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Great quality of life in North Shore City

Great quality of life in North Shore City

People feel good about living in North Shore City and the country's other big cities - that's the clear message coming from the latest Quality of Life survey and report.

New Zealand's eight largest cities (North Shore, Waitakere, Auckland, Manukau, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin) have clubbed together to find out how their residents feel about living in a large urban centre. And, on the whole, the results are positive.

It is the quality of life that makes people choose to live in these cities which accommodate 46 per cent of New Zealand's population. All cities are experiencing growth and increased diversity in their populations and North Shore City, New Zealand's fourth largest city by population, is no exception. Its population grew 7.4 per cent between 1996 and 2001 and is expected to grow a further 38 per cent by 2021.

Ninety-one per cent of North Shore City residents who responded to the survey said their quality of life was good or very good. Fifty-two per cent felt that their community worked together and that people supported each other while 78 per cent of respondents were proud of the way the city looks and feels.

"It's great that our community takes such pride in this city and cherishes the lifestyle here," says North Shore City's mayor, George Wood.

"I'm proud to live in and work for such a great city," says the mayor who was born in Birkenhead and lives in Forrest Hill.

The Quality of Life report covers information on demographics, education, economy, housing, health, natural and built environment, safety, social cohesion and democracy.

Other findings show, that in general, North Shore City residents enjoy relatively high incomes with a median household income of $53,355. There is low unemployment, people are well qualified (41.6 per cent of the population aged 15 years and over have a school qualification compared with 34.5 per cent for the whole of New Zealand) and many own their own home (66.2 per cent of private dwellings were owned as at 2001 Census). Economic development has been strong in the city in recent years with a 29.3 per cent growth in the number of economically sustainable business (higher than the national total of 20.6 per cent). And between 1998 and 2002 the estimated gross domestic product (GDP) was 8.5 per cent - significantly higher than the national total of 2.7 per cent.

Mr Wood is delighted with the findings but recognises that people should not take this position for granted and that there was always room for improvement.

"We have a strong knowledge-based economy, highly qualified people and great educational facilities but there are gaps, and we need to bridge the divide. Our draft economic development strategy identifies a number of ways in which we can drive our city forward while embracing the qualities that make it special.

"Transport is also a high priority across the Auckland region. We have big challenges ahead with the highest motor vehicle ownership per household (1.7) in our city and many people favouring the convenience of their car to public transport.

"Water is another key area," says George Wood. "We've listened to our community and invested a tremendous amount into improving beach water quality but there's still a way to go to reach our environmental targets."

"We're continuing to make progress in these areas and will encourage initiatives that contribute to our community's valued quality of life," he says.

The first Quality of Life report was published in 2001 to raise the profile of urban policy issues and provide a snapshot of life in urban New Zealand. The 2003 report builds on this and provides the latest statistics and findings. It shows the links between social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being, and how these contribute to city people's quality of life.

A copy of the Quality of Life report is available from www.northshorecity.govt.nz or for more information about the project, people are invited to check out www.bigcities.govt.nz.

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