There are five reasons next year will be Auckland's biggest yet.
A massive international events calendar
Kicking off just a year from this week, in late January 2021 with the Prada Cup, Auckland will play host to the 36th America's Cup; Te Matatini, the biggest Māori cultural festival in our history; APEC Leaders' Week; the Men's Softball World Championships; the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup; and Rugby World Cup 2021. The year will be capped off in December 2021 with the round-the-world Ocean Race stopover.
• Moves under way to stop high rise developments in wealthy Auckland suburbs
• Prime spot in first stage of South Auckland development
• Construction begins to extend Auckland waterfront boundary for $35 million 'showpiece' public space
• The first of 7000 new homes planned for north-west Auckland go on sale
These events will bring tens of thousands of visitors from around New Zealand and the world, providing opportunities to showcase Auckland on the global stage, celebrate what makes our city great and share our stories with the world.
The economic and social benefits will be wide ranging: more jobs for Aucklanders, enhanced public spaces, increased opportunities in tourism, retail, hospitality and manufacturing, and an infrastructure legacy that will benefit the city for many years.
A world-class waterfront
Years of planning and investment by Auckland Council, government and the private sector has gone into preparing our city centre and waterfront, and projects due for completion ahead of 2021 are set to be delivered on time and on budget.
Importantly, while the America's Cup sets the deadline for completion of many projects underway on Auckland's waterfront, the infrastructure that is being delivered will create a lasting legacy.
Preparation for the Cup has meant the removal of the hazardous substance tanks in the south of the Point, creating more public spaces, improving water quality in the basin, new berths, and the construction of breakwaters around Hobson, Halsey and Wynyard wharves and the Wynyard Basin. The area has been designed with the future in mind, and will become a watersports and waterfront destination that Aucklanders and visitors will enjoy for many years after the completion of the America's Cup.
New, people-friendly, public spaces
Construction of new public spaces in our city centre and waterfront is already well underway, with several due to open in 2020.
Highlights include the Daldy St Linear Park, which will create a green connection between Victoria Park and Silo Park, with new footpaths, trees, play spaces and rain gardens.
Urunga Plaza off Halsey St will be an entirely new open public space with art, green spaces, pōhutukawa planting and street furniture, and a design that pays homage to the area's proud marine heritage. It will link to a new promenade in front of the Park Hyatt, completing the walking circuit around the viaduct.
Silo Park will be expanded into the land formerly occupied by the silos at the Bulk Storage Terminal, with the extra public space open in time for the America's Cup. This will include trees, furniture, play spaces and extended event spaces. In the longer term, this project will catalyse the rejuvenation of Wynyard Point, which will feature a new headland park, the extension of the Daldy St Linear Park and a maritime precinct, creating a focal point for people to enjoy world-class views, shopping, eating and entertainment.
The new waterfront park next to the ferry building will become an iconic and much-used public open space, and the Quay St enhancement project — now well underway — will improve the connection between the city centre and the waterfront.
While Auckland's waterfront is the focus of much of the public space enhancement, other projects due for completion before 2021 include the Victoria St cycleway, the Karangahape Rd upgrade and the Galway St upgrade.
Exciting cultural festivals
The line-up of major international events coming to Auckland in 2021 will be complemented by the cultural festivals that make Auckland one of the world's most diverse and inclusive cities.
In addition to Te Matatini, annual events such as Diwali, the Lantern Festival and Chinese New Year celebrations, PolyFest and the Pasifika Festival celebrate the immense contribution of our vibrant communities and draw tens of thousands of attendees to enjoy food, music and entertainment.
Major commercial developments
The billions of dollars of local and central government investment in Auckland's downtown leverages an unprecedented $10 billion investment from the private sector. Projects like the Commercial Bay development, with its PwC Tower, are already reshaping our skyline, and the Pacifica apartment building, when complete, will be the tallest residential tower in the country. The opening of around 1000 new hotel rooms over the next year will boost employment and income from the tourism industry.
Ten years from now, we will point to 2021 as the year Tāmaki Makaurau established its place in the world. I'm excited by the opportunities the year holds, and I look forward to celebrating with Aucklanders everything that makes our city one of the most vibrant, innovative and inclusive in the world.
2021 is the year of us — it's the Year of Auckland.
• Phil Goff is the Mayor of Auckland.