Children as young as 9 are already concerned about whether they'll be able to afford a house.
That's one of the conclusions London-based artist, curator and writer Andy Field has drawn after working with school pupils in central Auckland and the United Kingdom on Lookout, a project where they're asked to share with adults how their cities may look like in 30, 60 and 100 years.
"There are definite similarities between what the kids in Auckland and in the UK think - certain cinematic tropes that they understand like robots, jetpacks and flying cars - but we dig deeper and ask them to think about things like work, food production, systems of government," Field says.
"In the UK, kids were more focused on technology and an urban landscape dominated by futuristic tower buildings; here the kids seem more attuned to nature and are more interested in the future of farming and things like getting rid of roads which will then be covered by grass."
But he says children on both sides of the world talk a lot about climate change and homelessness. They're already thinking about how they might afford a home and what can be done to make cities more affordable.
"It's the same sorts of questions a lot of us adults are trying to answer."
Along with Q Theatre and the Auckland Fringe Festival, Field is working with 9 and 10 year olds at Newton Central School to make Lookout. It's described as a chance to engage with a stranger from the younger generation and share their vision, dreams and ideas for the future.
Newton Central pupils reckon in 100 years, Auckland could be a floating city inhabited mainly by vegetarians and cat-lovers where those who commit animal cruelty are burnt at the stake. There may be wishing trees and portals which lead to clouds, under the sea or even to the past or future. Work will focus on technology and organic farming and there won't be any traffic.
It is the first-time Field has worked outside of the UK but the format is the same.
Children describe how they think their city will change during the next century. They are then taken somewhere elevated - in this case the upper floor of the former Civic Administration Building at the edge of Aotea Square - and adults asked to come along to hear what the kids say.
Presentations start with each participant listening, on a portable speaker, to a child's voice describing the future of the city. A child then leads a one-on-one tour where, looking over a city, they share their ideas and ask the grown-up they're accompanying what they think.
The adults may not be known to the children but the presentations are policed by watchful teachers who supervise the young tour guides. Children also have a signal to use if they don't like the direction a conversation is heading in.
Q chief executive James Wilson saw a version of Lookout at last year's Brighton Festival and was so impressed, he invited Field to Auckland. He approached Newton Central because he has a colleague with a child there and saw that the school is surrounded by growth and development. The room children rehearse in looks out across Newton Gully to offices, light industrial businesses and motorway.
"If ever there's a school witnessing urban growth, it's Newton Central," says Wilson, adding that adults who make decisions about the future of a city rarely consult directly with children even though they'll be most affected by those choices.
"It's a chance to hear what kids think and, believe me, they are very much aware of what's going on around them."
Field created Lookout as a one-off for a Glasgow arts festival but got funding to repeat it with youngsters in Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester. He never imagined it would take him all the way to New Zealand.
However, his next stop is possibly even more unexpected. He's going to Cairo to a school in Giza which looks out toward Egypt's famed pyramids.
"I can't wait to hear what they have to say and imagine it will be very different to what I've heard so far."
•Lookout is part of the Auckland Fringe Festival and starts at Q Theatre on Wednesday, with presentations through to Friday. It is first in a series of projects Q will undertake this year to explore the changing nature of our city.