Picture this. Please suspend your disbelief for 5 minutes and come on a trip into the future of Auckland with me. Imagine for a few minutes that we are right here at the Pullman hotel, but the year is no longer 2017 it is 2030. This is a story of our future, all of our futures, told through the lens of current trends and data. This is the story of where we are heading if we keep doing what we are doing now, until 2030. This is Auckland in 2030. This is the Tale of Two cities
Back in 2017….and the infamous Charles Dickens quote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
It makes me think what if we had chosen another path…Most of you came here today in driverless cars and on the rapid transport light rail that was announced as an election sweetener late in 2017. Most of our key workers, teachers, nurses, administrators, policemen and women shared the train with you but they came in from further out on the lines from Helensville, Pokeno, Whangarei
We will still live in a naturally beautiful city – with enviable natural resources of harbours, beaches and bush. We got that part right and learned to look after it.
The population of Auckland is now over 2 million or about 40% of the NZ population.
The city has its new Convention Centre, many new high grade hotels, a modern skyline featuring new residential apartments and office towers. (6) We go about our business as kiwis as best we can, but there is something niggling us, gnawing away at us, something is deeply not quite right because we believe in fair play, and looking out for each other. As communities, and people, something is just not right.
Still we have plenty of great things to distract us from that, As the holders of the Americas cup we have continued to develop a world class urban environment reshaped with people oriented streetscapes, laneways, public squares, and parks. Were even gearing up to defend the Rugby World Cup men’s and women’s again next year right here in Auckland.
Mobile technology means we can do anything, anywhere with tiny devices, many of you are wearing google glasses and livestreaming this event to your network via LinkedinLive from all parts of the country.
Medical advancements, robotics and Artificial intelligence have meant the loss of many jobs, but have also created many other new opportunities. I have a bionic eye.
However, the one issue which has changed little is housing. The industry has become more fragmented and there remains no overall leadership on the issue of housing
The game playing and finger pointing between the local and central government has continued to the detriment of the city.
Oops there it is. That’s the thing that is bugging us all. It’s housing. It is the fact that in 2017 we realised we had broken the social contract we had with our people. We said to each other that if we worked hard, educated and looked after our children, paid our taxes and joined in to kiwi life we could expect a safe dry secure affordable house to live in. A place to call home.
We believed that was important in 2017. We knew it was important because we knew then that housing isn’t just about shelter from the wind and rain. Safe secure affordable housing is irrefutably directly related to better health and education outcomes, better justice outcomes, better economic outcomes and better communities.
Unfortunately despite our knowledge of why housing is important, in 2017 we did not decide to make changes or a plan to address the Auckland Housing Crisis. So this is where we have got to.
Since 2017 we continued to deliver the housing supply at the same rates so we will have gone from a shortage of 35,000 houses in 2017 to over 130,000 short today. Ghettos unlike anything we have ever seen in New Zealand have become embarrassingly common.. We can no longer say we are looking after those of us who are most in need. We are not.
Two Hamiltons’ worth of housing development needed to be crammed into Auckland by 2030 – said the CEO of Auckland Transport – David Warburton in 2017. But we didn’t listen.
Core Logic estimates the average Auckland house price is now nearly $3m– an astonishing 19 times the average household income. This affordability ratio has taken Auckland off the chart by international standards.
Home Ownership has continued to drop and now less than half of Aucklanders own their own home. We are seeing widespread evidence of the decay of communities that is associated with declining ownership rates.
Homelessness has escalated and the need for social housing and other support services increased dramatically. There are now 500,000 households in Auckland who cannot afford even the median rent. This is up from 120,000 in 2017.
The impact on communities has been huge. Communities have been decimated and the gap between the haves and the have nots has increased. On one side – we see more gated communities and the need for security, while others struggle. Auckland is becoming more like cities overseas we never wanted to be. People who came here to escape failing violent cities, are now leaving.
We have a shortage of key workers in Auckland – our teachers, our nurses, our police. We are even starting to see in Auckland what San Francisco experienced in 2015 where critical key workers lived in mobile RV’s outside their place of work. Watch your step on the way out the Princes Street exit here at the Hotel, there are some homeless people living in that doorway today.
Back to the present
So we have a choice as a city.
Do we continue an incremental growth strategy or does it take a bold and innovative approach to achieving some big targets?
Does it consider an alternative “out-of-the-box” leadership approach?
Do we as Aucklanders choose to take bold, ambitious and innovative actions?
Innovation and The Challenge it presents
If we want to solve these challenging social sector issues, then we need expanded support in a fundamentally new way for organisations that create scalable, sustainable and systems-changing solutions and results.
Imagine for a moment the results that could be in achieved if we approached solving our housing crisis with a similar approach to that adopted by Team New Zealand in the latest America’s Cup win. They were about a clear vision, a fantastic and passionate team, leading edge technology and boat design as well as a culture of innovative and disruptive thinking. In this campaign, New Zealand maintained its reputation for innovation by replacing the grinders who traditionally adjusted sails and the boom using hand-operated winches with four ‘cyclors’ riding stationary bicycles. This fundamental change created a 30% improved outcome.
What’s the equivalent of “that” in the Auckland Housing and how could it be achieved?
Innovation is a way of thinking. It is not about doing an old thing in a new way, it is about creating a new way to do something new, or a new way to do something better.
It does not accept the status quo; it recognises there may be a better way and is open to making it a reality.
Challenges for People:
However, this also creates the greatest challenge for many people and that is many people are uncomfortable with ‘new’. We’re uncomfortable with new processes, new approaches. We uncomfortable with that with which we are not familiar – whether that is technology, social media, disciplined planning, time to communicate, measuring results, holding ourselves accountable or stepping up and showing bold leadership.
Challenges for organisations:
The existing players in any sector have resources, processes, partners, and business models designed to support the status quo. This makes it difficult and unappealing for them to challenge the prevailing way of doing things. Organizations are set up to support their existing business models.
Because implementing a simpler, less expensive, more accessible product or service could sabotage their current offerings, it’s almost impossible for them to disrupt themselves. This is the reason why many disruptive innovations come from outside the ranks of the established players.
Continuing the America’s Cup analogy, I understand that all the syndicates had looked at the new technology of ‘cyclors’ at some stage but no one else had adopted it. The reason was that the grinders are one of the highest paid members of an America’s Cup team – and in other syndicates they didn’t support this new innovation. Team NZ back in 2013 only had a team of 4, so it had a blank canvas with only one question – how can they win?
Auckland is at a cross-roads. However the future is not pre-ordained. We have an opportunity to choose it. This is the tale of two cities. You get to choose.
We all have the ability to take action today which will help shape the future. The key is in the commitment to the process.