Friday, October 18, 2013

Country matters #4

Statistics NZ recently released the regional population figures from the 2013 census. Quote unquote:
All regional council areas showed population growth or had steady populations between 2006 and 2013, except for Gisborne, which had a small decline.
Auckland was the fastest-growing region, increasing by 8.5 percent to 1,415,550 at the 2013 Census. Auckland accounted for over half of New Zealand’s population growth between 2006 and 2013.
Nelson was the second-fastest-growing region, up 8.3 percent to 46,437, followed by Waikato, which increased 6 percent to 403,638.
The overall figures are a bit misleading as they mask intra-regional differences.  As Elton Smallman reports in the Waikato Times, Thames-Coromandel, with a growth of 0.9 per cent, showed a decline in eight of its 12 monitored areas while 10 out of South Waikato’s 16 area units recorded a decline:
“At a national level, everybody is lauding all of the growth in Auckland but the rest of the country has got to deal with it,” said [Professor Natalie Jackson, director of Waikato University’s national institute of demographic and economic analysis].
“The district councils have got to deal with these areas that are not growing and it’s all lumped onto them as if somehow it is their fault,” she said.
“It’s not gloom and doom as much as realisation, and this is to me confirmation of the reality of regional decline and that trend continuing.”
South Waikato mayor Neil Sinclair said there was widespread concern among rural communities over urban drift and the problem needed to be addressed. “Certainly our young ones are leaving in terms of jobs and that’s why my council has taken the strategy of more jobs and better promotion of our district.”
Declining population put pressure on essential services and Mr Sinclair said his council was expected to pick up “the central government slack”.
“We have a basic infrastructure to maintain and if you are losing ratepayers then you are losing your rating base. But you still have to do that infrastructure.”
Indeed. But where I live, “Swayne Road area, Cambridge”, has grown by 524%. Take that, Auckland. We now have a population of 1461. Mathematically inclined readers will be able to work out what the population was in 2006.  Truly, it were all fields around here then. Still is, mostly

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