The fastest-growing area in the country outside Auckland is the Greater Christchurch sub-region, representing Christchurch City and our neighbouring districts to the south and north, Selwyn and Waimakariri.
And we are growing at a very fast pace.
We look at Auckland and can see the challenges that come from not planning for growth before it happens. We have the chance to get ahead of the curve, or in this case, the trajectory, that will take us to over a million residents in the next few decades.
The three councils have been working collaboratively with the regional council since the mid-2000s, with an Urban Development Strategy (UDS) signed with the transport agency in 2007. The post-earthquake period brought Ngāi Tahu to the table, and since the Greater Christchurch Partnership was formed, that has included the District Health Board as well.
We have been actively pursuing an Urban Growth Partnership with central government for more than five years now and last week we signed the MOA that brings the Whakawhanake Kāinga Committee to life.
The purpose of bringing Ministers and Kāinga Ora to the table is that it creates the opportunity for us all to align decision-making processes, collaborate on the strategic direction, and improve coordination across housing, land use and infrastructure planning.
As you will know, Greater Christchurch is part of a wider cultural landscape that holds significant historic and contemporary cultural associations and importance for Ngāi Tahu whānui. That is why it is vital that mana whenua is at the table.
In making its apology in 1998, the Crown acknowledged that Ngāi Tahu holds rangatiratanga within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā – this extends to the individual Papatipu Rūnanga who are responsible for resources and protection of tribal interests within their respective takiwā and hold rangatiratanga of their taonga as well as lands, waters, habitats and species.
There are decisions that were made a long time before these obligations were given statutory effect that simply would not have been made today. It is these kinds of decisions that have contributed hugely to the degradation of our urban waterways and waterbodies.
Historically, there is also a reluctance by policy planners to acknowledge Kāinga Nohoanga as its own form of land use that is distinctive from the traditional land use categories of rural, residential, business and industrial. This has resulted in Kāinga Nohoanga being left out of urban development strategies or being identified as future development areas where infrastructure is directed towards.
Our partnership approach creates an opportunity to put right these historic wrongs.
Collectively we have committed to ensure a well-functioning and sustainable urban environment. Our immediate priorities are:
• Decarbonising the transport system,
• Increasing resilience to natural hazards and the effects of climate change
• Accelerating the provision of quality, affordable housing; and
• Improving access to employment, education and services.
With a population of over 500,000, Greater Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest urban area by population.
Greater Christchurch experienced strong population and business growth in the period post the 2010/11 earthquakes and has benefited from significant private and public sector investment over the last decade, particularly through the rebuild of the central city.
Greater Christchurch has a strong foundation to develop a sustainable and modern city that provides a place for people to have high levels of well-being and make a greater contribution to national wellbeing and prosperity.
It is the primary economic, service and logistics hub for the South Island – home to New Zealand's second-largest airport and third largest seaport, four tertiaries, six Crown Research Institutes, and a strong and diverse economic base that is strongly inter-connected with the wider regional economy.
Greater Christchurch currently has the most affordable housing of New Zealand's major urban centres, with a lifestyle that is highly valued by residents.
The significant investment in modern and resilient infrastructure, civic assets and urban redevelopment post-earthquakes means that Greater Christchurch has capacity to cater for greater economic and population growth.
However, as well as other challenges of a growing city, Greater Christchurch has one of the highest rates of dependency on private motor vehicles for transport of the major urban areas. This is unsustainable on every level – greenhouse gas emissions and a growing congestion problem that impacts on the city financially and environmentally.
In responding to these challenges, Greater Christchurch needs an urban form that reduces dependency on car travel, houses people more sustainably and affordably, uses land efficiently, realises the benefits of economic agglomeration, and continues to provide a high quality of life for its residents.
Spatial planning and mass rapid transit options are key to this and that's what we are working on now.
It is an exciting time for Greater Christchurch.