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Auckland Council The Auckland Plan

Auckland's key challenges


We have identified the three most important challenges facing Auckland which we must address if we are to have the future we want.

To achieve the Auckland we want by 2050 we must address the challenges of high population growth, ensuring prosperity is shared amongst all Aucklanders, and arresting and reversing environmental degradation. 

Key Challenge 1: Population growth and its implications

Auckland's population has grown faster over the last number of years than projected by Stats NZ.

More than 1.6 million people live in Auckland already. Between now and 2043 this could increase by another 730,000 people to reach 2.4 million. This could mean another 320,000 dwellings and 270,000 jobs for Auckland.

Auckland's population growth is driven by both natural growth, meaning more births than deaths, and migration from overseas and from other parts of New Zealand. Natural growth is more easily planned for over the long-term, while changes in immigration patterns often require a more immediate response.

The rate and speed of Auckland's population growth puts pressure on our communities, our environment, our housing and our roads. It means increasing demand for space, infrastructure and services.

We need a plan for where people will live and how they will move around Auckland.

The scale of investment required to respond to and support this growth is significant. While population growth results in a larger rating base, the amount of investment needed cannot be met by traditional funding sources.

The Development Strategy and 30-year Infrastructure Strategy (PDF 8.0MB) address the prioritisation, sequencing and funding of essential infrastructure.


Key Challenge 2: Sharing prosperity with all Aucklanders

Auckland's success is dependent on how well Auckland's prosperity is shared.

Many Aucklanders are prosperous and have high living standards, yet there are significant levels of socio-economic deprivation, often in distinct geographic areas.

This is a major issue. Income, employment, health and education outcomes are different in various parts of Auckland, and there are distinct patterns across broad ethnic and age groups. 

In part this is due to structural discrimination, meaning the intentional or unintentional practices and behaviours that prevent some people from succeeding or even participating in employment or society.

It is also due to unequal access to education and employment opportunities, along with high and often unaffordable housing costs.

Secure and healthy housing is associated with the accumulation of greater inter-generational wealth and other benefits not available to those living in short-term or unhealthy homes.

With the significant increase in the cost of housing in Auckland, decline in home ownership levels is resulting in fewer Aucklanders being able to fully prosper.

As Auckland continues to grow, we need to ensure that all Aucklanders can benefit from the associated social and economic prosperity that growth brings and can participate in and enjoy community and civic life.


Key challenge 3: Reducing environmental degradation

Much of Auckland's appeal is based on the natural environment.

Auckland's significant features include harbours, beaches, lakes, coastline, maunga, rain-forest clad ranges, and the Hauraki Gulf islands.

They are part of our cultural heritage and are an important part of Auckland's identity. But they are vulnerable to degradation from the impacts of human activities.

Despite regulation and considerable effort, Auckland's environment continues to be affected by past decisions, Auckland's rapid growth and development, as well as emerging threats such as climate change.

The latest report on the health of Auckland's natural environment shows that air quality has improved significantly in the last few decades as a result of effective air quality management.

All other indicators however, show a decline. Marine and freshwater environments, for example, have been polluted by sediments and contaminants arising from development, building and industrial activities

Our lifestyles, and how we manage growth and development, will determine whether the natural environment endures and if future Aucklanders can enjoy the environmental benefits we cherish today.

Two specific issues will continue to have the biggest effect on our environment:

The effects of climate change

Auckland is exposed to a range of climate change impacts, such as sea level rise and more frequent extreme weather events. Global and local records for rainfall and temperature are already being surpassed on a regular basis.

These impacts present challenges for Auckland, such as:

  • damage to ecosystems and infrastructure as a result of changing climate conditions or extreme weather events
  • direct impacts on economic productivity, and changes in market demand for some goods and services
  • unequal distribution of impacts on Aucklanders, with those such as the elderly, the very young, those living in poverty or with chronic health issues more likely to be negatively affected.

There are things we can do to reduce the impacts and costs of climate change, including:

  • moving to a low carbon economy and embedding long-term climate change considerations into planning decisions. This will reduce the need for major retrofitting or land use changes as impacts become more frequent and severe

  • increasing green infrastructure across Auckland. This will support the reduction of greenhouse gas emission, improve water management, reduce flood risk and deliver spaces that people want to visit and connect to. 

However, there are difficult decisions to be made and we will all need to work together to deal with or lessen the impacts of climate change. 

Today's actions and decisions are creating the legacy that we will leave for future Aucklanders. Each delay in making sustainable decisions means fewer and fewer opportunities to halt the decline in our already stressed environment.