2020 will now be the year that New Zealand will now rely on Auckland to get its shit together.
Auckland has done it before when it took most of the hosting for the 2010 Rugby World Cup. There, it helped pull the Auckland region economy out of a massive recession following the GFC.
When we’ve previously had a big drought hit the economy, the tourism sector has been there to shine. Now, with a sharemarket collapse, commodity dive, and a tourism collapse hitting simultaneously, two big areas of our economy have taken a hit together.
The government is assuring us that they will support the businesses who are hit the hardest – we are after all nothing if not a well subsidised form of capitalism here. There’s good reasons for that.
So now New Zealand has to rely on its one remaining economic tentpole getting itself together enough to prop up the economy. Auckland politicians have skited often enough that it’s over a third of the population and of the economy.
Now’s the time, Auckland.
2021 was going to be the Big Reveal for New Zealand: Auckland would take off its wrapping, dust itself off and show itself as having opened up its streets for people to engage directly with its wonderful harbour.
Next year we are to have the Americas Cup, the APEC leaders meeting, and all kinds of smaller events such as the men’s Softball World Cup, the Te Matatini kapa haka champs, and the Women’s World Cricket Cup. As Minister Phil Twyford noted in Idealog magazine last year:
The variety of events we’re hosting in 2021 showcases many different elements of Auckland and New Zealand on the world stage as a place to visit, study and invest. They tell a story about our people, our inclusivity, our determination and innovation – all of these things further enhance Auckland’s reputation as an international city.”
You get more in that vein here from last week.
All of those things still hold true. Except now they have to work.
The construction activity occurring in Auckland infrastructure is like nothing we have ever seen before. It extends from Ports of Auckland to the Harbour Bridge east to west, and from Mt Eden rail station to lower Queen Street north to south. Billions and billions of public money.
The tens of thousands of works and residents who have put up with this disruption for years, now find that their restaurants have gone out of business and their hotels have reported business drops of 60% or more. And this hasn’t even really started.
It’s time for Auckland to take the load.