Thursday, December 9

Whangārei: New 30-year growth strategy for one of New Zealand’s fastest growing districts

Whangārei’s huge population growth is one of the key features addressed in the district’s new 30-year growth strategy.

Whangārei Harbor Entrance with Reotahi and Marsden Point.

Whangārei Harbor Entrance with Reotahi and Marsden Point.
Photo: Defender of the North

The Whangārei District Council formally adopted its new growth strategy and the district’s population is forecast to increase to 145,000 people by 2051, an increase of 45 percent.

The strategy seeks to manage growth, with strong bicultural relationships between the council and the Maori, towards a future with up to 20,000 more houses, 200 hectares of new industrial land and, as a result, the growing challenges to protect the natural assets of the district, all in a world challenged by the weather.

Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said the “Sustainable Futures – Kia Toitū ā Mua” strategy provided a basis for effectively managing the district’s growth over the next three decades.

A rich natural environment, a thriving economy and a welcoming community have contributed to making Whangārei one of the fastest growing districts in New Zealand, he said.

Marsden Point / Ruakākā’s growth exceeded predicted population increases and was forecast to triple – the area’s current housing area was dwarfed by significant future development that increased its existing footprint by 200 percent.

Waipū’s population was expected to increase by 118 percent, and its footprint would triple with future new development targeting the settlement’s southwest, northwest, and northeast. The intensification for part of the existing area of ​​the settlement was also highlighted.

Intensification of infill and redevelopment housing as planned for downtown, including Kensington, Regent and Morningside, to provide housing for a projected 14 percent population increase for downtown Whangārei.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that our infrastructure, housing, transportation and economy are planned with this growth in mind, allowing our district to provide a sustainable future for all of us,” Mai said.

Sheryl Mai, Mayor of Whangarei

Sheryl Mai, Mayor of Whangarei.
Photo: Defender of the North

Thirteen hundred presentations from the community were part of the three-year process of creating the new strategy, which can be seen in the [ council’s website].

Whangārei’s population is expected to reach 100,000 for the first time this year. Marginal urban communities and coastal settlements are experiencing the highest population growth.

Whangārei’s position as the northernmost city in the interregional upper North Island of New Zealand was a key factor in the district’s future growth, according to the strategy. Fifty-four percent of New Zealand’s population now lived in Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, Auckland, and Northland. Significant growth was putting pressure on the environment, housing, infrastructure and space in this bloated upper North Island.

Four parts of the district have been designated as high growth in the next 30 years: Marsden Point / Ruakākā, Kamo, Tikipunga and the city of Whangārei. Housing for these areas was forecast to come primarily from new areas, significantly increasing their footprints. Housing growth for the City of Whangārei was forecast to come from infill housing and redevelopment in the suburbs, including Ōtangarei, Kensington, Mairtown, Regent and Avenues.

Mount Manaia with the Marsden Point Oil Refinery at the entrance to the Whangarei port in the background.

Mount Manaia with the Marsden Point oil refinery at the entrance to the Whangārei port in the background.
Photo: Defender of the North

Six parts of the district have been identified as areas of moderate growth: Waipū, Hikurangi, Maunu, Ōtāika, nerāhi, and Pārua Bay.

These growth locations would focus development throughout the district.

The large number of New Zealanders moving to the Whangārei district is expected to continue.

“If our district can preserve its attractive natural surroundings and relatively affordable housing while improving income and labor force participation, then it is likely to see sustained growth, primarily attracting New Zealanders from other regions,” the strategy says.

Up to 20,000 new homes were expected to be needed to accommodate the huge population growth.

The Papakāinga development was considered a special option for the provision of housing to the Maori.

This type of development also potentially included community, educational and recreational facilities, gathering places, and industrial and commercial activities, all directly associated with its communal nature and function.

There were around 11,000 hectares of Maori-owned land in the Whangārei district, the largest areas around the rural areas of Pipiwai and Pakotai. Coastal lands owned by the Maori include around Whangaruru, Ōakura, Ngunguru, and Takahiwai.

The strategy said that about 33 percent of the district’s population identified as Maori, and that the four areas with the highest percentages of Whangārei Maori in Whangārei were Otangarei (78 percent), Tarewa (65 percent), Raumanga (60 percent) and Hikurangi (52 percent). compared to 18 percent nationally.

Northport expansion, $ 240 million dry dock, relocation of New Zealand Royal Navy base from Devonport to Whangārei, rail infrastructure upgrade forecast for 28 percent increase in volumes of The region’s cargo to 23 million tons by 2042 were four large-scale projects that the strategy focused on to support the future of the district.

The Auckland to Northland corridor was considered a major influence on Whangārei’s future growth.

The big growth came with increasing pressure on the beaches and the natural environment, which were the key drivers for the growing number of people moving into the district.

WDC Councilwoman Anna Murphy said the growth created a paradox.

“How do we manage our growth and also protect our natural capital,” Murphy said.

The strategy said that care should be taken with consideration of the environment.

Coastal and rural areas were already facing more pressure as a result of development risks and climate change. Inappropriate subdivision and development and associated vegetation clearance and / or earthworks threatened the sensitive environment.

It was expected that more than 200 hectares of industrial land would be needed to support the growth of the district. The Whangārei Port at Marsden Point and the adjacent commercial and industrial lands offered significant future growth opportunity, particularly as port activity expanded.

Nine strategic drivers guide Whangārei’s new growth strategy:

  • Sustained growth and development
  • Successful economy
  • Housing needs
  • Climate change and natural hazards
  • Resilient infrastructure
  • Transportation options
  • Natural environment
  • Projects that support prosperity
  • Community resilience
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Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Association of News Publishers, and NZ On Air.

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