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North Island

The following community stories are organised by location and show how North Island regions used 2006 Census data.


Planning for the future of Whangarei

The population of Whangarei is growing at a faster rate than most of New Zealand. Its beach lifestyle also attracts peak numbers of tourists during the summer months, which puts pressure on local infrastructure such as roads and sewerage.

The Whangarei District Council knew that community groups, some areas of the council, and local businesses needed more information to plan for this expanding population. With an increase of 6,369 people (or 9.4 percent) since 2001, the population of Whangarei is expected to grow further.

The council developed a growth model for the Whangarei district using development trends and population projections. This growth model shows the likely areas of population density and distribution to 2041.

The works and services department of the council uses the growth model to predict future infrastructure needs, like the potential size of a wastewater treatment plant being planned for Bream Bay. A local church group has also used the population projections to apply for the funding of a new church or congregation area as they are rapidly outgrowing their existing facilities. Developers and consultants, on the other hand, use the number of dwellings to assess potential property sales and demand for future developments.

A wide range of people in the community are benefiting from the freely available information from the local council and can now plan more effectively.



Auckland City plans for growth in central business district (CBD) apartments

The Auckland City Council uses census data to plan for growth in the Auckland CBD. Census data, including age, income profiles, and employment information is combined with other sources to capture a wide picture of people who live in the CBD.

Between 1996 and the 2006 Census the number of apartment dwellers in the Auckland CBD more than quadrupled from 2,805 to 13,311. This accounted for more than 70 percent of growth in apartment dwellers nationwide.

Census information helps the council plan the services that CBD residents need such as infrastructure, transport, parks, and other community services. Having a clear profile of CBD residents allows the council to make informed decisions to achieve the best outcomes for the people and businesses located there.

2006 Census data was used to help bring additional broadband services to the Auckland CBD. The data was used to profile the area, focusing on topics such as occupation and household income. This led to new and better targeted investment from telecommunication companies, and resulted in additional fibre-rich services and greater broadband affordability for Auckland’s CBD residents and visitors.

Addressing potential skill shortages in Manukau

A shortage of skills can be damaging to the growth of any community. The Manukau City Council knows that it needs to address some current skill shortages within their region and plans to ensure potential shortages do not eventuate.

The council used 2006 Census information, including data on employment, occupation, industry, and age structure, to update their career guide "Planning Your Future: A Guide to Career Opportunities in the Auckland Region". The guide looks at current industry and occupation numbers in the Auckland region, and projects what they might be in 2011 and beyond. These projections help identify what skills will be in large demand, and they also show what skills will be in short supply in the future, unless steps are taken to prevent this.

Education providers, such as the Manukau Institute of Technology, have used the career guide to request funding for the provision or strengthening of relevant courses, or as justification for dropping others.

Students can use the career guide to see what skills are projected to be in demand in the future and, from this, which courses are good vocational choices. While 2006 Census information reveals that 33,465 people in the region have business and management post-school qualifications, the guide indicates that demand for people with management skills will increase by 16,300 over the 2006–2011 period.

Addressing potential skill shortages also benefits businesses in the area, as they will be able to find new employees locally who have the skill-sets they need. 

Auckland libraries service the world

New Zealand is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures. Recent census figures confirm what the Auckland City Council already knew – that its region is becoming increasingly diverse. In Auckland City, 40 percent of people were born overseas, compared with 23 percent for New Zealand as a whole.

Local libraries have the ongoing challenge of providing services to a diverse population, with many residents who speak languages other than English. For example, 67 percent of people in Auckland City speak only one language, compared with 81 percent for all of New Zealand. Samoan is Auckland City’s second most widely spoken language behind English; nationally, Māori is New Zealand’s second most widely spoken language.

Armed with information about ethnicity, languages spoken and age group information, local libraries are better prepared to help meet the needs of the changing community. Onehunga library, for instance, has broadened its Chinese and Māori collections to better suit the local community.

The library also hosts Job Search Support, where the Migrant Action Trust assists migrants seeking employment to use the free Internet access and resources provided by the library.

On top of this, the self-check units customers use to take out books are now programmed with English, Māori, and two other languages spoken locally. Auckland City's libraries aim to enable people from all ethnic backgrounds, including those with English as a second language, to enjoy a well-resourced and responsive library service.

Evacuation planning in Auckland

New Zealand lies on a major fault-line and residents live with the risk of major natural disasters. Based on a variety of civil defence scenarios, the Auckland City Council is planning for a worst-case disaster in order to lessen the effects of such an event, should it occur.

Between 2007 and 2008 the Auckland City Council carried out a civil defence exercise called Exercise Ruaumoko, which centred on a potential volcanic eruption within the Manukau Harbour. The planning and intelligence sector within the Civil Defence Team was required to provide various demographic statistics for areas within the impact zone. These statistics helped to inform the evacuation strategy and identify the resources needed to evacuate all residents.

Data from the 2006 Census informed the Civil Defence Team about employed population counts in the area, which gave them an indication of weekday evacuation numbers. Age structure information combined with usual residence counts provided the locations of different age groups throughout the region. Rodney district, for instance, has the highest proportion of people aged 65 years and over in the Auckland region – 14.9 percent compared with 8.3 percent in Manukau City. This is important to know, as older residents tend to require more assistance in an emergency. The census also provides information on people’s access to telecommunication systems for evacuation warnings, and access to motor vehicles for ability to self-evacuate.

It is hoped that Aucklanders will not have to deal with a significant natural disaster, but if they do, they can be assured that the council and Civil Defence are well-informed and prepared for such an event. 



Franklin encourages cycling to work and play

Franklin shares many of the same traffic congestion issues as their neighbours in Auckland. One way the Franklin District Council is trying to improve the situation is by encouraging locals to use foot or pedal power for short journeys.

Information from the 2006 Census showed that 51 percent of Franklin district workers drove a private motor vehicle to work on census day, compared with only 0.4 percent who travelled by bicycle. This is less than one-quarter of the national average. The council saw plenty of scope for increasing the number of residents that could cycle to work or on other short journeys.

In early 2008, the council hired a road safety travel planner to visit schools in the area. The hope is to encourage children and their parents to walk to school, ride a bike, or take the bus. By 2009, the district will have a new network of bicycle lanes and footpaths placed along popular routes. The community will benefit from reduced traffic congestion as well as improved health and well-being. 

Hauraki ageing gracefully

New Zealand's population is ageing and all over the country, programmes are emerging to meet the needs of ageing New Zealanders.

The Hauraki District Council suspected that their population of over 65-year-olds was growing. The council looked at census information to determine where numbers were increasing and how rapidly these were rising. Especially useful were the time series comparisons provided by the five-yearly census. They could compare Hauraki today with Hauraki 10 or 20 years ago, and make plans for 20 years from now.

From 1996 to 2006, the number of residents 65 years and over in Hauraki has been steadily increasing. This is especially true in Waihi, Paeroa and Ngatea, where people in this age group make up 21.8, 21.6 and 23.2 percent of the population, respectively. These proportions are significantly higher than the national average of 12.3 percent.

The older residents of Hauraki are keen attendees at their local libraries, and use them as places to socialise. Now, the Waihi, Paeroa and Ngatea libraries will have increased age-specific information, an improvement in services, and targeted book selection. The community is also looking forward to enjoying more reading spaces, improved access for mobility scooters and more seating in the Waihi and Paeroa libraries.

Predicting road usage in Pukekohe

Auckland City’s traffic problems are well known. At peak times, its road networks can easily become overwhelmed by the volume of traffic.

The Franklin District Council is planning ahead by updating the Pukekohe transportation model. The model is used to predict where improvements to road networks can be made.

Through 2006 Census information, the council found that 23 percent of Franklin households have access to three or more cars, compared with a national average of 16 percent. Looking at these figures and at population projections, the council saw that the future capacity of the district’s roads would need to be increased.

Information from the census identified the need for intersection improvements, including new traffic signals along Manukau Road. Projections also showed the need for an eastern arterial road, which has been included in the council's long-term community plan for 2009 and beyond.

By updating the Pukekohe transportation model, anyone using the roads within Pukekohe will benefit from a well-planned network in the future, with potentially freer-flowing traffic, reduced congestion and travel times. All this means increased safety for travellers in the area.

Thames-Coromandel plans for peak periods 

Warm weather and pristine beaches make the Coromandel Peninsula an attractive Christmas holiday spot for thousands of New Zealanders.

Each summer, the population in the Thames-Coromandel District peaks, particularly in major holiday destinations such as Whangamata, Pauanui, Whitianga and Matarangi. The Thames-Coromandel District Council needs to assess the impact this population influx has on local services including water supply, sewerage treatment, roads and parks.

Information from the 2006 Census was a starting point to determine the number of dwellings in the district and its major holiday destinations. This was combined with data on the number of building consents, and a door-to-door survey during the busy summer period to help estimate a peak population. This research showed that 137,700 people crowded the peninsula's beaches, towns and campgrounds on New Year’s Eve in 2007. This was over five times the usually resident population of about 26,000.

All residents and holiday goers to the district will benefit from the council’s effective planning for peak periods. For instance, knowledge of the peak population numbers helped determine the required capacity of wastewater treatment plants being built along the eastern seaboard in Whangamata, Tairua/Pauanui and Whitianga. 

Trades training in South Waikato 

South Waikato is dominated by small, rural towns whose residents work primarily in the dairy industry. In recent years it has become evident that there was a lack of skilled tradespeople in the district.

The South Waikato District Council reviewed 2006 Census information on occupation, industry, and highest post-school qualification, combined with local information about educational courses available and job vacancies.

At the time of the 2006 Census, 7.2 percent of people aged 15 years and over in the district had a level 5 or 6 diploma, compared with a national average of 9.5 percent.

Information gathered by the council revealed that although there was a good supply of professionals, there was a shortage of people with trade qualifications or employed in trade occupations. The council determined that local educational institutions needed to offer courses to meet the gaps in the local employment market.

The Tokoroa campus of the Waiariki Institute of Technology introduced extra trade courses including engineering, carpentry, and fitting and turning, with the potential to add dairy industry related programmes later. The feedback from students has been excellent, with high retention rates for the courses.

Students in the South Waikato have benefited from a wider variety of courses at their local campus, and the region hopes to benefit long term through an increase in skilled tradespeople. 


Bay of Plenty

Business growth in Rotorua

Rotorua has many of the aspects tourists love about New Zealand: hot pools, geysers, adrenaline sports, and opportunities to partake in Māori culture. The thriving tourism industry in Rotorua is supported by the Rotorua District Council, which is always keen to attract more businesses to the area.

The council uses a range of census information (including home ownership, and household access to cell phones, Internet, and motor vehicles) to give businesses a better understanding of the community. Several businesses from the growing service sector – such as hostels, cafés and restaurants – have opened after working with the council and reviewing this information.

For example, potential restaurant owners reviewing 2006 Census information would know that there were 312 chefs in the Rotorua district. Of the full-time chefs, around half were earning over $30,000 annually. Census data also showed that 654 people had a post-school qualification in the field of food and hospitality. This informs potential restaurant owners about the running costs involved in the business and the availability of qualified staff.

The valuable census information the council provides helps to encourage the right businesses to invest in the region. The tourism industry and its supporting businesses are vital to Rotorua’s economic well-being. Increased tourist numbers translates into a more vibrant economy and further employment opportunities for the community.

The state of Rotorua’s environment

Population is one factor that influences the management of New Zealand’s environment. Councils need to understand how population changes in their regions affect their local environment.

The Rotorua District Council used information from the past three censuses to evaluate how the district’s population was changing over time. They found that in the five-year period from 1996, Rotorua’s population fell very slightly, but then grew by 2.2 percent between 2001 and 2006 to almost 66,000 usual residents. The council then determined how this increase would affect Rotorua’s natural environment. The result is the publication of the district's State of the Environment Report 2007, which identifies environmental areas for improvement for the next reporting period.

This report is used as a reference when making decisions for the region. For example, council engineers consulted the report to determine future water needs for areas within the district. They compared this with expected water supply and were pleased to see that current supply is keeping pace with increasing population demands. The report was also used in reviewing the district plan, which is a key planning document for the council, and a valuable resource for local community groups and schools.


Hawke's Bay

Planning water supply in Hastings

Fresh drinking water is essential for any community. Councils around the country are always looking at ways to future proof their districts, and water supply is integral to these plans.

Using 2006 Census data at the area unit level, the Hastings District Council was able to identify areas of population growth. For example, Te Mata has grown 73 percent since 2001. Population projections also help the council to see where growth is likely to continue. Growing areas would need additional capacity in their water supply over the next five years, and beyond.

Also within the district are small areas that do not have sufficient access to a clean water supply, which is a public health concern. For these areas, deprivation was measured using a range of 2006 Census information including income, home ownership, highest qualification and access to telecommunications. This measure was then used to support funding applications to central government. For instance, Waipuka has applied for assistance through the Ministry of Health’s Technical and Capital Assistance Programmes. Local marae in Pakipaki and Omahu are doing the same. The higher the deprivation index the more likely assistance will be given and at a greater rate.

Growing areas are now benefiting from consistent water supplies through accurate planning, and the district as a whole is enjoying the reduced likelihood of water shortages. Outlying areas with people of relatively low incomes are also looking forward to equitable access to clean water.



Commuting from the countryside

The Pohangina Valley, north of Palmerston North in the Manawatu, is an area of great natural beauty and biodiversity. The valley is handy to Palmerston North: it is surrounded by farm and wetlands, with a population of just over 1,000.

While the total population of Pohangina has remained relatively steady over the last 20 years, changes in employment patterns have contributed to an increase in the number of workers who make the daily commute out of the valley. At the time of the 1996 Census, 207 people or 42 percent of employed Pohangina residents, worked outside the valley. In 2006, the number had increased to 291 people (or 54 percent). This increase means more people use the access roads, which lead to wear and tear, and higher maintenance costs.

The Pohangina community used trends from the census to support the council's application for road improvement. As a result, the main road leading into Pohangina Valley was upgraded in early 2007. Locals and visitors now benefit from smoother and safer access to and from the valley. 

Move to the Country campaign

The Rangitikei district in the central North Island has been experiencing a population decline over the past few decades. This has led to a reduction in services for locals and a decrease in potential business opportunities.

Every summer though, thousands of visitors flock to the area for the beautiful river valley views, camping, white-water rafting, and adrenaline sports. The Rangitikei District Council wants to encourage some of these tourists to stay and live in the area.

Figures from the 2006 Census showed that 46 percent of local residents were living elsewhere in New Zealand five years earlier. This indicated a large transient population, especially those of employment age. So, the council is also looking at ways to encourage working-age people with families to move to the area.

The council has created a promotional website,, to showcase the district. Travellers on State Highway One between Bulls and Taihape will see roadside billboards promoting the Rangitikei lifestyle to Kiwis. Reversing the population decline will increase the likelihood of more funding for local schools, and improve employment rates and business opportunities.



Getting to know Porirua

Porirua City lies to the north of the capital and has a 2006 Census usual resident count of 48,546 people. Many of the residents are unaware of the growing and changing nature of their city and the people who live in it.

The Porirua City Council is filling this information gap by publishing a statistical 'snapshot' of the city and its residents. For instance, Porirua has a relatively young population, with a median age of less than 33 years compared with the national average of almost 36 years. After English, Samoan is the second most common language, spoken by 11.0 percent of Porirua residents. For New Zealand as a whole, Māori is the second most common language, at 4.1 percent.

The council has completed this statistical snapshot using 1996–2006 Census information. The snapshot is freely available to community groups, local businesses, and local and central government to help inform their planning and decision making. Hard copies are also available at council libraries for the public, with the aim of educating people on the changing environment of Porirua, and the usefulness of statistics when planning for the future.

Regional plans for a healthy future

Wellington is fortunate to have numerous regional parks and forests that are used for a wide variety of activities. The Greater Wellington Regional Council is always keen to ensure these parks meet the changing needs of local residents and visitors to the region.

The council is using information from the 2006 Census to plan for its long-term regional parks recreation study. Current and historical population trends in the region help to project population changes, and to address the potential future use and preferences of regional parks.

The council hopes that by tailoring the design of regional parks in the region, they will be even more widely used by the community. Information from the 2006 Census revealed that Churton Park has the highest number of children under the age of five in Wellington City, at just over 500. By knowing where there are large proportions of young families, the regional council may encourage them to use its parks and forests by developing suitable tracks, improving links with local council parks, and improving facilities. This is aimed to improve residents’ fitness and quality of life.

Travel in the Wellington region

Wellington occupies a small area of flat land, with most of the suburbs on hillsides or tucked into valleys leading into the city. This creates a funnelling effect, and many of the main road networks can become clogged, especially at rush hour.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council is responsible for developing transport strategies that assist economic and regional development; protect public health, safety and personal security; improve access and mobility; and ensure environmental sustainability. One focus is on ways to encourage walking, cycling, and passenger transport use.

The council has been reviewing 2006 Census information about the Wellington region, including household access to cars, where people live and where they work, and how they travel to work. Eleven percent of households have access to three or more cars, which is less than the national average. However, trends suggest that this proportion is rising.

The council has been using this information to update its regional transport model, which is currently being used on the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor study.

With good quality information and tools informing strategy development, residents and visitors to the Wellington region can enjoy a cleaner, greener, safer, and more efficient transport network in the future.

Water resources for a thirsty Wellington

Wellington region ranks third in population size out of New Zealand’s 16 regions. Surrounded by hills and rivers, it has a good natural supply of water from rivers and aquifers.

The Greater Wellington Regional Council monitors the use of water sources carefully to ensure a reliable supply in the future. Information from the 2006 Census showed that Wellington’s population grew by 6 percent (or 25,000 people) since 2001. Information about resident population trends are important to the council, so that it can determine when it needs to expand the region's water network.

The council is planning a water supply strategy using 2006 Census population information together with population projections. The strategy will investigate new water supplies, such as the Hutt River, the Lower Hutt aquifer, and the Wainuiomata River. The four cities of the Wellington region will benefit from this planning, with the likelihood of a water shortage being kept to a low level.



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