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‘Auckland is Sucking the Life Out of New Zealand'

Tuesday 6 August, 2013

‘Auckland is Sucking the Life Out of New Zealand'

TV3 Invites Kiwis to Have Their Say on August 14 with ‘the Vote’

On August 14, The Vote will ask Kiwis their opinion on the statement ‘Auckland is sucking the life out of New Zealand’ in the sixth episode of TV3’s national debate programme, screening at 8.30pm on Wednesday night.

A coin toss has determined Duncan Garner will lead the ‘For’ team and Guyon Espiner the ‘Against’ team, with broadcaster and lawyer, Linda Clark again charged with keeping the debaters in line and on topic.

Auckland is big – a third of New Zealand’s population and growing, squeezed onto a narrow isthmus. Is it too big? And is that bad for the country as a whole? In the OECD, only Dublin, Ireland has a greater share of the national population – London, New York, Paris? Not even close.

Four new people arrive in Auckland on average every hour and while many of our regions are shrinking and ageing, Auckland is expected to have a million more people in the next 30 years. So is that growth New Zealand’s salvation or is it coming at too high a price for the rest? And for Auckland itself?

The Government last month announced an $11 billion plan for Auckland transport and a new national convention centre, while provincial mayors are letting sealed roads revert to metal and even the Prime Minister worries that Wellington is dying. Is that fair? Auckland’s property obsession is costing us export growth and jobs in the regions. And while Auckland prospers, isn’t it the heartland that makes the money?

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Auckland’s champions say New Zealand would be a glorified farm without the ‘big little city’. It’s the country’s shop window, attracts the talent from overseas and is our only internationally competitive city. New Zealand needs Auckland to keep growing, and growing fast.

So what do Kiwis think - Is Auckland sucking the life out of New Zealand?

Duncan Garner says: "Even the Prime Minister now admits he has to rethink the Government's regional growth approach. The provinces must not be forgotten. But they're not growing like they should be. Businesses are closing or relocating to Auckland and that hurts people and towns.

"Auckland is massive and growing faster than other regions. Someone arrives in Auckland every six minutes. The provinces are losing people and Auckland is over-heating. It's time for a rethink. We are NZ Inc not Auckland Inc."

Guyon Espiner says: “Kiwis might like to bag Auckland for a laugh but they know in their hearts that it’s our only city of international scale and gives us the clout to help the rest of New Zealand take on the world.

“Far from sucking the life out of New Zealand, Auckland gives life to the country – in culture, in commerce but mostly in its people: With its Maori and Pacific communities it has much of what makes New Zealand unique but then the world has come to Auckland as well. It’s one of the world’s most diverse cities and often ranked as one of the best places to live.

Auckland is great for New Zealand. Can 1.5 million Kiwis be wrong?”

Joining Duncan and Guyon next week are six panellists:

FOR – Led by Duncan
• Ganesh Nana is the Executive Director and Chief Economist at Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL), in Wellington. He worries the country’s policies are based around Auckland’s problems, instead of what’s best for the nation’s economy, and says Auckland needs to start operating as a team player.
• Urzila Carlson is one of New Zealand’s best-known comedians. The South African-born designer moved to New Zealand in 2006, and started her comedy career in 2008. A 7 Days regular, Carlson won Best Female Comedian at the 2010, 2011 and 2012 NZ Comedy Guild Awards. She spends a lot of time touring provincial New Zealand and believes Aucklanders’ attitude to the rest of the country is “out of sight, out of mind”.
• Garry Moore is a self-described “South Island enthusiast.” Elected Mayor of Christchurch in 1998 he led the city for three terms, standing down in 2007. He founded not-for-profit Your Home, which moves damaged houses from East Christchurch to more stable land, and says the rest of the country is tired of Auckland’s whining and excuses. He believes “the only way to beat a mongrel like Auckland is to do it better”.

AGAINST – Led by Guyon
• Tenby Powell is a multi-millionaire businessman who describes Auckland as the world’s greatest city. He had a 27-year career in the New Zealand Army regular and reserve force, and is currently Director of Hunter Powell Investments Ltd, he serves on various boards including Antarctica New Zealand and the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust. Powell stood as an Independent in the Waitemata & Gulf Ward at the Local Government elections in 2010, saying “if we fail Auckland, we fail New Zealand”.
• Oliver Driver is an actor, director, and broadcaste. Currently starring in the Silo Theatre production of Speaking in Tongues and directing Shortland Street, Driver is a proud born and bred Aucklander – a rare bird indeed – and is passionate about growing Auckland into world-class city that will keep our finest talent from being sucked offshore. He believes Auckland has a very important role as New Zealand diversifies its economic activity because “we can’t all be farmers”.
• Len Brown’s vision as Mayor of Auckland is for Auckland to be the world’s most liveable city. Educated and raised in South Auckland, Brown practised law before entering politics and was Mayor of Manukau before winning the Super City mayoralty in 2010. One of Brown’s key policy platforms was easing Auckland’s traffic woes, including the promise of building a $2.8 billion underground rail link in the central city, which the Government has recently agreed to support. But if you think Auckland has its fair share already, think again. Brown says, “we are not yet fit to meet the challenges” of the city’s projected growth.

The Vote is competitive current affairs – a monthly series of entertaining and informative national debates on the big issues facing New Zealanders. The debates take place in theatres with audience participation and voting, but the opinion that matters most is that of the audience watching at home.

Viewers are encouraged to vote for free at, via Twitter @TheVoteNZ and Facebook at The Vote NZ. Viewers can also text their vote by texting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to 3920 at a cost of 20 cents per text.

The Vote is produced by TV3’s News and Current Affairs division with funding from NZ On Air, and screens once every four weeks in the same timeslot as 3rd Degree.

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