Columnist Garth George has announced he is leaving Auckland saying "the quality of life in this city has deteriorated markedly in the past 20 years or so, and ever more quickly since the dawn of the 21st century."
This forum debate has now closed. Here is a selection of your views on the topic.
Having lived overseas in some large cities, Auckland is a great place to live and bring up kids and is New Zealand's only true city with a great balance of night life, beaches, beautiful harbour for boating and now a decent indoor venue for big concerts (Vector Arena). Wellington...maybe, it's a nice place and has some great features, but it's so cold and windy and full of politicians so...no thanks. Chch.where I grew up...no thanks also, it's just a big overgrown country town full of ignorant one eyed Cantabrians (I can say this as I used to be one!). So apart from these 3 "cities' there isn't much left to make comparisons and there's no point making an apples and oranges comparison between Auckland and small town life. Everyone loves having a crack at Auckland.....in my experience a lot of it just comes from envy.
I suggest if Garth George doesn't like living in the only city in the world where citizens can enjoy almost any activity that their hearts desire within the greater city boundaries, then I suggest Garth George does move somewhere else to live, preferably well away from Auckland ( politely I say that ) and leave Auckland to those of use that appreciate the city for what it can offer us.
My only gripe about Auckland would be the ARC - the organisation that stopped the Waterfront Stadium from going ahead - the best example of a wasted opportunity I have ever seen in my lifetime.
How nice of Mr George to do his part to make Auckland a nicer place to live, by moving out.
George's comment's resonate with how this 32 year old is feeling currently to a point now where I'm pondering why continue in Auckland.
When I was younger I thought nothing of community spirit and looking back to the late seventies and eighties I know that's the biggest feeling I now miss.
Small townships with great spirit are places that I try to visualise if I could live in and more importantly if they would embrace life with me.
In response to the comment by Phil Wallington:
I was most disappointed to read your comments on "all" Aucklanders — as I am one myself, I can only take it personally. As a matter of fact, I have never considered myself money-oriented, and have lived elsewhere in the world in the past to further my quality of life in other respects. I always return to Auckland to be near family, but I have recently considered relocating again to somewhere quieter and less populous within New Zealand. I'm not sure which particular "unspoilt" region is home to your bigoted ilk, Mr Wallington, but I'll take care to ensure that I don't wind up anywhere near it.
I came to Auckland to study and cannot wait to leave. The simple attraction was the best commerce school in the country, but the cost of living here is far too high and I look forward to the day when I have the security to be able to leave.
The cost of living in Auckland is so high that in other major centre what I pay in rent alone in Auckland would cover all of my living, and that is no joke. As for the people, Auckland is a cold emotionless place, after five years I am still stunned by the people and they really need to stop looking at their own shoes and being so selfish.
Finally on the politics, pick a direction for heavens sake, nothing happens in this city and the people think it's wonderful that Dunedin, Wellington and Christchurch are all developing faster than this shambles of a place.
The solution is beyond me, its so complex with massive culture problems and murders in south Auckland, and a cost of living amongst the highest in the world when wages are amongst the lowest. If anyone has an intelligent answer they have my vote!
Wait a minute. Isn't this the same Garth George who wants to carry on his carbon munching, polluting lifestyle, no doubt adding to our smoggy air, clogged roads and huge landfills? Good riddance to him. Perhaps Auckland will be a cleaner, greener, place without him.
From the words of Al Stewart in On The Border, no one notices the changes from day to day. I left a small provincial town and moved to Auckland, when I returned the town had changed but those I left behind couldn't see it, I now live in Sydney and when last returned I could see massive deterioration in Auckland but those that are there can't see it. Auckland's biggest problem is it's lack of balls on it leaders, who would have believed the rubbish that was dished up to stagnate the inner city by turning down the new stadium. Now you civic leaders want to remove the colour and life by exposing the grey walls behind the colourful sign and billboards. I guess George will be buying all that cheap seaside land that the greenies think will be under seven metres of water by 2050. The question is not about has Auckland gotten worse but who does it cater for now, obviously not George but I am sure there a hundreds and thousands of happy Jaffa's who find it Ab Fab.
Garth George is correct. Auckland has changed. But it was always changing. Unfortunately the changes just get more complex. The Auckland particularly the CBD I remember of the 60's and 70's was drab, cold, always shut and dirty so I don't mourn for the Auckland of old. I choose to live in a lovely rural town not far south of Auckland but it too is changing. Unfortunately the likes of Mr George are rocking on down here, building in flash housing estates hiking our property values beyond belief, using our minimal social services and resources and really apart from increasing our rates not contributing much at all. Auckland is not at fault, New Zealanders are.... Not matter where we go we have to build houses on any spare land we can, we have to drive everywhere, we have to eat and spend excessively. Get real this is not an Auckland issue, it is how we are, spoilt, introverted and overly indulged as a nation.
Ryan, Johannesburg, South Africa
Garth, you say that your area resembles a third world slum?
I'm afraid you have no idea of what a third world slum looks like.
I agree with everything written, I am only in my mid forties and we are uprooting from Papakura, this town has become unsafe and so down trodden it is not safe to bring up our children/grandchildren. We no longer can go out walking, shopping is a mission and gangs roam freely.
Presumably Garth George is moving to a low lying coastal area in Northland or the Bay of Plenty. Unlike most of the residents in these areas he's probably not too worried about the impacts of climate change: sea level rise - or losing insurance due to increased storms.
Oh George, George, George....I'm going to miss having you around. You'll be sorely missed - your lemony outlook, your grumpy face and drooping shoulders. So long buddy.
I live and work in Auckland, mountain bike in woodhill forest, trout fish at Lake Otatoa (Hellensville), take my kids fishing off Cornwallis Pier, tramp through the Waitakere Ranges, eat out in Titirangi or Ponsonby, follow the blues, drive an hour and a half to wonderful Waihi Beach, enjoyed the Big Day Out, U2 and the Rolling Stones. Auckland's not perfect but if you look under its skin it has a lot going for it. Sounds like your Garth George belongs in a retirement village along with all the other negative fossils, Canterbury beckons Mr George!
I too have just left the big smoke for the gentle coastline of Northland.
While I do miss my friends, I enjoy the warmth and community spirit of a small town. People are interested and have the time to give a damn about what's going on in your world.
Family is important up here. The children at my daughter's school haven't spent their entire pre-school time at day-care. They are secure, free spirited individuals. Both my girls have told me that they are much much happier in the country and feel less pressured to be 'cool' - which in turn makes them way more cool than they were!
I had occasion to be in Auckland on Monday morning for a meeting and was shocked to witness the rush hour misery: Flocks of people, looking down at their shoes, clutching their expensive bags, avoiding each other's gaze and breathing in stinky air.
Compare this to morning rush-hour up north. People pottering about, waving from their cars, holding hands with children being dropped off at school and taking the time to have a quick walk on the beach before knuckling down to satisfy the current building boom.
Of course there are downsides: the supermarket is a minimum of 45 mins away (although I personally regard that as an advantage), the nearest cinema is 50 mins drive away and as I've said before I miss my friends.
But, with all the pressures of moving and still trying to sell the house in Auckland, I haven't looked back once.
Go the provinces!
I'm not sure if I live in the same Auckland as Garth George.
Auckland is a fabulous place to live, although, granted, it has problems like any large city. We have amazing parks, beautiful suburbs, great beaches, excellent cafes and bars and friendly people.
Maybe he will be moving to somewhere in the third world,to realise how good we actually have it.
It seems we are tired of insulting American's and have turned on our own. I am from Auckland and I am not rude or arrogant. In fact the only time I have ever encountered arrogance / rude behaviour, is when I have been on holiday visiting outside Auckland.
All the grumblers and the whiners and the haters should just get up and go if they hate it so much. I think that Auckland is one of the best cities in the world to live in. Unprecedented access to beaches, a wonderful climate, a vibrant atmosphere and so much more. Where else can match this? The more cities I visit on this planet, the more I love Auckland. I guess it's what you like. I love the melting pot of cultures, activities. I love the devotion to the almighty car. We have everything a city could want, and the freedom to enjoy it.
Whilst I can perhaps understand Garth's personal reasons for migrating to a place less urban, I find his sentiments about Auckland rather misguided. Auckland has undergone and continues to undergo significant changes to its social, economic and built landscape. Quite simply, the city is experiencing the growing pains of ongoing urban growth. As the nation's primary centre of commerce and residence, this is to be expected.
Urban growth of course brings with it increased population and residential density, traffic volumes and infrastructural requirements. Immigration compounds the matter of population growth, increases cultural diversity and, it could be argued, increases ethic segregation to some extent, due to the tendency of people to choose to live around others with similar culture, beliefs and language to themselves.
Whether these are in themselves bad things depends upon your perspective. Personally, I am of the view that despite its infrastructure, traffic and socioeconomic distribution issues (which are honestly not all THAT serious), Auckland is still a great place to live. Those who have traveled to or lived in major global cities will be well aware that Auckland's (City) population density is still relatively low on a world scale and that traffic can in fact be much, much worse. Auckland is also frequently ranked as a leader for quality of lifestyle in international civic surveys (currently 5= worldwide, Mercer Consulting), largely as a result of the Auckland region's fantastic natural assets.
Garth's comment on "spreading urban ghettos of ethnicity and religion" indicates an unfortunate intolerance to the increasing diversity of our city. Due to domestic out-migration from Auckland, foreign immigration is a primary driver of civic growth and should be regarded as a cultural and economic asset.
I wish Garth all the best in his escape to the provinces, but for the young, those in business and recent immigrants, Auckland is and will remain the place to be.
RickyJJ is right, grumpy man indeed! Auckland has a good side, such as the beach is only ten minutes away from anywhere in the greater Auckland area. You have beautiful scenic views, from Devonport to the shore to Takapuna, it's stunning on a summers day.
Also the cultural diversity and splendour makes this a place I love to live in. All big cities have their problems and I'd rather live here than the polluted London, or even Sydney for that fact.
If Garth wants to move, so be it. The Auckland he's talking about in the 1970s in which everything closed in the weekend and the most cultural thing you got was gumboots sounds boring!
Who's Garth? Rather, who cares?
Garth is quite right. I saw that also and left Auckland for Christchurch in 2003, love it down here.
I pity whatever unfortunate region becomes host to Garth George and his dreary nonsense about bygone eras. Auckland is in a state of change and development. Some things are better and others worse. Other parts of NZ are great, too. It's the pace of life and job and cultural opportunities that keeps most people here. Cost of living is what sends many others out. I, personally, love the multi-cultural nature of this city. Others are not so open-minded. What a shame other parts of NZ seem to be gaining those, like George, who take their views with them.
It's no coincidence that Mr George's photo shows a grumpy man. If you don't like somewhere then don't live there Garth. It's simple. So why do you feel the need to bitch about it to everyone else? I live in Auckland because I like living here, and I'd encourage everyone who doesn't to follow Mr George's lead quick snap. You can all go read his whiny column in some other newspaper.
So, perhaps unwisely, I have sought to find once again a place to live that more closely matches that from which I came...a town of irrelevant grumpy old men with no one under 70, and 5 pubs perhaps? Hopefully this Nirvana will have no postal service or electronic connection to the outside world, and NZ Herald readers will finally be shot of horse and buggy stories, and wistful yarns of life pre WW2.
He's right. Population growth has changed the place from what it was and if you yearn for that you need to move.
You are so right George but instead of leaving, why not do something about it... the pen is mightier.
Of course Garth is right. I left Auckland last year for the bustling metropolis that is Wellington.Whilst the weather certainly isn't the best, the fact that Wellington has a heart and soul, and a thriving CBD means the weather is forgotten. From Wellington, it's a skip to the South Island, but why go there? The wonderful green belt provides awesome views to the Kaikoura Ranges on a clear day (of which there are a few). The howling southerlies dry out your washing in record time. People understand the value of "self worth" rather than "net worth" Since moving to Wellington, I have seen my bank balance grow, my stress levels decline, my weight gain to a normal level, and cleaner lungs (see southerlies) I would never move back to Auckland. The succession of differing mayors, each with different views has meant that nothing has been done to improve Aucklands infrastructure since the time of Christine Fletcher and Britomart. In comparison, Wellington has an electricv rail net work, granted it's 50 years old, and in need of an overhaul, but its electric! Bus services run everywhere you need them to. Rents are cheaper, the quality of life is better. All the entertainment is located centrally, rather than all over town as it is in Auckland. It takes no more than 15 minutes to get out of Wellington proper as opposed to the 90 minutes before you get past Hamilton. One of the bad things about Wellington - the lack of beaches.I disliked Auckland before I even moved here. Now I wonder why I waited so long to make the move.
In "The Age of Reason" it was axiomatic that "man was the measure of all things". In Auckland money is the measure of all things... It is a city of money-grubbers. Crass vulgarity, spectacular consumption and solipsism define far too many its citizens. In Auckland public spirit is like public transport -- almost non-existent. Sadly too many Aucklanders are leaving this cess-pit and bringing their values into other, until now, unspoiled regions of New Zealand.