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Transport in Auckland and National’s deliberate incompetence

Written By: - Date published: 6:58 am, July 25th, 2017 - 36 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, im/migration, national, public transport, same old national, transport - Tags:

I am a oddity in Auckland. I grew up here and only of my parents was a migrant – from the King country. Which probably demonstrates where my parochialisms lie. I like having a  city in NZ that is big enough to be diverse enough to be on the world stage for business. That is why I stay here working exclusively on exporting intelligence and tech to the world rather then having left decades ago to get closer to my markets.

But the current rate of migration to Auckland at present is frigging ridiculous. We need to cut back because currently we are close to exceeding the “Very high migration scenario” outline in this report from stats. As long as the aussie economy stays in the doldrums and the lazy set of bozos in the National government in Wellington remain addicted to the unsustainable economic growth and taxes from nett migration, we have to plan on having a city of between almost twice the current size and more than 3 million in about 20 years.

But of course National definitely aren’t prepared to pay the costs of having high nett migration levels. Unlike Labour they are scared witless of giving Auckland the ability to take measures early enough to deal with it themselves. For instance the regional fuel tax due to take effect in 2009 that National government canned after they took office  and ruled out again earlier this year.  But also they appear to be interested in making sure that few of the transport taxes raised in Auckland go to benefit the rather large Auckland supercity.

So Auckland continues to get their historic less than half of the road related taxes raised in the region being used on transport related projects. The National government spends the difference outside the region or on projects in Auckland with no apparent economic justification that appear to be explicitly designed to increase congestion on our narrow isthmus. Meanwhile our congestion gets worse through their inaction on public transport and the rail freight that suits our geography.

The funds that National spend in the region often don’t appear to be related to Auckland. For instance, the ‘holiday highway‘ appears to me to be related more to the development of land banks up to Wellsford for development and the interests of Northland than the economic good of the Auckland region. The economic case for it doesn’t exist. It just has some kind of vague “good for northland” label on it without any attempt to quantify the benefits for Auckland or even Northland. Certainly the cost-benefit analysis that was provided was easily out-performed by either doing nothing or just doing a few passing bays and reducing corners.

National appear to have learnt from the lesson of the holiday highway. They now don’t even bother getting their NZTA minions to actually figure out if the taxes that they are  spending are worth anything. Take the East-West route for truckers… or look at Simon Wilson’s take at The Spinoff on it.

‘I have not quantified the benefits’: the astonishing truth about NZ’s most expensive road ever

I particularly liked this bit talking about Simon Bridges our erstwhile Minister of Transport lying about local support for the project…

He repeated the inaccurate assertion that this is a project of long standing: “This is a project that’s significant, that Auckland Council has prioritised, that Auckland business has prioritised, not just over a few years, over a very long time.”

The EWL is not mentioned in the Auckland Transport Alignment Accord (ATAP), which is the agreement signed last year between government and council on the way transport projects in the city should be progressed. Why not? Then finance minister Bill English explained at the time that because it was one of the Roads of National Significance (RONs) and planning was well underway, it didn’t need to be. But work hadn’t started; the road wasn’t even consented. English was effectively suggesting the government believes that when a roading project is especially important it doesn’t need to be subjected to the normal scrutiny.

FFS. This is road that is going to cause  massive amount of disruption to a significiant industrial areas of Auckland, along with the main tourism entry point to New Zealand, and an idiot pretending to be the minister in charge is lying about local government support?

The East-West Link is likely to cost close to $2 billion. As Harriet Gale discussed here yesterday, a part-alternative, to build a third rail track for freight in the area, would cost less than $60 million. Curiously, Minister Bridges also told The Nation he had not seen any details of the third-track proposal. In fact, it was submitted by KiwiRail for the 2017 budget. What is the minister telling us when he says he is not familiar with the budget proposals of his own officials, made just a few months ago? The third track, for the record, was rejected.

Probably because while it is a lot cheaper and less disruptive, it doesn’t help the trucking industry and National. It is just a far better alternative for Auckland. We don’t need more trucks filling on our roads – that is about a third of the reason that our existing southern motorways is clogged. You only have to drive it on a weekday to see them filling the road. The only rationale that I can see for the Est-West Motorway is to make it easier for trucks to fill SH16 in going out of Auckland in both directions. Why in the hell would Aucklanders want that enormously expensive boondoggle over a freight line that does the same thing at a fraction of the cost.

Meanwhile there are a few projects that National has actually funded that are useful for Auckland rather than their voters outside of Auckland. Like the double tracking and electrification of commuter rail and the SH16 motorway. However the defining characteristic of those projects was that they were already existing and funded projects from the previous Labour government. There are other useful projects directly caused by those projects like the SH16 widening or like the City Rail Link. The latter was pushed forward by the local government paying for the design and over the strenuous foot dragging about funding by the National government. 

National appear to be completely uninterested in spending Aucklander’s transport taxes on Auckland. Instead they want to put in boondoggle roads that have no economic measurable benefits for Auckland while increasing the road congesting trucks on our roads. While at the same time massively hiking up the nett migration that mostly stays in Auckland.

Why do National hate Auckland?


BTW: Try to stay reasonably on my topic.If you don’t know it then read the policy before commenting. I’ll tolerate disagreement and robust debate. But I have a three month ban button and a lack of interest in warnings just waiting for diversion trolls because I just dislike you.

36 comments on “Transport in Auckland and National’s deliberate incompetence ”

  1. Tamati Tautuhi 1

    Our company’s transport division is currently down to 4 deliveries a day compared to 8 deliveries a day 10 years ago, hence a 50% drop in productivity ?

    Basic economic analysis ?

    There is a severe dysfunctional relationship between Central Government and the Auckland Super City set up by Rodney Hide ACT ?

    No future planning on transport, housing, infrastructure or the environment ?

    Just free market neoliberal economics which has failed world wide over the past 30-40 years ?

    • lprent 1.1

      From what I have seen that would be common. The trucks seem to spend much of their day crawling on the southern or jammed up behind long lines at the lights.

      Being a programmer I mostly spend my life away from the roads. But my common intracity run from the city to PBTech in Penrose for computer parts is now just a tedious 45 minutes on at least one leg most days in the week and for much of the weekend.

      Gone are the days from the early 90s when I could commute almost all days from Grey Lynn to Manakau city in less than 20 minutes. Or even just a usual 30 minute commute from Grey Lynn to Albany just 8 years ago. Nowdays I’ll only accept jobs if they are within about 5kms from home.

      It must be hell on businesses. I’m surprised that so many are still in the city bounds.

  2. Wayne 2

    Most industrial users need trucks, not rail. A rail link instead of the the proposed East West road link would be vastly less useful. Rather than disrupting the Onehunga, Penrose, and Otahuhu industrial area, it would make it a lot more efficient. In fact industry in the area will be the main drivers for the link.

    Almost no factories have their own rail siding. Trucks pick things up at the factory and take them to the relevant warehouse, building site, retail outlet anywhere in Auckland.

    The obsession about rail on the left ignores how freight, pretty much anywhere in the western world, actually gets distributed. In Italy where I was last year, trucks were everywhere, they are just so much more practical for many types of freight than rail.

    I guess it is one of those issues where the left and right just see things differently. I presume because rail is centralised it suits the left control mentality, whereas roads, emphasising individual choice suits the right view that people can make their own choices.

    I appreciate that transport choices are more complex than that, but just about any left view on transport seems to say rail is good and roads are bad.

    But Iprent, you must have noticed the improvements in travel around Auckland as a result of the Waterview tunnel.

    The 4 lane highway north is more about growth opportunities around Warkworth than Wellsford. Have a look at the Unitary Plan on this.

    I agree that the extension beyond Warkworth is about the North. But if you want to free up Auckland Port, and get rid of the container terminal then you would support high quality road (and rail) to North Port so that would become the main container terminal. It would also hugely boost the North. No bad thing for both Auckland and Northland I would have thought.

    • Tamati Tautuhi 2.1

      Most human beings in modern urban societies travel by rail, it is a very efficient mode of transport in modern metropolis around the world. I guess Aucklander’s just prefer sitting in cars all day ?

    • adam 2.2

      Trucks have their place (so sad you went for stereotypes of the left) , but to be the be all and end all of a transport system, it is not working. Yes many on the left are arguing for a more integrated system. A system which includes trucks, trains and other forms of transport.

      You live in Auckland Wayne, you know how hard it is to get around.

      Have the Tory MP’s for Auckland dropped the ball? Are they that weak in relation to their workmates from the rest of the country?

      • Carolyn_nth 2.2.1

        I travel regularly from the city to Takapuna – bus beats car most times for speed and getting close to my destination – parking’s a nightmare.

        Ther northern motorway always seems overloaded. And for people living around the North Shore, travelling to and from the motorway can be a time-consuming, traffic-clogged experience.

        Northern Busway is great for fast movement of numbers of people.

        They should have better developed the rail north for freight and people, rather than closing down the systems and focusing so much on roads.

    • Carolyn_nth 2.3

      I presume because rail is centralised it suits the left control mentality, whereas roads, emphasising individual choice suits the right view that people can make their own choices.

      More centralised, how? Roads are maintained and administered by centralised authorities.

      Rail distributes people across space. It is more collective, but collective use can be more economical and less environmentally damaging, than individualistic forms.

      Extensive use of cars and trucks has as much to do with the power of the automotive industry as it does with what is most efficient for the country as a whole.

    • Molly 2.4

      My partner has worked with the freight industry for many years Wayne, and he sees the long term benefit of using trains to transport from the wharves to hubs and further down the country for distribution. Factories producing do the same, and can move their goods at night to hubs for distribution. The solution requires people to work out of normal working hours, but that already happens.

      The decision to allow heavier trucks on the road, not only impacts on the traffic but increases the wear and tear on the roads. Benefits the trucking companies – and we pick up the cost.

      Extra rail lines means that rail freight can operate at night, and be utilised by more commuter trains during the day. Only those who work in offices think that the transport industry doesn’t go 24 hours.

      The failure to do cost/benefit analysis on the roads before making a decision, (or alternatively to ignore the cost/benefit ratio because it does not meet the requirements for proceeding) is a failure of this National government. It also does not include in the cost/benefit analysis the failure to provide transition systems away from the use of fossil fuels, the social, environmental and health costs of more roading.

      (I tend to agree with lprent on the reasoning behind the northern highway)

    • Almost no factories have their own rail siding.

      Well, not now they don’t, no – not after successive governments trashed the rail system. Last time I worked in a factory was the mid-1980s, and we loaded the stuff directly onto railway wagons for transport, like all the other factories located near the rail line for that purpose. The only trucks loaded were local ones. Driving on the nation’s roads was a much more pleasant experience back then.

      • lprent 2.5.1

        So did I at Ceramco. But in any case local trucks taking stuff 1-5km to a local siding aren’t a problem. It is long-haul carting stuff 30-100kms through Auckland that is a pain.

        • McFlock

          Yeah, a bit like logging and stock trucks going through central Dunedin at all hours.

    • lprent 2.6

      Based on past experience in that area, most of the trucks are going from Penrose to outside of Auckland rather than inside the city. You can tell by the type of truck. Those carting containers and missing the port are invariably travelling onwards.

      What they are doing is chewing up the road space in a constrained area.

      In the Auckland isthmus roading system you have to travel 40-50 kilometres north or south before they hit open road. More importantly they simply aren’t paying for that scarce resource. The cars and local delivery trucks are in effect subsidizing the truckies.

      In Italy where I was last year, trucks were everywhere, they are just so much more practical for many types of freight than rail.

      I’ve been in Italy 3 times over the last 3 years for work. I’ve spent close to 6 months there all up. That is a completely spurious and generalist argument. For a starter Italy has about 78 million people and I saw way less large trucks in their cities than I do in Auckland. For a starter every city even quite small ones had ring roads around the city. Kind of hard to do that with Auckland don’t you think?

      But if you looked at the actual traffic loads in Italy, you’d realize that most of the trucks you are seeing are mostly just the feeders from the rail systems.

      Trucks may be useful for some point to point (and I’d argue against it there as well) in the plains areas in Germany or Austria. But Italy? Just like here you could run the whole country freight system with a couple of rails lines and truck feeder routes.

      Two of my trips were up by the Brenner pass, purportedly one of the heaviest truck routes in Europe. What is noticeable is that in constrained road spaces like there or in the Auckland isthmus is that long-haul trucks are a moving obstruction that just chew up road space. They constitute most of the road space.

      What is also noticeable is that Auckland during a week day has about half the same number of long-haul trucks travelling the southern motorway. And that is increasing rapidly. This is a daft system to try in a isthmus city like Auckland.

      But Iprent, you must have noticed the improvements in travel around Auckland as a result of the Waterview tunnel.

      Compared to when? Lets be generous and say when the enabling works were started in March 2010. At that point the Auckland region population was estimated at 1,45 million. Now the population is estimated at 1.57 million. Now it is increasing by about 40k people per year and expected to continue. The population of vehicles has increased even faster.

      Waterview has only been open for a couple of weeks. But no I haven’t seen any particular changes in those weeks.

      The traffic appears to have been just as appalling as it was beforehand on local roads and on the long haul roads. More importantly it is close to 50% worse than it was in March 2010. The only thing that I have noticed is that there are more trucks on SH16. But I haven’t noticed diminution on the SH1 southern.

      Because the answer to that is that roading was way too little and way too late. It’d have been far better to expand the Wiri freight terminus, put one up past Silverdale (and a train line to it) and get the damn long-haul trucks off the Auckland roads.

      The 4 lane highway north is more about growth opportunities around Warkworth than Wellsford. Have a look at the Unitary Plan on this.

      There is nothing much worth doing economically on past the current north eastern motorway. Certainly nothing that has a high enough cost-benefit compared to fixing up Auckland’s transport. There are vast areas within the existing urban bounds next to existing roads and rail that could be developed first. Why would anyone in their right mind want to waste money up there?

      I agree that the extension beyond Warkworth is about the North. But if you want to free up Auckland Port, and get rid of the container terminal then you would support high quality road (and rail) to North Port so that would become the main container terminal. It would also hugely boost the North. No bad thing for both Auckland and Northland I would have thought

      Just putting a moderately direct double tracked rail link to Northport would be sufficient and several orders of magnitude cheaper.

    • Most industrial users need trucks, not rail.

      Strange then that companies that actually do the transporting are demanding more rail then.


      You would think that these businesses would know what they need and that National, being the party of business, would be listening to them. Perhaps the problem is that National are too busy listening to other businesses.

      Then there’s the growing use of public transport that National ignores as well. According to National all those people are making the wrong decision and should go out and buy cars because that’s what National are building for.

      But Iprent, you must have noticed the improvements in travel around Auckland as a result of the Waterview tunnel.

      Normal congestion to resume shortly:

      In transportation, this well-established response is known in various contexts as the Downs-Thomson Paradox, The Pigou-Knight-Downs Paradox or the Lewis-Mogridge Position: a new road may provide motorists with some level of respite from congestion in the short term but almost all of the benefit from the road will be lost in the longer term.

      You’re talking out your arse again Wayne.

    • halfcrown 2.8

      “But Iprent, you must have noticed the improvements in travel around Auckland as a result of the Waterview tunnel.”

      The jury is still out on that Wayne, I wonder how it will be in a few months as it was conveniently opened during the school holidays and Transit New Zealand was asking commuters not to use the thing for a couple of weeks unless you had to. This tells me it is not going to work after some experts have voiced their concerns over this project and one wonders, is it yet another National government white elephant?

      Also, we hear all the good news about the bypass of Hamilton how it is going to cut 30 minutes off the journey. No, it won’t, all it will do is get you to the truck ladened traffic jam called the southern motorway 30 minutes earlier. A billion dollars at this stage for the Hamilton bypass, 17 bridges in a 22 k’s stretch of road ridiculous.
      One wonders how much that could go towards a wide gauge high-speed commuter service from Hamilton to Auckland especially now townships like Te Kuawhata, Huntly are the new commuter belt. No thought for future planning.

      Another bit of non-future proofing is, the removal of the rail bridge just outside Taumaranui cutting the Taumarunui to Stratford line. This was a great alternative route for rail when they had trouble on the main trunk line like the Tangiwhai disaster. Was it removed because the trucking lobby wanted bigger and better trucks to be able to go down this road and the bridge was an obstruction or was it so someone could overcharge for stupid converted golf carts to use this line? Removing this bridge has cut this section of the king country off from the rest by rail, and the only way you can get to the interior is by winding twisting roads
      I had a different experience to your Italian one the last time I visited the UK, derelict lines that were closed when I was a kid were being re opened for freight and passenger traffic by the then Thatcher and Major Tory governments. So it looks like they have an obsession for rail as well when it suits.

    • lloyd 2.9

      The east-west link will be a truck park. There will be nowhere to go to at the east (the southern motorway!!!! and the western end will clog the south-western. Grow up – putting a third line down the main-trunk line will allow better passenger use of the rail network, will get cars off the road and will allow the present road network, including the southern motorway to be used by trucks more efficiently.

  3. adam 3

    I had a civil engineer come and spew frustration at my desk over the east-west link. He knew he would have to take the government to court, and felt very sick about having to go that far. It seems that there are massive design faults with the project, especially at the Onehunga end. Which if they are built, could effectively create gridlock at peek times.

    I’m not sure what they are thinking, as we need to shape our economy to deal with environmental change. Trucks are not the answer. Bit it would seem national have blinkers on, this is more than just third term idiocy, this is somthing worse – ideology, dressed up as reason.

  4. More to the point is why do he Nat’s hate any form off public transport.
    There denial of the benefit of rail is bizarre .They seem determined to just build roads and more roads. Its not only Auckland that has traffic jams just come back to Cambridge from Hamilton .Bumper to bumper between 4pm and 7pm .Nat’s dream is off a concrete jungle.

    • Wayne 4.1

      The Pink Postman

      That must be why National is building the Central Rail Loop, because they hate rail.

      Mor seriously I think the next most important project in Auckland is a North West busway. As Carolyn_nth says the Northern busway has been a great success. I was an early supporter of it against the views of our then Transport person.

      Any comment about shifting the Auckland container terminal to NorthPort?

      It will require a rebuild of the rail line north to Marsden Point as well as a rebuilt highway. It is already going to be 4 laned to Te Hana. The rest of the road also needs improving, especially on the south side of the Brendowyn Hill. It may not need to be 4 laned the whole way to Marsden Point, but a fair bit of to should be.

      • Molly 4.1.1

        National is bedgrudgingly promising to build the CRL, because so many of their voters are in favour of it, and will benefit by it. They can’t afford to leave it with that level of support behind it.

        A political reason, not a logical or responsible one.

      • lprent 4.1.2

        The existing railway route isn’t particularly good and should be rerouted if its primary purpose was to do the port. I think it is also single line.

        Have a look at this.

        But the key part of it is that bringing the rail up to scratch would cost no more than a billion dollars and:-

        Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter told the 400-strong crowd the transport budget needs to include the rail network.

        She says a billion dollars a year is spent on new state highway projects.

        “Putting a billion dollars into an 18 kilometre stretch of highway from Puhoi to Warkworth is not going to transform Northland’s economy,” Genter says.

        She says that billion dollars would achieve enormous economic, environmental and safety benefits if it was spent on Northland rail.

        Bearing in mind that this government turned down a 60 million proposal to third track Penrose to Onehunga for freight, instead opting to waste billions of dollars on a road – I’d guess that we have to dump National before any progress could be made.

        Comments Wayne?

        • Albert Barr

          How disappointing Wayne has gone to ground and has no answer.

          As front man for the campaign group that put that forum on I am please to announce we are hosting another on the 11th of September. Pretty much the same line up, Peters, Genter and the inclusion of Jones, and this time David Parker for Labour.

          The question remains who from the senior party ranks will National put up? Bridges, McIndoe or Joyce?

          Last year the turn out was near 500 at least a third true blue Tories there to cheer on their man Reti who was cowardly thrown under a freight train by Bridges.

          This time we fully expect 800 and the MSM all want in. Combine the good Northland folk are salivating at the prospect of what is on offer. I hasten to add the seat of Whangarei may hinge on whether they show or not?

          Showtime Joycie we have a seat on stage for you the biggest fish. Step up chap let the party faithful hear your snake oil, you full well know they blame you for the Northland by-election failure. Redemption time or else it’s over!

      • KJT 4.1.3

        The Auckland, international! container shipping should be shifted to Marsden Point. That is a no brainer. Decent road and rail links will be needed to do that, but also a coastal container ship port and feeder service through Auckland to Marsden point. It could have been sited at Te Atatu, but POAL sold the land. Another right wing brain fart.
        Cutting out a huge amount of traffic through the central city.

        The economic and logistics advantages for Tauranga, of the Kaimai road and rail links would work exactly the same for Northland.

        At the moment the right wing driven fake competition between ports, and the subsidies/corporate welfare, for trucking, precludes the most efficient solutions for the whole country.
        Imagine if coastal shipping only had to cover the actual costs of ports. Or only a percentage, like trucking (Trucks road user charges cover nowhere near their actual costs) . Instead of 12% returns on a fictional “opportunity cost”, of selling the land.

      • That must be why National is building the Central Rail Loop, because they hate rail.

        After trying very hard not to fund it they realised that they actually had to otherwise they were going to end up with a really pissed off Auckland.

        Mor seriously I think the next most important project in Auckland is a North West busway.

        I’d prefer light rail down the motorways. Carries more people more efficiently.

        Any comment about shifting the Auckland container terminal to NorthPort?

        That would depend upon the increased level of inefficiencies introduced by the increased delivery and handling against efficiencies created wouldn’t it ?

      • halfcrown 4.1.5

        “That must be why National is building the Central Rail Loop, because they hate rail.”

        Wayne If National doesn’t hate rail why did they not support old Sir Dove Meyer (Robbie) when he proposed the Central Loop way back in the 70’s Dollar for dollar it would have been a lot cheaper then and the basis of a transit system that could have been expanded to serve all of Auckland’s suburbs. As usual by National, no thought about future proofing,

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.6

        *cough* Cullen’s trainset *cough*

    • More to the point is why do he Nat’s hate any form off public transport.

      Oh, that’s simple – doesn’t make any profits for their constituents.

  5. savenz 5

    Great post. There is a massive productivity problem now in Auckland. People just don’t want to go too far, or travel across the city. It can take 1/2 day just to go across the city if you are unlucky with a detour, peak traffic, continual repairs or upgrades or a road accident – all of which seem to be more and more likely (It’s slightly better at present as National seem to be trying to clear up the roads a lot more now we are getting closer to election time, surprise, surprise).

    The congestion charge is just a charge to punish working class people more. Poorer people are more likely to be pushed out further, be on less flexible schedule and it costs them more to travel. Many parts of Auckland have little public transport options, but they are also inflexible and expensive..

    Typical National taking profits of migration and then pushing the problems and costs onto locals who can least afford it.

    Vote the National clowns out of Auckland!

    • savenz 5.1

      National are also ripping off the migrants that came here for a better life wanting more peace and quiet and less congestion and pollution than their home country, only to find that National don’t care about that, they want to recreate Bangkok and LA traffic sprawl, with Shanghai pollution, here in Auckland.

      If they let Auckland grow with less haste, we would all be better off!

  6. Siobhan 6

    If iprent can be away from his market by living in Auckland with no ill effect…then why can’t we all spread out a bit.
    Call centres, Government departments, small businesses, big businesses…why not move to the provinces?
    What is the particular advantage of having a business in a city where transport is a nightmare and employees are unable to afford the rent, let alone buy their own house.

    • lprent 6.1

      It doesn’t quite work that way. It depends why you go to a large city, and usually that is because of suppliers. In my case while what I personally do is software, the platforms I run it on are bespoke or very small production runs of hardware.

      1. That requires a infrastructure of other very specialised firms out there. For instance a firm capable of doing the electromagnetic testing and certifying the result. Companies to do the heat and cold testing and certify the results. Companies experienced in giving me the kinds of computer graphics i need for teeny screens. and a host of other services. Companies that do precision machining of everything from 3D printed cases, to dies, to prototype PCBs and any number of other things.

      2. A major university. We mine them for talent and advice.

      3. An international airport with very regular flights. That is because we get a lot of lot of small high value goods from offshore and ship them that way as well. We (including me unfortunately) travel to site, customers or trade shows. Customers, financiers and remote sales people come here. And let me tell you. It isn’t the 20 odd hours to a European or US hub that causes issues. It is the damn regional flights, trains, and driving at the end that exhausts you. They typically add another 5-10 hours on to the trip – and a lot more if you’re heading to chinese PCB plants. To do them on this end as well…. Well I won’t do it. The 3 hours drive to my parents in Rotorua on top of flight… or the longer shagging around in regional airport urrgh

      4. Generally people. Here we can hire or obtain the services of a specialist already living here in some obscure but crucial speciality (like me 🙂 ). Anything from antenna tuning to tracking an obscure drop in signal strength on a comms channel to a predilection to making large code work in very small boxes. Or we can get the latest obsessed people straight from academia

      5. And up here I can change jobs without having to change cities. There are at least 30 companies I could work for up here without upgrading any skills. Probably 4 times as many would be glad to get me. In somewhere like Napier, Tauranga or Dunedin or even Hamilton there would be only a few.

      There is a reason why big cities keep attracting people. With the support clusters, you can work there in things more interesting than than the local economy and you can work in a lot of places in the same city with more interesting people drawn from the whole world. For people with a lot of valuable skills the housing is an irritation. For the people who teach our kids, run bookstores, or make coffee, or just out of uni it is way more problematic.

      Even so, I turned down a lot of opportunities by not heading offshore back in the 1990s. It took a few decades to help build up the infrastructure to support geeks like myself in the style that we like

      But I’d certainly support kicking the bureaucrats elsewhere.

      • As I said the other day, the only way to develop the regions is to turn them into cities.

        • lprent

          Yeah it is a problem. The problem is that you have to build a ecosystem of supporting companies. In particular transport is the key – because the ecosystem spreads well outside any one city (or country)..

          You also can’t take that much risk and have to be damn careful about what kind of ecosystem you build it for.

          A few decades ago I spent a decade to start a company that was pure programming over the network. We ran our servers offshore and everything is virtual. Still running, still turning over millions per year.

          But what it did bring home to me was the lack of barriers to entry and the way that the biggest dominated in that sphere. Think of facebook, twitter and the like.

          That is a reason that I afterwards shifted to writing software for vertical market hardware. It is a lot simpler to build the sustained smaller businesses that suit NZ. And a hell of a lot safer for our economy.

          Just think of the differences between the Finns with the fallover of a single company Nokia, and the Germans with their multitudes of small engineering companies that are the best or next best in the world

          • greywarshark

            Great points about NZ cf to Finland and Germany lprent. I am wondering if we can have a system of guilds that operates at different levels of technology.

            There could be centres based on working with wood. Handmade chairs, carvings, furniture design and build which would be very boutique based, then factories turning out wooden chairs, tables and chairs in wood not veneer, then perhaps a pre-pack housing factory and so on.

            Then another would be a wine and cordial centre, could be L & P plus others, fruit and vegetable juices, local wine made of different fruits.
            Two events a year to taste, dance, listen to music, be attractive to visitors for their joie de vivre, and connection with good health, which would lead to other events on relaxed exercises, lovely walks and outdoor activities in the right weather.

            Getting a depth and a connection to each other within regions, having a local domestic market, friendly connections with nearby regions reaching out to trade and learn from each other, going on to a north and south island market, a regional Pacific market and a larger country market. There would be keen involved people living their work not just working to live, steeped in their skills, and trying for appellation products so building their regional mana. Lots of business and social interaction.

            Would bring community, jobs, loyalty, sense of purpose, competitiveness, fighting skills to get new markets, it would be intriguing to others, and there would be a brand name for the region’s chosen product that all would have as secondary to their own small business logo.

    • greywarshark 6.2

      It used to be that businesses shifted head office to Auckland to be with all the others and also it was just a hop over to Oz and so you were on the big-boys circuit.

      • lprent 6.2.1

        Largely it still is.

        There is a smaller version in ChCh for some of the engineering based around their airport, and the lobbying pull of Wellington is another pull (think of Weta).

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