Opinion: The 'should Auckland go up or out' debate misses the real point - the city is already too big for the country anyway

By David Hargreaves

As everybody agonises about whether Auckland city should go “up or out” very few rational voices are even acknowledging a third option.

It can be a bit dangerous and misleading to go by what commentators to websites say, but there is a constant refrain among those commenting on the great debate about whether Auckland should spread or high-rise.

Aucklanders it seems DON’T WANT the city to grow in the future the way it has in the past, whether it be up, down, forwards, backwards, out, or sideways.

My colleague Gareth Vaughan in his excellent piece pointing out the likely high-rise future for Auckland schools made reference to this unspoken third option.

But it’s a fair bet that for the much-hyped meeting between Housing Minister Nick Smith and Auckland Mayor Len Brown the mysterious option three “contain Auckland’s population” will not have got a mention.

The thing is, everybody just assumes Auckland will grow at a faster rate to the rest of the country (as it has) and accept that fact.

At the moment Auckland has a population of 1.5 million, give or take a few, while the total population of the whole country is 4.46 million.

According to Statistics New Zealand, in 2011 Auckland made up about 34% of the population. Based on “medium” projections, Statistics New Zealand reckons the country will have a population of 5.19 million by 2031. Auckland will have 1.97 million, it is projected. This, if it transpires, will mean Auckland’s share of the total population will have risen to 38%.

That’s a very high proportion by international standards, though you would have to be careful in necessarily trying to suggest it would actually be the biggest proportion of population in the world for a country’s largest city. Just off the top of the head, you could think of Iceland’s Reykjavik, with a population of either 120,000 or 200,000 depending on whether you take in the surrounding region, versus a total population in Iceland of just 320,000.

But a lot of countries are not absolutely dominated by their largest city. London for example represents just 15% of the total population of England, or about 12.7% of the whole of the UK. Tokyo represents about 10% of Japan’s population, while the massive Shanghai (figures vary depending on where you get them from but let’s call its population 23 million) makes up only a little more than 1% of China’s population.

The point is, do we really want the economy of a country to be hugely dictated by one part of it? The expression all your eggs in one basket comes to mind. What if those Christchurch earthquakes had hit Auckland? Would New Zealand now have an economy at all?

But it is just accepted that Auckland will continue to grow faster than the rest of the country and the whole debate is how that growth is handled, rather than, would it be beneficial for OTHER parts of the country to grow more quickly? Can we actually check the Auckland population growth?

Move the migrants

Doing so might not be quite as simple as some suggest. For example it has been suggested that migrants to this country be “encouraged” to go somewhere other than Auckland. There has got to be some merit in that, without wanting to come across as overly prescriptive.

But, to go back to Statistics New Zealand’s projections again, it is believed that two-thirds of that Auckland population growth will actually come from breeding. If you look further at the statistics, this is not surprising, because not only is Auckland’s the fastest growing population, it is also the youngest, with a median age of 34.2 The next youngest median age in the country is in Gisborne, about 1.5 years older than in Auckland. Several places, particularly further down south have a median in advance of 40.

To this observer these figures all look like a mounting problem for the country. It looks like a country and an economy that will be increasingly unbalanced.

So, to an extent, the unseemly squabble between the Government (who seem to have started it) and the Auckland Council (who seem to this observer to be more reasonable in their approach) is actually missing the main point. Don’t let’s see how many more people we can shoehorn into Auckland without first seeing how the rest of the country can be made to grow and prosper too.

But first, just a couple of points about the argument that the Government and the council are having.

As someone who had never lived in Auckland till relatively recently, I find beyond belief the concept that there is apparently no land available within this sprawling mess for new houses. If we accept that is the case then it all goes to show how derelict original so-called planners of the city were. See green field. Build housing development on it. Link with roads. No problem. Oh...okay. Problem.

Idiotic thinking

For the Government to implicitly push for a return to that sort of idiotic thinking is a recipe for disaster. Just pave the whole North Island and call it Auckland. And be prepared to wait a very long time for a bus.

I suspect the mounting hysteria in Auckland that suggests the council is looking to house everybody in 200 storey apartment blocks, or 10 kilometre-long terraced blocks is being rather overdone. But the reality is that some more apartments in the central city area would not be a bad idea at all. And maybe some in outer lying areas as well.

The real objection possibly that most Aucklanders would have to apartments is that so many apartment developments have been abysmal, don’t-board-your-dog-in-them, things. To walk up Auckland’s Hobson Street is to really feel like you have been thrust up the backside of the universe. It is disgraceful that half these “structures” (the word is used loosely) ever got beyond the drawing board, if indeed they were ever drawn.

A lot of people in New York live in apartments. Why? Well, yes, there is a lack of space. But people live in them because a lot of them are nice. The thinking in respect to Auckland is that apartments should be cheap. Well the word nasty goes very nicely with cheap. More quality apartment blocks may well attract more of the well heeled to live in them. Okay so what about housing affordability? Well, the theory would be that more people moving into apartments would take the pressure off the housing stock elsewhere and ease the pricing pressure. That’s the theory.

But that’s all about managing the current problem.

In the future, the Government should be thinking about how it actually takes some of the focus off Auckland and allows the rest of the country to grow. If you give Auckland’s population growth a breather you will give the council more chance to remedy some of the sins of the past.

Some options

So, what to do?

As mentioned, giving new migrants incentives, at the very least, to base themselves somewhere other than Auckland would be a start.

How about incentives to businesses to base themselves in places other than Auckland? Okay, it immediately starts to sound expensive. But would there be incentives using the tax system that could be applied? Perhaps some kind of deduction for non-Auckland businesses? Yes, obviously there would be a cost via lost revenue. But there might also be economic benefits.

The point is, it would be worth going through the intellectual exercise of seeing whether such incentives could be arrived at.

Similarly, could the tax system be used to provide young couples incentives to move away from Auckland?

These kinds of alternatives are worth looking at.

But as long as the argument remains about how can we make Auckland even bigger, you have to suspect that the country is missing a big opportunity to diversify its economic base. And it is playing Russian roulette with its future economic prospects.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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The crux of the issue (AKL is getting bigger and bigger) is rooted from NZ's economy being too dependent on primary sectors.

For many people, lifestyle block is attractive....price vs quality living analysis makes it attractive especially for those who do not need to work in the City or towns.
If the Current situation in Auckland hold we will see lifestyle blocks all the way from Warkwort to Hamilton......

They are more like 'no lifestyle' blocks in many cases. If you have to spend half of Saturday just mowing the lawn, what sort of lifestyle is it?

In global terms, Auckland is a small city, covering about 550 square kilometres ... with all our urban areas a whisker under 2,000 square kilometres or 0.70% of our total land area. 
With respect David, you are getting hysterical about a non issue.

Tend to agree, 550 sq km is pretty small. And Auckland's densities are already quite high by Australasian / North American standards.   Auckland has plenty of capacity to grow in well planned greenfield areas, in addition to intensification.
Offering incentives for kiwis / immigrants to live elsewhere is a nice idea. Unfortunately I don't think it's an idea that would prove very effective. Business and opportunities generally gravitate to the largest centres. 
David raises real valid concerns about the quality of apartments in Auckland. Although some of this undoubtedly comes down to cowboy developers, a lot of the time the poor quality is simply the result of the difficult economics of apartment development requiring corners to be cut - forget about the rhetoric that good design can be done at low cost!!!!. That's why, apart for some higher rise apartment in high value locations, the emphasis needs to be on low scale intenisification, where the economics work better. The downside of this is you get less yield and need to rely on more greenfield. But that is just the reality I'm afraid.
If Aucklanders have a problem with this then I suggest there are plenty of smaller cities and towns in NZ that they can move to to enjoy a quiet life.


I'm disappointed in you, Hughs 0.7% comment is a meaningless platitude, If we open up the MUL the roading required and the direct fuel costs will kill most peoples dreams (and don't blather about public transport, its no cheaper). I know why the council want 20 storey high-risises in the CBD (fits neatly in planning restrictions, no lawyered up NIMBYs coming at them with the RMA), I'm just not sure that its the right thing to do.
On the other hand I'm concerned about leftie Browns current stratgy of ramming the unitary plan through unchallenged (sn't is interesting that socialist when pushed become fascist?), his vision is that if he creates high density enclaves he can make his train set bigger.
My preference is for meduim density redevelopment but I can't see developers doing that when they can easily make millions doing up ! mill+ villas in Ponsonby

Neven911 - it used to be that under the RMA, a proposed plan became effective as soon as it was notified.  There was still a public consultation process and it was only following that consultation process once each of the legal challenges were resolved that that particular section and set of rules became operative. Nat changes to the RMA amended that - allowing for councils to decide whether or not to make rules effective as at the time of notification.  As Auckland has it's own act associated with the setting up of the Supercity - all Brown is asking for is the same options that other councils presently have. 
So effectively he's not wanting to 'ram' it through, but rather he is looking to make it effective immediately - allowing for the uncontested aspects of the plan to proceed straight away.  Those contested aspects would still go through the normal consultation process in order to become operative. 
At least that is my interpretation - but it would be good for interest.co.nz to clarify - as the media portrayal of the issue I don't believe tells the technical (in law) story between the two differeing approaches (Smith vesus Brown) very well..

Thanks Kate, though I fear the uncontested portion may be small!

You would be surprised.  Greater than 90% of all resource consents go through without being notified (that is without a public consultation process).  Many are subject to 'limited notification' - which means getting consent from all those persons directly affected by a proposal (i.e. largely neighbouring property owners).  I'm just guessing as I haven't read the draft unitary plan - but it is likely that a lot of the minor infill is what would likely be able to begin in earnest based on limited notification processes/procedures.   The contested matters are more likely to be the bigger issues - multistory (medium/high density) and rural to urabn rezoning on the fringes.  Not the 'mom and pop' type stuff - Len I think would like to see this sort of development get underway.
But again - only guessing!

Not sure what your point here is. Mussolini was outsted from the Socialist Party which prompted him to denounce its core principle (i.e. proletarian rule, class struggle) - thus turning into a "nationalist" - to become his version of facism. 
And as far as his political backing, well;
1917, Mussolini got his start in politics with the help of a £100 weekly wage from MI5, the British Security Service; this help was authorised by Sir Samuel Hoare.

Make the immigrant go somewhere in New Zealand and do what for a living ???
Other than farms for Diary and Meat, what does "other " places in New Zealand offer in terms of livelihood?? How does an immigrant support himself and his family ?? are jobs abundant in "non-Auckland" areas?? Or do we want immigrants to go on the dole as soon as he lands in New Zealand??
His discription of Hobson Street and Apartments in Auckland is spot on. I wanted to live in the City too, but gave up as soon as I visited some of those "Apartments". Furthermore, they are expensive compared to suburban housing per sq ft basis and finishing wise. Only a young person with no attachments will want to live in those places.
I have lived in high rise Apartments in Asia all my life, but find Auckland's "Apartments" totally mean and unlivable........

It is the personal problem for the immigrant if they cannot live in Auckland and have to make something of it elsewhere.
It is not the problem for the State to solve other than to make sure immigrants know the facts before they come. Full stop. No ifs , no maybes.
For the ones who are here now they should be telling their grapevines of the potential difficulties and that would help.
I have no sympathy for using ignorance to sponge off the taxpayer. Only unforeseen things such as accident or sickness deserve to be dealt with. By all means help refugees but not self-funded people who should have the resources to move on if they cannot cope.

Kin, it's a fair question to ask what immigrants might do if they go somewhere other than Auckland. I reckon we need a much bigger focus on adding value to our raw commodities in NZ before we export them. Here's some comments and links to a couple of good stories on this topic from Brian Gaynor and Rod Oram.
"If New Zealand just exports the raw material, the commodity, the country gets little of the value.
That certainly happened in forestry and it’s why the forestry industry has really not fulfilled its potential," Gaynor says. "The dairy industry has got huge potential in New Zealand but we will lose a lot of that potential if we just export the raw material commodity product."
"We are still exporting huge tonnages of low-value, barely processed commodities so we can import high-value manufactured goods. This is exactly our pattern for the past 150 years or so."

The conversation you two are having assumes that there are "more" opportunities for  immigrants to work in Auckland than in other areas of the country.  "More" what?  Auckland's unemployment as a percentage of population is as high (if not higher) than the rest of the country. What in the main is it that these immigrants do for a living in Auckland?
Is immigration of permenent residents as a percentage of poulation actually higher in Auckland than it is in other areas of NZ? I think perhaps you base this assumption on the observation of a high number of Asians in the city - but are not many of these people students (i.e. non-permanent residents)?  If so, move the concentration of tertiary sector institutions and that one is solved.
I'm just not sure Auckland's problems with population growth are largely based in overseas migrants.  I'm guessing alot of internal migration happens as well and I think the  overseas student population (around 4,000 according to AKL university) adds to the central city accommodation problem in particular.

Kate, I'm just working off the assumption that people come to Auckland - from both within and outside NZ - because there are more jobs here, even if there are more people chasing them. But if we put more focus, and money, into adding value to our raw commodities before we export them, this would involve skilled jobs and wouldn't need to be done from Auckland.

But if we put more focus, and money, into adding value to our raw commodities before we export them, this would involve skilled jobs and wouldn't need to be done from Auckland.
Won't happen. Too many well established international entry barriers placed in NZ's way.
I clearly remember Fletcher Challenge going on about the need to focus on value added exports back in the early 1980's when I was a stock broker research bod - never happened. .

Exactly. That value-add for export markets "idea" has been around forever and a day. We simply need to import less.  I recall Sky management once bemonaing the fact they had to  import dsatellite dishes because no manufacturer in NZ was geared up to provide them in the volume and at the price they needed.  China of course was providing hugely advantageous export subsidies (i.e. incentives) to its manufacturers at the time (and likely still is) - but we ignored that little issue.
How we ever managed to sign a free trade agreement with them given the corruption, backhanders, subsidies, lack of labour laws, human rights infringements, disregard for international copyright protections and other international customs of social and environmental decency .. I'll never know.  I should read the document for a laugh.
This is the type of manufacturing problem we need to resolve - and have needed to do so for as long as that call for "value-add" has been going on. The only nation in the world playing the trade game NZ's way is NZ - witness our current account deficit.

Fair trade or ballanced trade not Free Trade.
Leaving aside China's appalling record on just about everything, because if we held most nations to any kind of standard they would fail, at least they do not have barriers to our exports or entrenched interest groups lobbying against us. The one anomaly is land. If we can't purchase their property the same rule should at least be reciprocated.
So too any trade agreement. They should all be equitable. If the US or EU imposes tarrifs or quotas on NZ agricultural products, we should impose the equivalent on their products until such time as they are removed. Our pollyanna free trade beliefs defy reason. If that means more import substitution well and good.

I think this issue of regional business growth is critical. I do not think New Zealand has actually industrialised like other developed countries. Auckland is our chief import hub and head office, Wellington is a government town and all other places service our primary agricultural interests or do a little tourism. That is about it. There is a few promising hopes like Tait electronics in Christchurch, but they seem more like the exception rather than the rule. New Zealand has been able to do ok only because we have huge resources on a per capita basis.
We should have industrialised after Briton joined the EEC but instead we got Think big madness followed by Rogernomics madness. In other words too much followed by too little central government. We have not developed the cultural, governmental and business institutions to support specialised industries that can compete in the globalised world.
Personally I think we need to increase the quality of governmental institutions at all levels. I think we have been too dominated by elected dictators like Muldoon, Douglas, Helen and JohnKey. So that the institutions we do have are more about servicing these dictators rather than meeting the needs of local people and businesses. At a gut level we know this to be true because ordinary people talk about political correctness. But they do not know how to change it. MMP was an attempt but did not work.
We should be doing a whole lot of little things to disperse power in a way that increases institutional quality. Say taking away the PMs power to appoint the Governor General and the Speaker and giving it to a 75% majority in Parliament. Then we would have some neutral refs in our political system. We could take some tax revenue powers from the Finance Minister and give it to regional government. Maybe then local government would not be so economically naive. You get the idea.. 

All extremely good observations. Have you got any insights/comment on the present constitutional review process underway?
NZ has suffered at the hands of too much power concentrated in the hands of the executive for too long - and yes, MMP was supposed to moderate that, but hasn't to any great degree.  If anything Helen provided the example of 'how to' tramp on constitutional conventions under MMP and John has picked up on the lessons and really, really run with it.
The other problem is that the reasons given when constitutional conventions are trampled on (for example Helen subverting Maori rights to access to the courts in the foreshore and seabed issue) - had nothing to do with access to beaches by the public - but everything to do with who had control over access to explotation of natural resource and mineral wealth (ironsands, aquaculture etc).  I just wish we'd start having the REAL arguments in public discussion.  It really is the job of the media to expose these real issues in order to force public debate in the right direction. 

I think the small parties should get together and decide on some improvements to our constitutional practices, so that the PM cannot ride roughshod over them and the rest of us. Then whoever goes into coallition with the major parties should insist that it be put into practice.
This housing situation in Auckland is interesting because it is one area the PM cannot dictate over. JohnKey knows that if Auckland house prices keep rising the Reserve bank will have to put up interest rates. But the rest of the country is on its knees with drought and interest rate rises will knock them out. JohnKey cannot stop house prices from rising because the supply restraints are controlled by Len Brown's Auckland Council. Len wants trains, taxation powers and Auckland to be the most liveable place in the world. I doubt he will get it. But he has leverage to get something.
Unfortunately this does not help the process of preventing Auckland from dominating New Zealand. If Auckland gets preferential treatment then that will just make Auckland more attractive to business and people.

This housing situation in Auckland is interesting because it is one area the PM cannot dictate over.
True, presently. But of course the RMA discussion paper just released suggested a means by which CG can intervene in LG plans .. so perhaps JK and Nick's disagreement with respect to whether the unitary plan can be made effectively immediately - has more to do with CG wanting to get its powers to intervene (i.e. dictate/take over) in place first through national statute amendment?

I do not think CG can get everything there way, they will be try different angles of attack as will the Auckland Council. But in then end there will be a give and take negotiation. They will not disband the council like Thatcher did to London and I cannot see CG removing planning repsonsibilities from councils in NZ.
On the wider issue of reducing executive power read "Why Nations Fail" by Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson. There argument is that throughout history effective government beats no government and then inclusive government beats extractive government. That this explains economic growth, not the exploitation of new energy sources, not guns, germs and steel, not the free market. It is well argued.  
It argues that there is a virtuous circle between inclusive political institutions and economic ones. Given the rise in inequality in the west over recent decades it would seem that this circle is not working so well at the moment.

From my understanding - the new legislation does not require them to disband the council (as they have done with the Regional Council in Canterbury) - rather it allows them simply to amend plans - leaving the elected representatives intact to administer their bidding.
At least that's how I read it's intention, although not explicitly stated, of course!

 Is this the 'something' deal between Wellington and Auckland that ensures that Auckland will start to co-operate with measures to increase in new housing supply?

Why not pursue all of these options at the same time? Allow fringe development, increase zoning to allow higher density and grow other urban centres. There is no one best solution.

Again, I'm calling BS on this one. People aren't as simple as highden or sprawl. People will choose the best option for them at the time from all that are available. Take a professional couple, add a child and watch them move further out to get more space and a garden. Why do we want to take options away from people?

Time to dust off this article by Alex Tarrant February 2012

iconoclast 03 Feb 2012
Is there a town planner in the house? Think about it this way. Aucklands fore-fathers never contemplated what it is today. Going back in time, and knowing what you know now, starting with a blank slate, how would you plan an Auckland City capable of meeting the needs of the future. As I have stated here before, the geographical layout of Auckland is in the shape of an hourglass with a chokepoint in the middle. At it's narrowest, the distance between the Manukau Harbour (Tasman Sea) and the Waitemata Harbour (Pacific Ocean) is 800 metres. The optimal design of Auckland should (have been) along the lines of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul in Minnesota. Whenuapai in the North and Manukau City in the South. Green fields in between.

scarfie 04 Feb 2012
From what I have seen Iconoclast, town planning is an avenue for Architecture Students to pursue when they realise they can't design. To be honest I don't think those skilled enough would  tolerate all those with their snout in the trough. I could have a crack, but it would involve some big changes in motor vehicle use. Most would scream blue murder over that, no matter how good the outcome could be for them. As I have said to you before though, it is a massive responsibility to tell other people how to live.
David B 04 Feb 2012
I think Sir Dove Myer-Robinson, "Robbie" Auckland’s mayor back in the 70s could see quite clearly where Auckland was going in the future, iconoclast. He wanted to develop starting back then a proper mass transit rail system for Auckland, as he said without question the city was going to reach 1 million people and continue to grow beyond that. But of course, it's the same old kiwi story! All the arm-chair-experts, the know-it-alls with opinions, said rubbish. Auckland didn't need this, Auckland didn't need that, this wasn't proper, that wasn't right, my inverted fungal picker which I have developed myself is the answer to everything, and a mass transit rail system is completely unnecessary and a waste of money. And of course many trotted out that old kiwi chestnut for public inertia; if you can’t do it on the cheap then you don’t do it at all. And we now have the city we have today with roads that are inadequately designed and incompetently configured, connections between and among roads that make no traffic flow or geographical sense, and traffic engineering practices carried out by the council that can only be described as bizarre, then throw in to that mix drivers who are not up to the best international best practice in driving skills and ability and you have what we have today, a mess.
And it’s Kiwis who did that, no one else.

David H - A very well written article with sound and practical alternative proposals to the "business as usual thinking that is currently proposed by both the Gov't and Auckland Council.

That's a bit rich
Accusing Aucklanders and Australians of speculating on Christchurch
Well, well, well, that is the pot calling the kettle BLACK. Isn't it. 

Kimy - there's a few tricks also employed by real estate agents which are having an effect. They are striving on all the media attention on the housing shortage.
I have spent considerable time running around Chch the last few weeks visiting as many open homes as I could. East of the city 3 to 4 out of every 5 I visited were sitting empty. All very liveable but under the EQC threshold for repairs. Insurance ws transferable so obtaining insurance wasn't a problem.
On the West side of the city the ratio was lower at between 1 and 2 in every 5 I visited.
I also went around the lifestyle blocks for a snoop and found many sitting empty for sale.
I think the Agents have a fair bit to do with the prices here. If your not seasoned to the Agents antics I think potential purchasers have been paying more than what they should.

I think the Agents have a fair bit to do with the prices here.
Suggests we shouldn't read too much into self reporting on who is buying in Auckland?

Might it have something to do with poor regional transport options by world standards?
What I do not get is the anti-highrise crowd. If you want to live in a big city, there are going to be highrises, its a pretty straight forward proposition.

The headline comment is right, but the reasoning is - at best -  secondary to the real reason.
And the ignorance/spin continues upthread, from the usual tout.
Auckland will exist in it's current form, well into the period of global energy-reduction. What gets built - whether up or out - will be diddly-squat in terms of changing the picture in terms of long term sustainability.
Supplying/servicing any city will be more and more compromised, as will the ag that supplies, as will the mortgages that expect to continue.

But at least if worst comes to worst you can live in Auckland with minimal heating energy, which is more than can be said about that malthusian stronghold of Dunedin.

Lightweight reply, 217.
You're not alone, though. There are many who would shut-down, obfuscate, ignore or deny, inconvenient fact.
Cabinet included. Stomp the 'State of the Environment' reports, shaft DoC, hobble Niwa, reduce University study to only that which may make money, use what was the media as spindoctors,  studiously avoid answering - and even asking - the hatd questions. ;
and you get ignorance. Common bedmate of arrogance.
The biggest sin, I reckon. Lot of it about.....

pdk, well speaking of arrogance, it's clear to see your petulance at not being able to implement a final malthusian solution on the population you so despise. Tucked away in a landbanked 60 acres, whilst looking down upon the peasants in their 1/4 acre sections.

Robby - I neither look down on 1/4 acre sections, nor on their owners. I do look down on folk who bury their heads in the sand, and on folk who argue that whatever their income derives from is not to blame and must continue.
Different sub-sets.
Good to sse you are thinking about it though -     :)

Won't we just move from oil to electricity? Things like electric buses, trains, cars, etc are a pretty simple reality in a bigger city, especially if there was more density. I can't see us having any troubles getting enough electricity. 

Jimbo Jones.   Yes we will, but no we won't.
We will move to renewables, because our exponentially-increased use of non-renewables is prima facie unsustainable. Better we do it early, while there is some room to manouevre.
But that will remove a lot of 'givens' - like income, CBD relevance, rural ability to supply....
Whether you see 'trouble getting enough electricity' or not, isn't the point. Electricity has to be generated, and currently that's over 40% coal-fired, globally. It would take more FF than is available ex BAU, to build a solar infrastructure, then there's the storage issue, and the fact that it isn't portable in a vehicular sense (too much battery weight vs payload).
There isan echelon of folk (I call them the 'Forest and Birders) who think that we have to change, but that we can do so without inconvenient disruption to our lifestyles. This will not/cannot be the case.

The Treasury/RB article JH referred to the other day says it all regarding population growth. 80% is due to immigration because while we have a relatively high international birth rate, we also have a high emmigration rate of kiwis. Without the immigrants to replace them the growth/housing issue in Auckland wouldn't exist. Immigration is supported by Labour and National as well as the certain business interests because they are convinced it will create economies of scale and because big cities give politicians bragging rights.
Yet the Australian Productivity Commission found no economic benefit from immigration to existing citizens. All the additional economic activity accrued to the new comers. In other words the population got bigger but on average no one benefited apart from the migrants themselves. And that's without internalising the cost to the environment, the air quality and water resources, the loss of habitat etc extra people affect

Sydney has the same type of nutters, pushing growth up the same slope, using the same energy source, in a similarly unsustainable manner. All over the planet, panicky pollies are pushing housing growth as the medicine. As I recall, it was the illness.

Wow, what a complete was of your time it was to write that out. Nobody wants to hear that your just a Zeno... Zenof...  Your a baby killer.
We have no current need for immigrants, focus on exports over imports and actually plan for any growth while fixing up the infrastructure for the long term.
The idea that we need more skilled people coming in is a fallacy, it's not going to change the fact we have a underclass of unemployed which still need to be delt with.

I say we go up, there are plenty of spots in Auckland where we can build high rise and it doesn't hurt anyone.  It's a heck of a lot cheaper to put a bus stop out front of a new apartment building (that a developer has paid to build) than to build a 1 - 2 billion dollar motorway to a new suburb full of McMansions. 
There will come a time when enough is enough for Auckland but we're not there yet both in terms of potential to intensify and our ability to sustain or maintain economic growth without growing our population. 
All you baby boomers out there just remember that the stratispheric growth that you enjoyed throughout your lifetime was largely due to population increases. 

This article and the other one miss the point. Whether Auckland grows or not is irrelevant - another discussion. Right now, with our current population, houses are unaffordable, our roads are congested costing $1.25 Billion a year. We have an outdated District Plan that doesn't work.
Right now, with the population we currently have, the Unitary Plan is a vast improvement over planning documents we have and allows for more affordable housing where the existing plan bans it. 
Sprawl won't fix the problems - as the DBH report explains.

Excellent piece of the type of thinking that most of Parliament is not  capable of.
Governments job is surely not to try an provide cheap sections to further bloat a city but rather create the environment where people live elsewhere.
People follow the jobs. The incentives and penalties should exist to locate business'elsewhere than Auck.
NZ has many provincial cities - all with the infrastucture required to grow immediately by significant proportions and comfortably thereafter. 
My only disagreement with this article is the idea that NZ couldn't withstand the loss of the Auckland Economy. - Auckland produces nothing that couldn't be sourced cheaper elsewhere. We still earn the vast majority of our income from primary produce.