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It will come as little surprise to Dunedin residents that the city topped the polls in the latest Quality of Life survey.

Of Dunedin residents surveyed, 88% rated their overall quality of life good or extremely good.

There are, of course, limitations to the results.

The Quality of Life survey is a local government research partnership between Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Porirua, Hutt, Christchurch and Dunedin City Councils and Waikato and Wellington Regional Councils. 

Because only these areas are surveyed, comparisons cannot be made with the likes of Oamaru, Queenstown, Invercargill or Cromwell.

It is also worth noting the numbers, while not matching Dunedin, are high in the other cities and regions surveyed. 

Wellington came in only one percentage point behind Dunedin at 87% and nowhere  fared badly. 

Christchurch has suffered since the earthquakes and it was at 78%.  The overall average was 81%.

Everywhere, under quality of life, "good" outnumbered "extremely good" by about three to one, tempering a little enthusiasm about the high percentages.

The negatives should be recognised as well.

A total of 80% perceive alcohol or drugs to be a big problem or a bit of a problem in Dunedin.

Given issues in the central city and well-published student alcohol consumption, that is not surprising. 

Surprisingly, however, the Auckland figure is only 51%. 

Perhaps Aucklanders have other problems to focus on.

While Dunedin people feel safe on the whole,  perceptions of safety after dark in central Dunedin slip under 50%. 

This reflects serious matters that should not be ignored.

Dunedin does well on housing affordability, and  not so well on physical health compared with other centres.

What is particularly impressive is Dunedin coming out on top for physical exercise. 

A total of 53% of Dunedin respondents reported physical activity five or more days a week, compared with the national average of 45%.

One area of concern throughout the country is regarding local councils, their performance and attitudes to them. 

Only four in 10 (39%) respondents have confidence  their local council makes decisions in the best interests of their city or area, a figure dragged down by Aucklanders’ views of their council. 

Dunedin is average and Hutt the best. 

Scores are low across most local government matters, although these do not strongly drive overall quality of life.

There are issues local government candidates have picked up on. 

A few have mentioned the quality of the housing stock, one has stressed law and order and most praise the quality of life as well as the ease of getting around a 10-minute city.

The survey results are broadly positive,  while also highlighting areas of concern. 

Dunedin has a lot to be proud of, and a lot to work on.

Planning flexibility

It is reassuring to see the Dunedin City Council demonstrating flexibility on its proposed district plan regarding the University of Otago and Dunedin Hospital.

The university has expressed concern new planning rules creating separate zones for the hospital and university areas could damage its relationship with the hospital and limit its growth ambitions.

The university needed the flexibility to change and grow.

Council staff have accepted the  logic and will work on amendments making it easier for "complementary" activities in the campus zone without allowing "wholesale" commercial development.

University vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said commercialising research and linking with business was an increasingly important part of its growth strategy. 

That is the way it should be, and Dunedin wishes it every success in this endeavour. 

The university, however,  has been talking about such commercialisation for decades.

While successes have occurred, so far they are limited given the university’s size.


Reuben Online, Remember the time before 'lines': Imperial, reams, copy, Linotype, hot press?




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