One of the most challenging issues facing Tauranga, housing supply and affordability, will feature as a topic in a three-day planning conference that begins tomorrow [Wednesday] at ASB Arena.

More than 500 delegates are attending the New Zealand Planning Institute conference with the theme ''breaking new ground''.

''Planning for the long-term sustainable future of our cities and resources requires immediate attention,'' institute chairman Bryce Julyan said.

Rapid urbanisation, water quality, and the impact of natural hazards and climate change were among other issues to be tackled at the conference in Tauranga.


Julyan said the conference would look at new technologies and fresh approaches to planning.

"Economic growth does not come without its challenges, and the conference will focus on the pressures of growth and development on our natural environment," he said.

Julyan said water quality and access to water was fast becoming a major global issue. New Zealand faced the challenge of weighing up the need to protect the quality of its water while allowing for its use for economic, social and cultural reasons.

Delegates will also debate how to future-proof cities from the effects of urban growth, including better planning for the supply of housing, transport and other infrastructure.

Tomorrow's pre-conference hui will bring together delegates and speakers to discuss critical issues in Maori planning practice, focused mainly on projects and initiatives specific to the Bay of Plenty.

A conference highlight takes place on Friday when Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford and Economic Development Minister David Parker take part in a panel discussion to debate key planning issues.

Chaired by the conference MC and broadcaster Wallace Chapman, the forum will see the ministers take the floor with international keynote speaker Erin Barnes and New Zealand professor Paul Spoonley. Each speaker will tackle critical issues raised during the conference, followed by questions from the floor.

The institute has more than 2000 members involved in strategic planning and implementing urban and rural plans.

Conference keynote speakers
David Dixon, Boston: International expert in urban planning and design.
Erin Barnes, New York: Co-founder of an online crowdfunding platform focused on improving neighbourhoods.
Stuart Moseley, Melbourne: CEO of the Victorian Planning Authority.
Ian Proudfoot: Leading strategic thinker on agribusiness in New Zealand.
Jacinta Ruru: Co-director of New Zealand's Centre of Maori Research Excellence.
Richie Poulton: Listed in 2015 World's Most Influential Scientific Minds report.
Jamie Fitzgerald: The first Kiwi to reach the South Pole on foot with fellow adventurer Kevin Biggar.
Paul Spoonley: Pro Vice-Chancellor of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University.