Bernard Hickey argues Auckland's leaders need to aim more for growth per capita rather than just growth for the sake of it. The current low-to-no productivity growth model isn't working for most in the city and that's bad for New Zealand

Bernard Hickey argues Auckland's leaders need to aim more for growth per capita rather than just growth for the sake of it. The current low-to-no productivity growth model isn't working for most in the city and that's bad for New Zealand

By Bernard Hickey

Auckland feels like a boom town at the moment with shortages of houses, hotels, roads, schoolrooms and tradies dominating the conversations at barbecues, bars and on talk-back radio.

It seems like growth is all around and, strictly speaking, that's true. Auckland's population is growing at a rate of close to 200 people a day and all around town the signs of expansion are in the air - literally. The RLB Crane Index report found a record high 47 cranes on the skyline around Auckland in April, up 48% from six months earlier.

ANZ's estimate of regional growth rates in the March quarter found Auckland's GDP grew at an annualised rate of 3.7%, which was faster than the nationwide growth estimate of 2.6% and faster than either Christchurch at 0.6% or Wellington at 2.4%.

So surely any and all growth for Auckland is good?

It's certainly better than no growth or a recession, but the quality of the economic growth matters because sometimes growth for the sake of it doesn't actually make everyone richer in any sort of sustainable way.

This isn't just an Auckland problem either. All around the world policy-makers in Governments and central banks are scratching their heads over a strange phenomenon - falling productivity growth. Output per worker per hour is the most important determinant of wages and wealth in the long run. Unless productivity increases, workers and economies don't actually grow much in the long run. Growth can be pumped up in the short run by adding more workers (often migrants) and working longer hours, but new technology, training, management, systems and infrastructure are needed to make that growth sustainable.

Productivity growth across the developed world has sagged from around 2% per annum in the late 1990s to around 1% now. It helps explain why all sorts of stimulus from low interest rates and money printing haven't restarted the global economic engine and why interest rates have stayed surprisingly low for such a long time. There's all sorts of theories. Some think globalisation and increasing use of technology has shifted workers out of high productivity jobs in factories into low productivity and wage jobs in services industries such as hospitality and aged care, which has dragged down the average. Others think ageing populations and a lack of investment in new infrastructure, technology and education by governments and companies are to blame.

Whatever the reason, Auckland has quite a bad case of the productivity blues. The city has underperformed its own target of 2% growth in output per hour worked for a couple of decades. Output per hour has actually been flat to falling since 2012. Total GDP has grown in the city because of all the extra people working all those extra hours, but output per hour worked hasn't changed much, which means real wages have barely moved. They've certainly gone backwards once adjusted for housing costs, and more importantly, for useful leisure time.

This year's TomTom travel survey found Aucklanders spent an extra 158 hours or 20 working days a year travelling to work in 2015 because of congested traffic systems, which was 7% worse than it was in 2008.

Auckland may feel and look like a boom town, but quantity does not necessarily equal quality, and that's clear in the woeful productivity figures and in commuting times and in after-housing-cost disposable incomes.

Auckland needs a big dose of investment in its infrastructure, its people and its technology, but mostly it needs leaders and voters to think first about the wealth per capita of that growth rather than its sheer size. The phrase 'never mind the quality, feel the width' needs to be turned on its head.  

A version of this article was also published in the Herald on Sunday. It is here with permission.

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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This isn't just an Auckland problem either. All around the world policy-makers in Governments and central banks are scratching their heads over a strange phenomenon - falling productivity growth.

Exactly, the summed total of failed state policy maker's contribution is scratching their heads.

Others have noted the problem and a repentful exit now would be welcomed by all.

With this fatally flawed NPS, the Government is once again setting up Auckland, council and citizens, for failure. Read more

I think Oram is completely wrong, and superficial. He is showing he is a nimby. Auckland is a case of 20+ years of local do-nothing. And when they do do 'something' it is based on 'rail' and focused on getting more people and building around Queen Street. Auckland is more than 'Queen Street'. Old-fashioned rail is never going to be a silver bullet. Too many in Auckland pine to make it a "little London". That is a completely inappropriate model.

For all their flaws, Wellington is right to be pissed off with boomer-controlled nimbys in Auckland. Left to themselves (ourselves) nothing will ever happen in the timeframes necessary. That's the slam-dunk lesson from the past two decades.

Many good things are happening here. It is a great city. Even the CRL will help, but that is because at this time anything helps. But the rot is exemplified by the waste that is the Waterview Connection. 'We' decided to spend $1.7 bln on a tunnel when one tenth of that would have completed and connected that link if it was above ground (in a quarter of the time) - we did that just because it went through the then PM's electorate. Local nimbys saw that with a bit of cheap pressure you could force anything.

We need to break that cycle of selfish thinking. We need to see the City as more than Queen Street. We need to stop trying to make it easy to get people in to the center. We need to embrace point-to-point transport, ride-sharing, get ready for automomous, apply surge pricing on roads and p/t, encourage a four-node city, and for heavens sake build more housing (public, and especially private).

20 years of nimbyism isn't going to be overturned in one year, but it will require a Wellington stick to start some momentum.


NIMBYism is basically the end of democracy. Democracy was meant to be about doing the best thing for the most people most of the time. Now it is thrown off by every single complaint.

At some point the majority need to be catered for again. Start looking at the whole picture. So 1,000 people in Auckland don't want something done - that still means 1.5million either do or aren't worried.

FFS Just start doing things and stop wasting time. Auckland will be stuck in the 70s forever at this rate.

I'm very happy not to be a Nimby if transport is reasonably addressed. On this you may just be being superficial. There already are arguably 4 nodes of working places in Auckland, but households don't necessarily easily organise themselves perfectly around them. Auckland City including Newmarket, the Uni, the Port, Parnell and Ponsonby will likely remain the prime node, whether you like it or not.
Auckland's main arteries North, South, East and West all need considerable investment still. Then the lesser veins of Gt and New North Roads, Dominion, Sandringham, Mt Eden, Gillies, Manukau, Remuera and Great South, even Remuera Rds need some bold thinking. The cross roads of Balmoral/ Greenlane Rds, and Mt Albert Rd with better solutions would complement a better working inner city, and allow freer movement across town.
The Aussies are talking about investing to be able to get pretty much anywhere in a main city in 30 minutes. We seem to have far more limited ambitions.
It is pleasing to see some new double decker buses on Mt Eden Rd the last week, so there are not queues of people 20-30 deep waiting and watching full buses go by for an hour or so, but that still feels like tinkering.
I don't really see long term solutions without going underground for a good part of it; while very effective solutions are easily imaginable if they do go underground. Someone has said that volcanic rock makes underground difficult. Maybe, but I'm not sure anyone's really looked at it. The latest technology seems very effective and relatively quick.
I agree that any sensible such plan must have a corollary that inner city and inner suburbs housing rules must be freed up dramatically, and that would be fine with me.

auckland transport has no show of being fixed in the next decade. Now takes 1 hour 30 minutes to catch a 6.30am bus from Huapai to the CBD. The number of cars being registered in Auckland every month means that all motorways will need to be widened by two lanes within 5 years or we will have complete and utter gridlock. Maybe bring in a congestion tax for the inner city and prevent the construction of any more car parking buildings or close some down then add 1,000 buses to carry 30,000 people, build multi level car parks at those bus transfer stations. Ban construction of office buildings in the CBD and only permit at Albany, Manukau and Westgate. Businesses forced to operate from satellites, no more port extensions or trucks to the port - build a rail corridor and move the port container exchange system inland.

Must be some imbeciles working at Fulton Hogan
Sixteen hundred tonnes of steel from China has been found to be too weak for four bridges on the $450 million Huntly bypass that forms part of the $2 billion Waikato Expressway. Contractors building the 'Road of National Significance' chose a very low bid for the steel tubes. But the test certificates for them have turned out to be wrong, and now an expensive fix-up job is under way.

This was in a world market flooded with Chinese steel, ranging from the very good to the very bad. RNZ News is working to identify the mill and manufacturer in China and what accreditation either has there to make or test steel tubes.

Chinese steel has had a long history of being crappy stuff. See attached articles.
The govt wants imports to bring the cost of local products down. Well, be very careful what you ask for....


I am tradie, working all over Auckland, spending 25 hours driving congested roads to get 40 hours charge time in. Typically 70+hours out of home to charge 40 hours of real work,that is very poor productivity.
As I am on all motorway systems, i look at the new builds,of bridges and passes and see relatively new construction that only allows widths of 3 lanes each way, and some places 4 lanes at a squeeze. Abysmal planning, and most of those roads will be utterly packed in 5 years of new vehicle registrations.
Look at the disaster bottleneck where south-western meets southern, six lanes in total being forced into 2 lanes just beyond hill rd,going south. Now consider that the SH16 connection will be dumping many thousands of cars ,trucks, etc down the already dysfunctional south western to southern connection, , in 18 months time. Utterly stupid non-planning. It is going to be ridiculous with, 10 km backed up traffic to massey rd.
We ,the tradies, who work on all those properties,in central, who now can never even hope to own one,due to unmanaged greed and speculation, and unlimited asian mugration, , but spend our working life serving their owners, living in the rural periphery, never getting ahead.

so do you think wider motorways would solve the problems??? Only a proper congestion free transport system would work (trains, trams, busses) so people like me doing 9-5 in a office can get out of your way.

Well articulated, Jimmy.
It seems both a lack of coordinated planning, and a lack of any bold imagination, are at fault. When the government can borrow at 2.5%, there is an opportunity to endeavour to half match some of the better cities overseas. Whatever could and should be done will reasonably enough take some years to roll out, and so does need to be getting on with. There is no sign from Bill English in particular, and the Nats in general, that they have any boldness or imagination. Yet they keep the immigration floodgates open. This I don't personally mind a lot, but they can't have both; massive immigration and corner dairy mindset investing.

The problem will eventually self correct. When the traffic comes to a complete gridlock, those in the office jobs that can catch a bus will have to start using public transport or they are never going to get to work on time. When the bus stops are packed and you cannot get a bus they will have to start running more buses. When you cannot get a car park at the bus transfer station, which is already the case they will have to start building high rise parking buildings instead of stupid one level carparks. Eventually we are going to run out of petrol anyway and the existing 3 lane motorways can be changed to 4 or 5 lane motorways because electric cars can be made so much smaller than the current stupid great big 1500Kg car carrying one person. Its already too late and too expensive to build a motorway network that will cater for more traffic, its up to individuals to start making changes to help alleviate the problem or the government is going to wack on a serious congestion tax to help make the decision for you.

The new Rail line, seems to be more of a beautification project for the CBD at a high cost, rather than an effort to provide speedier transport alternatives from the suburbs into the city ?

Better still would be to stop concentration of offices, businesses, residences in the city, but in fact the reverse is taking place, with all the new construction going on inside CBD.

Here here David. I thought Oram's piece was awful. He is such a flakey, leftist writer that it's not funny.
I don't know if he has even properly read the NPS. It isn't all about 'releasing more land' as he says it is. It is about development capacity. Councils can choose how they want to deliver that capacity. Mainly through density, mainly through greenfield or a combination.
I get sick to death sometimes of all these know it all Poms....wanting to make Auckland 'a little London'. That's been one of the fatal flaws of the council for years - full of English Planners and Urban Designers!!!!

Recall the Brit Planners' motto:

"We finish what the Luftwaffe started"

David, In part I agree with you, must be all those young professionals romanticising their big OE in London, But I don't think it comes under NIMBYism, Why we would think retrofitting 19th century technology to a city built around motorways would fix it I don't know. Even those that appear well intentioned, Auckland Transport or the Auckland Transport Blog for example are hard to consider endowed with great integrity. Mostly they are self serving empires and cultist zealots. The Waterview tunnel was interesting in the fact that the very public corrupt process was so meekly accepted and/or well marketed, no one ever pointed out that Waterview was mosquito infested and run down, rather it was a heritage suburb with an unappreciated environmental gem! Hence my view this is not NIMBYism as much as acceptance of self serving and corruption as it exists in the public and citizen domains. Unfortunately so much money is going to be sunk into the CRL I fear ts to late for an alternative vision

Growth mania is what is destroying the social fabric of the nation and destroying the natural systems that make life on this planet possible. Economic growth and population growth lead to increased levels of the pollutants, especially carbon dioxide, that will soon render most of the Earth uninhabitable for humans.

Daily CO2

June 3, 2016: 408.25 ppm

June 3, 2015: 402.90 ppm

Up a staggering 5.35 ppm (versus 2005-2014 average of 2.11 ppm per annum)

CO2 is not a pollutant. A pollutant is a bio product nature has no use for. So please let's get that straight without the emotional spin on it.
Alarmism only serves to undermine credibility.
Keep it rational

Semantics. If it's going to drive the climate to hot house heating (as it will for sure), it's a pollutant in my book. What's irrational about his numbers?

Absolutely correct Bender. It sure is a pollutant when there is too much of it. And as to the consequences of such pollutants read this.
Actually I think their findings are still too conservative. Here in New Zealand my area is currently having a second crop of plums and its WINTER here.

Try sitting in a small room with all the windows and doors sealed. You may last an hour or two (depending on the size of the room) before the level of toxicity in you blood due to CO2 poisoning kills you.

When nature was not overwhelmed by anthropogenic CO2 it was able to maintain at a quite low level of less than 280 ppm (for at least the past 800,000 years -see below).

Now that humans have overwhelmed nature, nature is no longer able to process CO2 emissions and they are building up at an ever-faster rate in both the atmosphere and the oceans. leading to all sorts of catastrophic consequences, ranging from unprecedented droughts and flooding and melting of ice to death of corals.

Alarmism!?? The 'house is on fire' and most people are fast asleep. So is it a 'crime' to try to awaken them to the danger? The consequences of failing to curb emissions are about to go expoentail.

'Keep it rational' ?????

Please tell me what is rational about burning more fossil fuels when you are in a predicament that is due to burning too much fossil fuels.

What is irrational is the disconnect between the hard data and the lack of any meaningful action, and I am pessimistic that any of the latter will be taken.

Your entire over the top response to my simple straight forward fact is yet again...irrational.

Truthie... the allowed CO2 in the workplace is 5,000ppm so I think you will last more than "an hour or two" in your small room... submariners work at even higher levels.

Any maize crop worth its salt can halve the surrounding CO2 by lunchtime - that was established in the 1950's - those poor CO2 starved maize plants. Hence the use of increased CO2 in greenhouses and the growth in global biomass in the satellite era. Some pollutant that increases plant growth and improves water use efficiency.

'profile', your obsession with posting redundant and irrelevant 'data' on this website may be a consequence of a serious mental disorder. It might pay you to see a specialist in delusions or psychosis.

Meanwhile, in the real world of 2016.

Record floods.

'The current flooding mayhem isn't just happening in Europe - it's also hitting countries worldwide. Here's a compilation of the worst floodings from around the world: the US, Mexico, Russia, China, France, Germany, Belgium, Ukraine, and Romania. '

Record temperatures

'The first major heat wave of this year's warm months hit the San Diego area Friday, sending temperatures soaring well above seasonal norms and setting several record thermometer readings. The onset of the hot spell prompted the National Weather Service to issue an excessive-heat warning for the deserts, effective until 8 p.m. Sunday.
A less severe heat advisory for local valleys and mountain locales lower than 6,000 feet will run concurrently.
In Ramona, the summery swelter pushed the mercury to an afternoon peak of 102 degrees, beating the old June 3 record of 99, set in 2006, the NWS reported.'

And record low ice cover:

And what was that about improving water use efficiency?

At 1073.27 feet Lake Mead is at the lowest level ever (since the Hoover Dam was constructed). That low level seriously impairs the efficiency of hydro-electricity generation and means more energy is required to pump water uphill to places like Las Vegas.

Geez Truthie thanks! - Weren't you saying the other day "Insults are always the clearest indicator of a lost debate." I'll add "mental disorder" to the list. Like all alarmist lightweights you spam a bunch of irrelevance when questioned on specifics. What does a dam in the US have to do with levels of CO2 inhalation?! Water use efficiency in plants increases in regard to that "pollutant" CO2 - not some dam somewhere...

And for pity's sake do some reseach before you link - at the very least see if the data agrees with you or if the IPCC agrees with you.

Floods - you have to be joking. Even the IPCC can't find any increased flooding and their very existence depends on bad stuff happening from increased anthro CO2... "In summary, there appears to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale".

Record temperatures - well the latest El Nino is all over. Checked the sat data recently? Temps are plummeting. RSS is down 0.23 degrees in single month. Not long until it is back down to the 0.13 degrees/decade of the past 39 years - less than the pre WW2/heavy industry warming rate.

Your Arctic sea ice link. Wadhams is a complete tool and has been called out by his peers for his crazy predictions. I guess guess you couldn't be bothered reading to the end of your linked Independent article. Try some data rather than a guy whose funding depends on there being a problem.

Arctic sea ice volume - greater than 2012 when there was no El Nino.

Arctic temps bang on their '58-'16 average. How distinctly ho hum.

Greenland SMB well above it's 1990-2010 average and 2011-2012... Boring.

As a matter of interest is time spent in traffic jams counted towards hours worked, or are they counted towards GDP, it is a form of economic activity.

You have to expect low GDP. Big companies dont do well by productivity. They profit by control. Example. Auckland Airport would spend huge resource to throttle Whenuapai from becoming a part alternative. Supermarkets crush innovation etc. Read your business page, they advise to buy a share where there is market dominance - no discussion on 'productivity.
The big amalgated groupings are not interested in higher GDP per capita. Why would they be?
It's not going to change until New Zealanders resume owning their enterprises and we have a free enterprise system that rewards merit (productivity) over simply having a stranglehold.

It's not going to change


"Whatever the reason, ..."

Would one not have to know the reason before one can fix it?

I am sure the author knows full well that productivity stagnation has been mainly attributed to the current generation of workers being on average less well-trained and less educated than previous cohorts. This in turn is due to education no longer being free as well as mass immigration of poorly educated people.

So why do we sweep it under the carpet? Education is broken and so is immigration.


"Education is broken and so is immigration."

Never has a truer comment been written.


I say, Bernard! What you're saying there Bernard, is that it is all a big con. The debt fuelled "investment" in new buildings and infrastructure is really just good old fashioned misallocation of capital to low productivity projects. Oh, dear.

Yup, so let us build more roads so that badly needed IT companies can open shop ... huh? Bernard is 30 years behind the game. Adding physical infrastructure will do nothing to address the productivity issues of anno 2016. Bue he know that. Like many in his generation he is struggling to admit that his faith in the ideology of mass immigration from backward countries has messed up the country.


Many, including a rapidly growing number of National voters, are thinking it but nobody wants to go public for fear of being declared a racist - they are thinking Key, English, Collins and Smith are destroying Auckland with their migration policies. The floodgates are wide open, all you need to do to get residency is buy an investment property worth $1m and you are in and then you can bring your elderly parents in too. Not just talking about Chinese here, we have people arriving en masse from a range of countries including the UK, Germany, France. This net migration gain problem has another very major factor in play - Kiwis are no longer moving to Australia. If we still had a large outflow to Oz then the inwards migration from other countries would not be placing so much pressure on the housing market, health services, schools, traffic, infrastructure etc, etc
This current mob would have to be the most ineffective government we have seen in decades and in combination with the Reserve Bank governor they have set us on a path of decay that is quite unbelievable. The unintended consequences of the LVR rules, bright line test etc should have been predicted and these policies abandoned.
LVR just pushes people from higher value suburbs out to lower value suburbs which in turn pushes those suburbs to higher levels, a 30% Auckland investor LVR has just pushed Jafa investors onto the small towns and provincial cities and seen 25% 12 month value increases in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Whangarei areas, soon to be followed by Hawkes Bay, Wellington and Manawatu regions.
The bright line test will now cause a two year supply problem as nobody will want to sell an investment property for the next two years for fear of being taxed at their personal tax rate.
The latest proposal for a 4.5 x income limit will simply make it easier for the rich to continue accumulating properties and allow those from offshore, particularly those from China to buy even more property while the first home buyer will be completely frozen out of the market.
Finally Twyford was right - he obtained the data from Barfoots showing that 39% of buyers in a 3 month period had Asian names and now the governments own data shows that in Auckland 4% of house buyers are foreign based offshore and 35% are foreign students studying here or foreigners on temporary work visas. That is not racist, that is fact and the next sets of data will be similar.
The polls say John Key is very popular - not sure how they survey this as I have never been asked to complete one of these surveys but am certainly finding it difficult to come across anyone who is a raving fan of Key or this government right now! I guess if you are a wealthy retired investor with a large portfolio of real estate you will be loving the governments net migration gain focus and market meddling with LVR etc that has simply driven prices through the roof and made your retirement look even rosier.

It all adds up to a very lop sided increase in concentration of wealth and th One Percenters, and mind you they influence the policies and laws more than the others.

The stampede to NZ has been long-expected and is symptomatic of general erosion of quality of life throughout most of the world.

There are probably about 3 billion people who would rather live in NZ than where they are living at the moment. That number will rise as climate, energy and population matters that should have been addressed decades ago (but were not) take an increasing toll.

Nobody knows what portion of the 3 billion will actually manage to get to NZ over the coming years but we do know for certain that the period 2016 to 2025 will witness collapse of current arrangements throughout most of the world, if not all of the world.

'The end-state of unsustainable systems is collapse. Though collapse may appear to be sudden and chaotic, we can discern key structures that guide the processes of collapse.'

Don't be jealous. It will all become much less rosy for the "investors" when property prices start dropping.

But uninterested what exactly do you think will cause prices to start to drop - more govt meddling? Even a major event like the GFC only saw a temporary drop of about 10%

Don't forget the economic blunders of Stephen Joyce. Especially his drive for education "export". He ties a millstone to our necks and takes us for a swim.

Australia can't handle much more high inflows from New Zealand. About time most of the 650,000 Kiwis living in Australia moved back home to New Zealand. Australia has its own problems of homelessness to fix. natural habitats of native Australian animals are under threat from human expansion such as the Koala,Cassowary & Tree-Kangaroo.

28% of the Australian population are foreign-born. That is the highest foreign-born population percentage for any country in the developed world.

New Zealand needs to stop depending on high numbers of Kiwis moving to Australia or cutting migration to solve its problems. Australia needs to put in a population cap on the Trans-Tasman border with NZ.

The NZ population is too much concentrated in Auckland. 76% of the total NZ population live in the North Island & just 24% live in the South Island. The NZ population needs to be spread out majorly.

NZ has neglected infrastructure spending for decades especially in Auckland.

Australia grew by the total population size of NZ in just the last 13 years! New Zealand has grown by only 2 million people since 1964.

Ah, help. Please no, comrade. Please don't stuff up the lovely South Island as well, with your repulsive Central Planning Commitariat thinking, we like it just the way it is, thank you very much.

Stuff up? The NZ landmass has already been stuffed up for 800 years from humans already. time for some of the NZ population to move down to the South Island.

Native species have gone extinct from both main islands & both islands deforested majorly so what is left on either Island to stuff up? nothing.

Hi Bigblue, national govt is working for elite NZ and their overseas friends. It is an open secret but they are arogant as they know that election is still 16 months away. So they sre giving their friends an opportunity to make money before they take action later on as then it will mot be possible for them to ignore the housing bubble n be srrogant. NZ is being govern by businessmen that to shrewd businesmen and not Leaders who have vision and love for their countrymen. Still hope that they prove me wrong snd act atleast now curb speculators and oversess buyers.

Congestion tax and use the proceeds to pay for rail. Rail is a no brainer. Good enough for elsewhere good enough for nz

The problem with Auckland transport is that things are done after something has become a problem and by the time changes have been made more problems have been discovered.
Forward thinking people required.


The government is pretty useless, I reckon the armchair experts on this forum have a far better idea of how to fix the Auckland problem than Key, Smith and the others like the RBNZ who continue to mismanage our country. This is the time to "Think Big". Given the pressure on our resources, I recommend contracting Chinese companies to build-out all infrastructure and bring all their workers with them to be housed in work-camps, on Chinese wages. Why not? If it breaks some stupid law, then get busy and amend the law for goodness sake - we are in control of our own destiny surely?

The Chinese could build a six-lane highway from Kaitaia to Invercargill in the blink of an eye and show up our own weak infrastructure contractors who take years and years to complete one pint-sized project. And, they can even bring all the gravel with them in ships, given shipping rates are almost zero right now. No need to even have a discussion with an indigenous quarry. You can be sure they will also bring thousands of bulldozers, graders, cranes and engineers and quickly get stuff done, mind-blowingly quickly and incredibly cheaply. What's not to like? And the kicker, they would probably even finance it for us.

No need for work camps. They could stay in one of uncle's houses.

While at it, they can also build all the houses Auckland needs for the next 100 years ? They have great experience in building those ghost towns there..

our government never have vision, the americans wanted to build transmission gully motorway in WW2 and we said no
There are anecdotal accounts that the American Marines were keen to build a road inland through Transmission Gully in World War II to avoid the exposed coastal route south from their MacKay’s Crossing camp to other camps in the Pauatahanui, Titahi Bay and Mana areas, but the government did not have the material (concrete) to spare

Chinese labour camps in New Zealand? I hope you got a message from DC for your extremism :-) I mean seriously, we want Chinese slave labourers to fix our problems?

A 6-lane freeway at least from Auckland to ChCh is a good idea. It would give the many strong, uneducated men sitting idle in Aotearoa a worthy cause to work for, permitting the Waitangi Treaty allows for it.

Have you been warned about your extremism? I'm sure I had a comment deleted without any explanation but then I'm a little authoritarian so I can't complain if the site owners impose their authority on me.

I think that there are a couple of sore points out there - they are not too hard to guess. People are irritated, if what you say forces them to face up to some, umm, inconvenient thruths about the assumptions they base their worldview on. It is a human and understandable reaction.

I believe that "interest" offers a very open forum for debate and there is no reason to complain, even though losing a finely crafted comment does hurt at times :-)

No they wouldn't be slave labourers. The average annual wage in China is $NZ13,750, to give an idea which is about a quarter of NZ's. It may be that we could build-out infrastructure at a third of the cost we would have to pay using local contractors.


Forget all the usual stuff such as obesity, diabetes,drug etc. NZ's major problem now and going into the future is too much immigration. Its becoming a world wide issue that is building up steam in the UK where it is the major focus of the Brexit team and in the US where Trump is making it a feature of his campaign.

The Nats are using immigration to keep the economy going in the short term, long term for JK is the next election. Housing is getting a lot of attention but little thought is being made to the long term consequences of current immigration policies on employment, traffic, health, education, racism and crime.

Forget long term Smalltown. Migration is not even giving us an economic benefit short term.

UK immigration rates are small compared with NZ and minuscule compared to Auckalnds
Time to stop the music.

Wrong, The UK has to deal with migrants from the Middle East & North Africa flooding in from France.

The UK also is taking in a extra 20,000 Syrian refugees compared to NZ taking in only just a extra 600.

Per capita he is correct. NZ is much much higher.

Nobody is flooding over the channel.

My suggestion would be for the UK and NZ taking both 0 refugees from anywhere until such day that there is no poverty and no social deprivation present in those countries' resident populations.

I regard anything else as anti-social, immoral and democratically illegitimate.

I totally disagree. While I would like to see immigration drastically curbed, I believe it is our humanitarian duty to take more refugees. Immigrants choose to leave their home country: refugees do not have a choice unless you count death and torture as a choice. Our refugee quota is less than 1% of our current immigration. Doubling that would barely be noticeable and it would be the decent thing to do.

The 1 million+ people who swept into Germany are all called "refugees", while ALL, down to the last one have crossed 5 to 7 safe countries on their way to Germany. I think that a lot of people who are frivolously called refugees these days are plain illegal immigrants.

The UN actually wants bona fide refugees to stay close to their home land so that they can help with reconstruction after war and strife are over. NZ is nowhere near to meeting this criterion.

If you want to spend your money on this pseudo-moral cause, you should be able to pay your money into a fund which the government can use to invite e.g. Syrians. Forcing others to pay in the shape of taxes is the opposite of decent.

Finally, look at the Hawke-Keating experience over the ditch. Transplanted whole Lebanese villages in the 1980s and created an ongoing security crisis as its consequence. I do not want to be shot and bombed because people like you feel they need to force their false morals on others.

Call me cruel but we have refugees in this world because their countries/cultures are a mess.
That's the fault of their culture and mentality.
They are both the cause and product of that mentality, and some if not all will bring those mentalities with them.

Receiving large numbers of refugees may help the peopl but it can screw up the host countries - is it humanitarian to do that?

If you want to spend your money ...

Yes that is the essence of the dilemma .. some people are all for being humanitarian so long as someone else pays for it and not them - as the elephant says

It is our duty ...
Our refugee quota ...
It would be the decent thing (for us) to do

I would be sympathetic to Eco Elephant's views of he/she was donating a very large amount each year to a chosen refugee charity and wasn't speaking on OUR behalf

My views have been conditioned by living in Australia for many years during which the recent flood of refugees (50,000 a year) were arriving having paid a fortune to people smugglers to get on leaky boats, passing through many safe-haven countries to get there. What dampened my support was refugee women getting off the boats at Christmas Island and demanding breast-enhancement surgery on the public health system

Exactly! Surely all these young (mostly male) refugees will be needed back home for a massive reconstruction if the level of distruction is even half as bad we have been shown. So what are they doing in Germany or Denmark (or NZ) creating huge problems there in the meantime.

The problem in the UK is the ILLEGAL immigrants, the ones running the tunnel and getting into the UK without them even knowing. The whole of Europe is quickly turning into a mess, we are going to be fortunate to have a wide stretch of water between us and the problems developing in the rest of the world.

Crime in NZ is mostly done by NZers themselves not immigrants. Asian immigrants are less likely to commit a crime in NZ than a New Zealander.

It's very interesting , I have been doing a lot of reading on the effects of IQ. The UK will be destroyed within the next generation if they don't stop the flood of people who do not understand the foundation of the culture

Burglaries maybe but I guess you haven't been keeping abreast of all the high profile cases involving importation of hard drugs into NZ.

Since Germany's treasonous PM, one Angela Merkel, has opened the borders for anyone and all, there has been a veritable crime epidemic sweeping the country. Unheard of mass sexual assaults, rapes but also random bashings and several bombing plots uncovered in the last minute are now on that country's daily agenda.

Few more years of Nat, Labor and Green policies here and NZ will end up in the same anarchy.

When it comes to traffic Auckland should look at Seoul, a terribly gridlocked city 12 years ago which has managed to clear its jams despite being 10 x bigger than Auckland

The council are going to look at that issue in 2030.

Be interesting to see if a sunami would flood the underground rail link,As for changing the things to how the younger people want I guess that we need to wait till the baby boomers die off and the younger generations take power. A lot depends on how people adapt to the ever changing, some people just relax accept things and go with it, others stress,bitch and moan instead of living life.

The bottom line is that National has directly caused this crisis with ongoing mismanagement of their immigration policy, and are therefore responsible for fixing and paying for the effects.What amazes me is how the Auckland City politicians are too gutless to have it out publicly with the government, and just accept the ruination of the city without a whimper. This year's local body election is a great opportunity for some new cage-rattling blood to come in and get stuck in to the government. Windy Wellington sods!

I absolutely agree. The problem is that if you're anti-immigration you will then be charged with be anti-immigrant, then with xenophobia and ultimately with racism. It's not necessarily true of course, but earlier today I heard Winston talking about immigration being too high and then he stuffed it up by making remarks about 'cultural acceptability' which will bury the message in a wave of justifiable political correctness.

Radically reducing immigration will not solve the Auckland crisis or the looming gridlock - internal migration and natural population increases will prevent that - but it would slow down the problem and it might give us enough time to sort out the infrastructure before it fails completely.

For some reason that I cannot fathom, people believe John Key about this being a supply-side problem. It just shows how little he know about economics. ALL price problems can be equally solved by reducing demand as well as increasing supply. Tackling both is far more likely to have an effect than just tackling one.

My words. Immigration has been sacralized by mainstream media and lobby organizations like George Soros's "Open Society Foundation" to an extent that free speech no longer exists on this issue - globally.

It's not just immigration that has been sacralized either. Quite a few opinions can not be freely expressed anymore. This is a direct result of multiculturalism and identity politics. The other day I was admonished by my boss for extolling the benefits of battery powered impact drivers using drill bits that had hexagonal ends for quick changes that don't require the need to master a chuck as being great for "girls".

Religion too is out of bounds for discussion. I remember twenty years ago we had great debates about Christianity but you can't do that now and you certainly can't have a discussion about Islam or Hinduism at work anymore. You cannot tell off colour jokes without risking your job. There are an awful lot more things you can think but not express in today's society and that wasn't the case in the past. We have lost our freedom to offend. You have to, well I do anyway, think carefully before saying anything.

And very little thought is given to what your average male in the West has lost. We were poised to become masters of the universe at the turn of the twentieth century but gave it all up so that absolutely everyone could feel good about themselves. It was quite a sacrifice really and one that is rarely acknowledged.

You are right. We are sacrificing the social freedoms, civil rights and generally all the hard-gained and bloodstained achievements of the years since Enlightenment broke the chains of irrationality and superstition on the altar of an ideology of repression in the name of hypermoralism.

The world needs us and Western civilization today more than ever. If the combined onslaught of the i-word, Chinese totalitarianism and the inside job done by treasonous "Western" politicians brings us down, then the world as a whole will pay a terrible price.

I was in Rome the other week. What a splendid, brilliant and breathtaking civilisation had been trampled there by barbarian hordes (sorry, just history). It took the world 1500 years to reconnect to Roman glory.

We have reached a smiliar point in time today. If we fail to stop the traders of the apocalypse, people like Obama, Merkel, Draghi or Soros, the ensuing misery will be unimaginable.

Btw, every major church in Rome is now protected by several Italian soldiers armed to the teeth incl. M16s. You can only enter after a security check (sorry, true, fly there and check, if you dont like it). This is how far we have already fallen in 2016.

Unfortunately, a lot of people in charge and power have mentally never left the 1980s. They do not understand the fundamentally new situation.

NZs historic values underpinning our society are the very ones that make NZ such an attractive place to live for immigrants. However, our politicians scorn these values as nothing special and are happy to sell farms, land, businesses and houses to whomever, whatever their values.
Isn't this known as selling your heritage?

It is known as treason or cultural genocide, I would say.

Btw, the Dalai Lama himself has warned Europe and especially hypermoralistic Germany (always Germany endangering Europe - I am starting to dislike the place) about losing its identity by further pursuing the EU's policy of supporting systematic illegal mass immigration. The Dalai Lama as the leader of Tibet knows full well what it means for a culture when it is swamped by another, hostile one.

Unfortunately, the term "cultural genocide" which has originally been coined for what is going on in Tibet has been banished by the high priests of illegal immigration in the UN, EU etc. China obviously did not like it and neither do the people who feel that the i-word should fertilize the world.

Yes the Dalai Lama criticising mass immigration. That's a good one to throw at the PC brigade

Has anyone done any research into why people emigrate to NZ (also Canada/Australia)?

On a more mundane level they often say the reason is to escape the crowds which would eventually be self defeating.
I don't think it is politicians that scorn our heritage so much as I found it is often NZers and often observable on this very forum. Politicians just prostitute themselves to whatever is the flavour of the day.
It cannot be denied that what NZ is today is the result of a lot of hard work and investment. There should be a technical term that sums this up, even gives it an actual value. It actually is not intangible. It seems strange to just give a lot away. Once upon a time we fought endless bloody wars to retain it.

Quality migrants tend to migrate to find a better quality of life, such as affordable housing and land. But sadly that's becoming less and less feasible for New Zealand.

Oh, don't be so pathetic and hypocritical. Your problem isn't with not being able to say whatever you want. Your whiny-ass problem is that other people get the same rights and can challenge or disagree. If you want to say things that people may find insulting, knock yourself out. Free country, after all, and you'll be perfectly fine unless you indulge in threatening language or the like. But don't drop your nuts and be a whiny bleating crybaby just because the people you insult and belittle have the same rights and get right of reply. Try applying a bit of personal responsibility and taking consequences like a grown-up.

I'm not crying about it just articulating an observation. You cannot have those robust conversations of yesteryear without someone getting extremely upset about it. People should be more like me, totally immune to insult.
Also corporate environments demand political correctness at all times. Of course one could always become self employed but "I ride the tiger".

My favourite sacralisation is capitalism. My handle is a reference to this. Capitalism gets conflated with both the free market and with democracy. Both of these are demonstrably incorrect. Capitalism may be a free market system but it is not only possible free market system. It's not even a very good free market system. The interest paid for capital is a cost to business but capitalism sees it as a benefit. As for democracy, while there is a correlation between the two, in reality, while democracy is just a perfect breeding ground for capitalism with its strong property rights, capitalism has nothing whatsoever to do with democracy. Capitalism is, by definition, a plutocratic power system - the equity holders get to tell people what to do simply because they have money.

I believe in free markets and democracy which is why I don't believe in capitalism.

Rail against capitalism and you'll get accused to being against free markets and undemocratic.

It is hardly surprising that productivity does not increase when only a tiny percentage of the population benefit from it. Think about what a business can do if it does increase productivity. It can reduce prices, increase profits, reduce labour (after all you need less labour to produce the same goods) or increase wages or any combination of these. In practice the first three will be done but the last of these will happen only rarely. Don't believe me? Then why is it that in the last 40 years in the USA productivity has doubled in real terms whereas the median wage is the same or lower.

Now look at the hours people are working. The 40 hour week is becoming a thing of the past for many, but increasing the hours does not increase productivity - it does the opposite. Once you work longer than this fatigue will set in and productivity decline. Now that would be fine if you were still at peak efficiency at the start of the day, but you won't be. As fatigue levels build, productivity during the whole day will decline. When you add 2 to 3 hours of commute time to the day, productivity will decline further. We are in a downward spiral and without a major system change there is no way out.

There is an alternative however and it's called democracy. If we replaced our free market plutocracy, aka capitalism, with free market democracy where business is run by the workforce for the benefit of the workforce, this spiral could be reversed. Evidence suggests that democratic businesses are more productive, though less profitable, than capitalist ones. Never forget the famous definition of insanity - do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That is exactly what capitalism is doing.

The fatigue is real. We frown on overtime in my industry. More than 6 working hours a day results in sloppy work that costs more time to fix up.

Xelnaga,that is interesting,i find similar in my industry, 7 hours max, for landscaping, most guys are too stuffed after 7 hours of "work- out " level of intense activity,to do anymore,and then there is a fatigue hangover to next days,if the job runs on to 10 hours in any day ( plus 3 hours of Auckland commuting in trucks...not a rest time,either! ).
What industry are you in? Jimmy H.


IT hardware is a different story. We often work twelve or more hour days, right through the night or entire weekends. If your contract allows overtime it can be pretty good though as much time is spent waiting for power ups, power downs, backups, restores, data copies and downloads. I love being paid double time for sleeping or watching a movie on YouTube.

Think fast.
Infrastructure is becoming a credit card and cloud.
Often IT project planning and man management is woeful. All independent contractors, read well dressed subbies often in pmt daisy chains. Your time and a half could often turn out to be plus 50% or 100% as margin to the labour hire company (that may well turn out as a company owned by your project managers wife).
- and provide motivation for many project mini crisis that require someone over night. ( the spinning of the client).
Labour hire contracts. Do you know your charge out rate? More walkin walkout. Some say if the corp doesn't pay the labour hire, the labour hire need not pay.
So long as you know spin the client when you see it.- not that clients are all bleached white.

"I love being paid double time for sleeping or watching a movie"
There's your productivity problem right there Bernard.
Too many people dicking around with their cell phones, leaning on their shovels or just pretending to work or, in the case of the road maintenance guys, watching someone else pretending to work.

Should Zac be picked on. Isn't he also a landlord with one or two a couple of residential rentals (but he does property post a lot).


Haha, just come and try the "lean on a shovel on my work sites" approach, down the road on your bike ,before morning tea.want to talk about productivity, lets start on attitude, I have fired 12 slackers in 4 years, from a small team,,I do not owe anyone a living,

I don't work harder, I work smarter.

Is that your Tony Robbins speak affirmation.
Surely he mentions being true to your self, your clients and customers.

And not take their money while you sleep. They pay for your labour.

I am sleeping while I wait in a cold data centre for engineers in places like Singapore and Hungary to complete their tasks (sometimes they go to lunch while I am waiting!) or for a computer to complete its task. Sometimes it takes hours and you nod off in your chair with your cell phone by your ear. It's actually quite harsh and not great for your health so any sleep you can get refreshes you for the next task you may be asked to perform. That's why it's smart to get even a few minutes of shuteye.

On immigration....I sometimes wonder why so many want to come here. Yes it's a lovely country etc etc.
But all those engineers and doctors from India now driving taxis. I mean, if they were genuine professionals wouldn't they be doing quite well in India? Why would they give it up to come and drive taxis and struggle in a horrendously expensive place? It's not as it India is a dictatorship - it's obviously a democracy.
I can better understand the reason for Chinese. Chinese cities are shitholes and they are living under communism.

Our Michael (Woodhouse, Min. of Immigration) will tell you it's the skills shortage. That's right, we need Brain Surgeons and Nuclear Physicist taxi drivers.

Oh, I didn't know that. I thought we needed cheap migrant labour to chop up vegetables (chefs, 7.2% of skilled migrants) and wait on table (restaurant managers, 4% of skilled migrants) and prune grape vines and milk cows, you know all those dirty jobs that someone has to do. I mean without them we might have wage rises, er, sorry, I mean wage inflation.

Scroll down to the table, it contains such gems as call centre staff:
ICT Customer Support Officer 282 migrants 2.9%

It is not what we have been told it is.

And for some mysterious reason, chefs can't be recruited from the extraordinarily-high percentage of chefs who became unemployed once residency conditions were achieved.

It's a scam. Provide residency-track job for a couple of years in exchange for kick-backs and cheap labour.

Yes, actually I rather admire the entreprenurial spirit involved in outwitting the well meaning bureaucrats, but I've no idea how to organise these things better. I think there are major downsides with the current cult of "immigration is a good thing". Most of the people I've met are lovely, but before long house prices seem to ramp up another notch from extremely highly unaffordable to really, really, really, completely unrepayable ever, even if you can afford the interest for the time being. Not to mention the completely unkiwi thing of having to walk in other people's footprints at the beach.

Yes. What does happen to last-years chef imports - where do they go - do they have to supply evidence of their training or is it simply they were a competitor on My Kitchen Rules in India

If a skilled migrant obtains entry into NZ based on skills then they should still be working in that role, or in a more senior but allied role, 5 years later

Yes, track-back audit
That information is available to IRD in their tax-returns and IR12 and IR330 disclosing their occupation

That assumes of course they are working above the radar. All skilled migrants should obtain an IRD number within 3 months of arrival associated with their business or employment intentions

Any skilled migrant who is not working in the approved field, or is receiving unemployment benefits inside the first 5 years should be refused citizenship and have their visa revoked and forced sale of any residential property they have acquired

In regard to the productivity of Auckland, Treasury needs to be asked to do a cost/benefit of moving unproductive hours to other regions where they can be used more efficiently. The cost of Auckland's lost 20 days is in the order of 16b per annum, enough to fund public health services each year. Regional development will be be an important consideration for voters in local body elections this year and the national election next year. But they need the information from Treasury to consider the impact of each parties policies in this area

Quite apart from lost productivity, the traffic jams will be causing high numbers of people to become unwell mentally, ie increased stress levels. There is a high cost to pay for this, again National needs to own up and among several other things increase the health budget hugely to cope with this indirect result of bungled excessive growth. They are so blinkered and just plain dumb in a word. Looks like all the other political parties will work together to ensure National gets turfed out at the next election. I would expect Winston to be PM too as the condition of him joining in the grand coalition.

As the only political party openly against immigration induced population growth Winston deserves to be the next PM.

'Bernard Hickey argues Auckland's leaders need to aim more for growth per capita rather than growth for sake of it'
I haven't observed Auckland's leaders encouraging growth, they are resisting the costs of the governments immigration policies being passed on to the ratepayers!
Its the governments immigration policies that are encouraging unproductive growth at the financial and cultural cost of NZers.

Stephen Joyce admits immigration is propping up the economy! 70,000 net migration gain in last 12 months is insane - time to slash it.

The traditional descendants of the colonial inhabitants of NZ can be likened to the Elves in the Lord of the Rings. A fair and wise race of beings whose role it is to usher in a new age.. to be a shepherds and guides for the diverse folk of the world as they enter into a new phase of civilization. We fought epic wars with the forces of darkness and constructed a fair and egalitarian land with glorious institutions and now wish to share this with all the other folk of the world without any discrimination. They will come to our kingdom and through the power of our magic will just know what is the right and correct path to harmony. Like in the Lord of the Rings we will pass on as the cycles of ages change and fade from the landscape to be nothing more than empty souls, invisible and with no real conscience.

Living in auckland feels like a hamster on the wheel, long hours just to get by, NZ should adopt 30 hour working week, then we would see the problem

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