Waikato town planners are bracing for an overflow of Aucklanders from the Super City as it seeks to find living space for its booming population.
"I have to say we can stand a few more," Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson told the Herald when asked about his council's capacity to cope with up to 15,000 new homes which may not be able to be squeezed into Auckland's borders by 2040.
Aucklanders are already among new settlers of a rapidly expanding Pokeno at the southern base of the Bombay Hills, where sections are about $100,000 cheaper than on the city side.
His officials had earlier disclosed the potential population spillage figure to the Herald, saying that was an indication from Auckland Council planners having trouble deciding where 55,000 new homes should be placed around Pukekohe without sacrificing fertile soil needed for food production.
Pukekohe's allocation forms a crucial part of the 30-year Auckland Plan, which predicts 400,000 new homes will be needed to accommodate a million more people throughout the region, but the planners are finding themselves cramped by the Government's decision to set the Super City's boundary less than three kilometres south of the thriving market town.
Mr Sanson said that as a farmer, he was particularly appreciative of Auckland's efforts to identify "no-go" areas for development, as Waikato District planners would also be careful to do in deciding where to house any spillover.
"It's no good us gobbling up beautiful fields ploughed for vegetables, dairying or beef."
An Auckland Council spokesman said no cross-border decisions had been made, and it would be incorrect to state that the Waikato would accommodate such a high number of new homes, although the respective councils had been working on an integrated approach to planning and growth in the former Franklin District since last year.
But it is understood decisions are needed in time for a draft unitary plan for the Super City to be issued for public submissions next month, and Auckland Mayor Len Brown said the community of interest between residents of the carved-up district did not change because of a council boundary.
While Mr Sanson was meeting Mr Brown and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse this week about the population growing pains, other Waikato council representatives were urging an Auckland Transport hearings panel not to forget the looming southward drift when planning public transport services.
They spoke in support of extending a commuter rail service to Tuakau, and were particularly concerned that buses to that town and to Port Waikato had been left out of a draft 10-year plan, an omission which officials of the transport body said should be able to be rectified subject to suitable cost-sharing arrangements.
1.4 million people
1049 sq km (including 483 sq km urban)
Natural features: Two harbours; volcanic cones; beaches; coastal bush-clad regional parks; off-shore islands.
Advantages: More job opportunities, wider range of entertainment.
Disadvantages: Traffic congestion; air pollution; housing shortage; increasingly crowded urban living.
25,000 sq km
Natural features: Waikato River, beaches, Lake Taupo;
easy access to Mt Ruapehu.
Advantages: More farmland and wide open spaces; tighter-knit communities; less traffic.
Disadvantages: Main city of Hamilton land-locked; fewer job opportunities.