Covid-19 put paid to an extraordinary influx of international tourists, sports people, political leaders and their entourages who were due to come to Auckland in 2021 for the America's Cup, the Apec Leaders meeting and several major sporting tournaments.
But, as the Herald's 2021 Project Auckland report showcases, the pandemic did not deter the city's developers — including Auckland Council — pushing ahead with the major redevelopment of the Downtown CBD and various "place-making" projects getting under way in the suburbs as people rediscovered neighbourhoods as they worked from home.
Despite multiple lockdowns there has been extraordinary resilience. Although businesses are still experiencing difficulties getting their own essential workers and key staff across the border.
This latest level 3 lockdown has sapped confidence among smaller businesses particularly in the hospitality sector. But others are more agile. This includes Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the foreign affairs establishment, which will hold the Apec Leaders meeting virtually in November.
Major players like Joe Biden, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin will not be coming to town. But it remains possible Scott Morrison may come over from Canberra if a transtasman bubble is established by then.
That "can do" attitude emboldened the Government to swing and keep support behind Emirates Team New Zealand and the necessary infrastructure to host the America's Cup.
When it comes to the America's Cup it is Finance Minister Grant Robertson who holds the Government's purse strings on the allocation of direct taxpayer funding.
Wearing his infrastructure hat, Robertson emphasises that the America's Cup has been the catalyst for development in downtown Auckland. But as Sports Minister he is really hoping to get out (maybe on the chase boat at the invitation of Emirates Team NZ chair Sir Stephen Tindall) and see some of the racing.
At the time Project Auckland went to print it was unclear when the America's Cup regatta, which was due to start on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf tomorrow, would resume after the city went into alert level 3 lockdown last Sunday.
But, says Robertson, the really important part of it for him is the building of the new projects which the 2021 event deadline has catalysed. Not only Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter, which house the teams and their infrastructure, but also the suite of projects which Auckland Council has spearheaded and brought forward to make Auckland's waterfront sparkle for residents and visitors alike.
"You know, there's the regatta and the races themselves and New Zealanders getting behind Team New Zealand and that's all terrific," he says. "But in many years' time when we look back, someone's going to wander around the Viaduct and say, 'Gee, how did this all develop?'
"And someone's going to say, 'Well, that was when we hosted the America's Cup'. And then down to the Wynyard Quarter — looking terrific, and someone will say, 'this is the result of the next time we had the America's Cup'.
"For me that's really significant."
Robertson points to a picture that Auckland councillor Richard Hills recently put up on social media contrasting Wynyard Quarter today to three years ago. "That's great."
So, while the Government is engaged in the America's Cup from a sporting aspect, the fact that it really represents a very strong economic development opportunity for Auckland and for New Zealand is important to Robertson.
"Obviously, this time around, we lost a little bit of that because we didn't have international visitors but actually the government focus this time was on the legacy building projects, and $115 million has gone in from central government to do that.
"That payoff comes over decades. For the people of Auckland and visitors to Auckland. And hopefully, for future yacht racers who come to Auckland and make use of those facilities."
For that other major showcase, Apec, the dividend is more in strengthening New Zealand's role as a good global citizen and increasing NZ's soft power.
But there are major issues the city still has to address. Particularly housing. Auckland is now the 4th most unaffordable city on the Demographia list.
Then there is the prospect of failing infrastructure in the future, with Auckland's harbour bridge facing problems accommodating increased traffic.
These are not insurmountable problems. Think of them as an opportunity to be bold and truly invest in Auckland's future.