The impacts of climate change have been highlighted in stark detail this week. They are real, local and confronting.
As residents of New Zealand's biggest city, no matter where in it we live, we have a collective and urgent responsibility not to shirk the challenge of forging its sustainable future.
There is so much that we can all do differently. But in seeking practicable solutions, we need to be sure that we are addressing the problem, not causing new ones through rushed decision-making.
When searching for ways to contribute, there are any number of global initiatives to be inspired by: from Oslo's move towards zero emissions construction to Melbourne's urban forest strategy.
Nevertheless, as someone who has had the privilege of calling Auckland home for most of my life, I also think it's important that from a city perspective we view sustainability through a wider lens and consider what sort of Auckland we want to bequeath to future generations.
Good decisions on matters of such importance are seldom made on the fly, or without thorough engagement. This brings me to the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD).
Through the NPS-UD, we've been abruptly presented with a false choice in pursuit of a sustainable future: heritage or density around the city centre.
In fact, I'm being generous to label it a choice, given the speed with which the Government, eager to be seen to be addressing our housing crisis, is seeking to rush through legislative change.
The crushing irony here is that while there's an urgency to increase our housing stock, the speed with which the legislation is being rushed through is unnecessary, given we have a pipeline of 900,000 new homes for development through the Unitary Plan that already far exceed medium-term demand.
The issue is not one of policy, it's one of product or immediate lack thereof. Signalling intent may look good politically now, but at what future cost?
Auckland holds the world's largest remaining stock of timber Victorian and Edwardian houses – most of which can, understandably, be found in the early settler suburbs closest to the city centre.
I write as a resident of one of these suburbs, St Mary's Bay, where the first house dates back to 1836 and where the streets are characterised by workers' cottages and turn-of-the-century villas.
I'm a proud local resident. But moreover, I'm a proud Aucklander – and the history preserved in the architecture of its heritage suburbs is so important to Auckland as a whole.
For decades, council planners have gone to great lengths to ensure changes to bring these homes up to modern living standards have not compromised the unique character of the local streets.
However, under the proposed terms of the NPS-UD, Auckland Council will now be forced to relinquish its ability to protect the heritage of our city – allowing the unique character of our suburbs to be eroded over time.
Within this there is a second, equally crushing irony in that heritage protection can still be afforded to pockets on the discretionary basis that 75 per cent of the homes have a nominal heritage rating of a 5 or 6.
By discreetly bringing these homes up to modern living standards under the approval of heritage architects, and preserving the character that gives Auckland its soul, homeowners have now been told that the heritage homes they have gone to such lengths to protect can only be graded a 4 and can therefore now, at a whim, be consigned to landfill.
World-class cities manage to absorb growth while maintaining their character.
Done well, modern development can complement heritage – we only have to look at our own Britomart to see this – but then the city centre also bears the visible high-rise scars of a far laxer approach to planning.
In challenging the NPS-UD, communities like St Mary's Bay are not saying no to growth or change in their neighbourhoods if they have the infrastructure to support it.
They're simply asking for a natural level of rigour to be applied to ensure it can be absorbed in a way that preserves the city's heritage for future generations.
If we go back to the problem we're seeking to solve, it's to create sustainable housing solutions that enable future generations to enjoy living in our biggest city.
There is no silver bullet for this, but the considerable investment we're making to improve transport infrastructure presents us with an opportunity to embrace the future without erasing our past.
The choice is not between heritage and density. It's between good planning and bad.
Without our voice, council will be powerless to prevent Wellington bureaucrats robbing Auckland of the soul it wants to protect.
To speak up, make an online submission at: akhaveyoursay.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/housing
• Trevor Purkis is a retired resident of St Marys Bay.