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Artist’s impression of the new downtown public space on Auckland’s waterfront between Princes and Queens Wharves – Image courtesy of Auckland Council

Editorial – February / March’19

Most of Auckland’s major developments of infrastructure have been spurred by the city hosting an international sporting event.

For the Commonwealth Games in 1990, Mt Smart Stadium was wholly upgraded, a brand-new cycling velodrome was built at Manukau, and the Henderson Swimming Pools were redeveloped into the complex we now know as West Wave. The athletes’ village was built in Glen Innes and was later bought by the University of Auckland for its Tamaki campus.

Following Team New Zealand’s win of the America’s Cup in 1995 and due to host the defence in 2000, Auckland set about cleaning up and redeveloping the inner Viaduct Basin, which resulted in a lively public space of restaurants and apartments, with room on the western edge for the various sailing team bases (since relinquished for more apartments and a hotel).

Perhaps the greatest kick-start came from the Rugby World Cup of 2011, when it is estimated around $250 million was invested in infrastructure upgrades alone, including a major refurbishment of Eden Park, the development of Queens Wharf, and the start of Wynyard Quarter on the waterfront, which is still ongoing.

Now, two years out from another defence of the America’s Cup, work is underway again on the waterfront to prepare the city for the extra numbers of visitors and economic activity. Ask anyone about their experience of trying to drive through the CBD at the moment and almost universally the reply will be one of frustration. It’s very much a case of short-term pain for long-term gain.

But does the city really benefit from these extra facilities? Do the new stadia directly translate into an injection of dollars into the city’s coffers? In a report published in December 2011 after the last whistle had blown and Richie McCaw had held the Webb Ellis Cup aloft, titled ‘Treatment of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand’s balance of payments and national accounts’, Statistics NZ said the RWC made a positive contribution to the New Zealand economy, as measured in the balance of payments and national accounts.

International travel and migration statistics on short-term arrivals and departures clearly showed an increase in visitor numbers leading up to and during the RWC, with each visitor spending around $3400. Spending on New Zealand goods and services boosted the gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.7% in the September quarter. Combined retail trade activity for the September and December quarters was 5.7% higher compared with the same period the previous year.

While these are short-term benefits, the new facilities provide a long-term legacy for the city. No one can doubt the improvements to the city through the opening of our waterfront and the redevelopment of Wynyard Quarter which is slowly evolving into a highly desirable area of public, private and commercial spaces for living, working and playing.

Auckland’s vision is to be the world’s most liveable city, and while we’re not there yet, we’re almost certainly on our way.

Until next time …

Lynne Richardson, editor


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