. It is home to people from over 120 different ethnicities.

Diverse Auckland

Most Aucklanders consider that growing cultural and lifestyle diversity has made Auckland a better place to live.

The Auckland Plan 2050 acknowledges the special place of Māori as the tangata whenua of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Crown has specific obligations to Māori under the nation’s founding document, te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi.

Legislation places obligations and decision making requirements on local government that are specific to Māori.

How Auckland has changed since the first Auckland Plan

Since the first Auckland Plan was adopted in 2012 several important things have happened.

Auckland Unitary Plan

Auckland now has a Unitary Plan, which is our statutory rule book for planning. It is based on the strategic direction set by the 2012 Auckland Plan and:

  • outlines what can be built where
  • provides for a compact urban form
  • describes how to maintain the rural and freshwater and marine environments.

The Auckland Unitary Plan indicates where Auckland's population, commercial and industrial growth can be accommodated.

Independent Māori Statutory Board

The Independent Māori Statutory Board has adopted the Māori Plan for Tāmaki Makaurau. This 30-year plan sets out Māori aspirations and outcomes, and it gives direction to the Board to prioritise its Schedule of Issues of Significance and actions for Māori. It also enables Auckland Council to address actions for Māori outcomes and act in accordance with te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi.


Auckland Council and central government collaborated to enact the Housing Accord and the Special Housing Areas Act 2013 so that housing could be fast-tracked while the Auckland Unitary Plan was being developed.

More recently, the Government has taken steps to provide sufficient development capacity and accelerate the supply of housing where demand is high. This includes through the introduction of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 and the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021.


Central government and Auckland Council have worked together on transport planning for Auckland. Through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, they have agreed on the direction for the development of Auckland's transport system over the next 30 years.

Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority

The Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority was established in 2014 to co-govern 14 tūpuna maunga. The establishment of this statutory authority was an historic achievement. It reflected the role of mana whenua in Auckland and signalled a transformation in the way that mana whenua and Auckland Council partner in decision-making.


Significant infrastructure developments since 2018 include:

Auckland's role in New Zealand

The economy

Auckland is the largest commercial centre in New Zealand, is home to around a third of the population and contributes almost 40 per cent of the nation's gross domestic product.

Most migrants to New Zealand choose to settle in Auckland because of the wide range of employment and commercial opportunities.

Auckland is the main gateway in and out of New Zealand, with the largest and most active international airport, largest international sea port and a critical freight distribution function.

Its scale and commercial and industrial opportunities means it is able to develop infrastructure and attract highly specialised talent that drives economic development.

Its employment diversity, market size and business clustering enable it to attract high value economic activity and international investment other parts of New Zealand cannot.

Auckland's contribution to the economy lifts the standard of living for all New Zealanders. New Zealand needs Auckland to succeed, just as Auckland needs the rest of New Zealand.

The effect of Auckland's size

Auckland's large population size relative to the rest of New Zealand is likely to remain during the next 30 years.

By 2048 Stats NZ projects that Auckland could represent 37 per cent of the national population.

Auckland's scale means it is able to support higher education and nurture highly specialised businesses across a range of industries, such as healthcare and research.

This has attracted young people from across New Zealand, and particularly the upper North Island, to migrate to Auckland for work and educational opportunities.

Auckland within the upper North Island

Auckland and the rest of the upper North Island are closely linked, and work together to achieve shared objectives.

Northland, Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty are home to over half of New Zealand's population and generate more than half of the national gross domestic product.

Many issues that arise across these regions demand cooperation if they are to be satisfactorily addressed. The environment, for example, does not recognise administrative boundaries, particularly in regards to marine and terrestrial weeds and pests.

In the north, road and potential rail freight improvements between Auckland and Whangarei will increase the need to work collaboratively.

There are a number of opportunities for collaboration in the short, medium and long-term, including:

  • integrated business case development for infrastructure
  • combined land use planning
  • agreeing on a common evidence base for the management of threats to biodiversity.

There are challenges as well, such as:

  • current funding mechanisms
  • institutional constraints
  • political continuity.

Working together

The Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA) was established in 2011 and renewed in 2017. Its purpose is to respond to and manage a range of common interests and issues.

The members are:

  • Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional councils
  • Auckland Council
  • Whangārei District Council
  • Hamilton City Council
  • Tauranga City Council.

The impact of Auckland's growth on its neighbours

Based on recent trends, Auckland is likely to continue to be an attractive place for settlement for migrants to New Zealand, and growth from internal migration and natural increase (the number of births over deaths) will continue.

Despite Auckland's high amenity and liveability, growth can have negative consequences: increased demand for housing, when unmatched by supply, can drive up the cost of housing; and poor travel choices leads to more congestion on the roads.

The rising cost of living in Auckland, particularly the cost of housing, has led to a 'halo' growth effect in neighbouring regions. Auckland-based investors and those relocating out of Auckland have escalated demand for property.

This is particularly significant in northern Waikato given the extent and speed of current and projected future population growth and how close some settlements are to Auckland.

The challenge is to mitigate any less positive impacts and share the prosperity that arises from population growth.

Transport inter-connectedness

Transport links between Northland / Whangārei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga are critical to the economic and social success of each area. This is shown in the following inter-regional connections information (map published June 2018).

These linkages, whether by sea, road or rail, move significant freight volumes, particularly of imports and exports. These same transport links also serve the needs of New Zealand's tourism industry.

Auckland Airport is New Zealand's main passenger access point. In recent years, the airport's passenger numbers and cargo volumes have increased sharply, as has commercial development around the airport, placing operational pressures on the airport and its main access routes.

Auckland's major sea port and the inland port at Wiri, along with Tauranga's Metroport at Te Papapa, receive significant quantities of freight that are distributed daily via the road and rail networks.

Along with the Port of Tauranga and Northport in Whangārei, these ports play a major role in the freight network and carry over half of all New Zealand freight.

Ports benefit economies, with their freight, cruise ships, passengers and associated businesses.

Energy and resource interdependency

The majority of energy used in Auckland comes from a distance, with petrol, diesel and jet fuel from Northland via the Refinery Auckland Pipeline and electricity via Transpower's national network.

Auckland imports nearly one third of its metal aggregate needs from other parts of the upper North Island, particularly from Waikato and Northland. The demand for aggregates in Auckland is expected to increase to support growth and development unless more sustainable building methods are adopted. Until then, ensuring accessible supply is a matter of importance.

Increased water supply is needed to support Auckland's projected growth with an application lodged to take a further 200,000 cubic metres of water from the Waikato River.

Related information