Has Auckland’s future ever looked brighter? Some would say the housing affordability crisis, looming transportation shortfalls and changing natural environment make the future look bleak. Others think our record growth poises Auckland for the biggest success we’ve ever achieved.

We’re passionate about shaping the future of Auckland together, so we decided to hold a debate on the city’s growing pains – with a twist. The debate teams represented two generations – young guns making their way in the city and old hands who helped shape it: millennials vs. baby boomers. Though there were plenty of jabs about the changing pace of life in Auckland over the years, the similar sentiment from both teams might surprise you.

Auckland’s future has never looked brighter – the affirmative statements

Our baby boomers debate team included Michael Barnett (Auckland Chamber of Commerce), Alan McMahon (Colliers International) and Clive Fuhr (Panuku Development Auckland). The excitement surrounding Auckland’s growth was a major selling point for the team, who noted thousands of new jobs and unheard of population growth.

“We must pedal faster,” said Michael Barnett. “There will be housing and infrastructure growing pains, but other cities have done it.”

Clive Fuhr added, “We’re always one election away from changing our future,” emphasising that matters of public policy that are causing housing pains are easily solved.

Contrary to the stereotypes, the team stressed that they’re just like any millennial – they drink chai lattes, they carry AT HOP cards and they enjoy disrupting their industries.

Auckland’s future is looking bleak – the negative statements

Our millennials debate team welcomed Julie Anne Genter (Green Party MP), Chris Farhi (Colliers International), and Michael Crutchley (Beca Cost Management). They were a bit more jaded when it came to the future, noting the brain drain to other regions (and other countries) despite Auckland’s efforts to attract educated millennials.

Chris Farhi poked fun at the boomers by asking for a $600,000 salary to bring the relative cost of housing down to what it was when the boomers were purchasing their first homes. He argued that the average house in the 1970s cost that equivalent of 27,000 McDonald’s Big Macs; now, it’ll take 142,000 burgers to own a piece of the Kiwi dream. And of course, Julie Anne Genter pointed out that we’re not funding public transport nearly as much as we could be.

The final result

Although the millennial debaters argued well in favour of Auckland’s future looking bleak, it was clear to all participants that our future looks very bright. And in the end, the boomers took the crowd-voted win, slightly edging out the millennials.

They may have won this debate, but how will Auckland look in 5, 10, 20, and 50 years from now? Will growth have pushed Auckland to the forefront as a world-class city, or will today’s quality of life difficulties only be magnified? Only time will tell. There are no quick fixes, but if we keep this discussion in the forefront of our minds we can solve the problems of our growing city.

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Matt Wheeler

Business Director - Project Strategy and Delivery

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