AUCKLAND’S DIVERSITY

In its 2015 World Migration Report, the International Organization for Migration ranked Auckland as the fourth most diverse city in the world behind Dubai, Brussels and Toronto. In the last 5 years, the city grew by 141,450. It will have a population close to 1.7 million by the end of this year and is tipped to reach 2 million within two years. The current population is similar to that of Warsaw, Budapest, Philadelphia and Hamburg.

Auckland Waterfront (Ceidrik Heward)

Known as the ‘City of Sails’ because of the numerous marinas around the place (the next America’s Cup yachting challenge will be held in the city next year) Auckland is responsible for 50% of New Zealand’s total population growth. At the current time, 1 in 5 people on the planet live in a city with a population of over 1 million. There are in fact 548 cities which fall into this category with Auckland being one of them. The city’s current population may seem small compared to the growing number of mega cities around the world which have at least 10 million inhabitants to qualify for this title, but it is the mix of cultures that give Auckland its distinct character and appearance.

Figures taken in 2013 (the latest available) indicated the city’s ethnic breakdown was 59% New Zealand European, 15% Pacific Islander (mainly from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji) 24% Asian and 11% Maori with those from the Middle East, Africa and South America making up just 3% of the city’s population. The fastest growing ethnic group is Asian with most coming from China, Korea and India. In fact, I live on the North Shore and when I moved here 14 years ago, there was a large Polynesian population. Now this has been replaced with Chinese, Korean and Indian. It is just as common for me to hear Korean and Mandarin spoken in my local supermarkets as it is to hear English.  Like any sprawling city, people tend to stick close to their mother culture. South Auckland is where Polynesian citizens live (including Maori) West Auckland is a mix of New Zealand European and Pacific Islander. East Auckland is heavily populated with Chinese while the North Shore has large New Zealand European, South African, Korean, Chinese and Russian populations.

WORLD’S LARGEST POLYNESIAN CITY

In 1966, Auckland was declared ‘the world’s largest Polynesian city’. Although this claim is still used, the city with 177, 900 Maori and Pacific Island residents, is in fact not the largest Polynesian city. That honour goes to Port Moresby with 307, 600 Polynesian residents. Honolulu has a Polynesian population of 233, 630 so Auckland comes in third place for its population of these peoples.

CITY OF CONES

The downtown area is currently going through its biggest changes in the city’s history. Thousands of red cones slow the traffic as lanes are closed or narrowed. Major construction is taking place right across the central city. The building of a new underground subway system with three above ground stations, is causing unprecedented disruption while a network of cycle tracks under construction only adds to the chaos. Two new large shopping malls offering exclusive international brands are now open for business to place the city in the league of ‘international city’. It is now up there with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane as a major Australasian city. As well as a number of multi-storied apartment towers rising around the central city, the three tallest office towers in New Zealand are being built and a new waterfront plaza is being created. These developments have already dramatically changed the city’s skyline. On top of this, a huge convention centre is being salvaged after a major fire blanketed the CBD in toxic smoke for three days in the middle of the recent Christmas build up. Aucklanders are holding their breath as the city surges forward with unprecedented developments across its extensive urban sprawl.

Ceidrik Heward