The imbalance between Auckland and regions such as Otago
is becoming more pronounced, a Royal Society of New Zealand
''Our Futures: Te Pae Tawhiti'' uses data from Census 2013 to
highlight what New Zealand society might look like and the
challenges it faces.
Pulled together by a panel, including University of Otago
emeritus professor Erik Olssen, the report reviews data on
seven key themes - diversity, population growth, tangata
whenua, migration, households and families, regional
variation and work.
It found regions such as Otago faced ongoing challenges as
Auckland continued to grow, attracting more businesses and a
concentration of skills.
''There is an emerging imbalance in the country between
Auckland ... and the regions which is most marked in rural
Canterbury and Southland grew due in part to the turn to
dairying, while Central Otago, including Queenstown, grew but
at a slightly lower rate, and coastal Otago hardly at all.
However, overall internal migration between regions
decelerated, the report said.
These changes meant councils would have increasing difficulty
in maintaining service levels for an ageing and possibly
dwindling population, Prof Olssen said.
''Maintaining infrastructure needed economically will become
more difficult for ratepayers to sustain.''
The reluctance to accept the withdrawal of local
infrastructure would become more intense rather than less.
That raised the question of whether the Government needed to
plan for ''red zones'' for councils not able to meet their
responsibilities, he said.
Recent floods which had damaged Northland roads highlighted
''In some rural areas, roads are already too costly for
locals to maintain, even though they are essential to
The imbalance was contributing to ''resentful'' feelings some
provinces had towards what was happening in Auckland, Prof
''We hope it contributes to the debate on the issues we need
to think about and talk about.''
Royal Society president Sir David Skegg, of Dunedin, who
wrote the foreword to the report, said New Zealand's
population was in a period of rapid change, with implications
for the economy, social cohesion, the place of Maori,
education and health.
It aimed to promote informed discussion on the changing
nature of New Zealand society, he said.