One Question Quiz
Image: Getty Images. Design: Archi Banal.
Image: Getty Images. Design: Archi Banal.

PoliticsMarch 18, 2024

What every Aucklander needs to know about the long-term plan

Image: Getty Images. Design: Archi Banal.
Image: Getty Images. Design: Archi Banal.

Because it covers kaupapa from rates rises to public services to the naming of parks, Auckland’s long-term plan has something of interest for every Aucklander.

Auckland Council’s 2023 budget had a historic number of public submissions – roughly 30,000. While that may sound insignificant, it represents nearly 10% of the Aucklanders who voted in 2022’s local elections. Last year’s budget had controversial proposals, including drastic service cuts and selling the council’s Auckland International Airport shares. But councillor and community advocacy led to a more reserved budget that maintained lower rates rises than in other municipalities.

While the council’s current plan out for consultation, its 2024-2034 long-term plan (LTP), has yet to generate as much controversy as 2023’s budget, it’s still worth your attention. This year, mayor Brown has refrained from telling anyone, “Don’t fucking come and talk to me, write a submission,” but his point still stands. The LTP consultation is open until 28 March. “We want Aucklanders to have their say if they want council to do less and spend less, or do more and spend more. These choices will have a direct impact on rates increases and service levels. Nothing is free,” he explained. 

Mayor Wayne Brown chairs a meeting of the Auckland Council governing body. Photo: Toby Manhire

Big-ticket items


The LTP has three proposals for raising rates:

Central proposal: 

  • 7.5% in year one, 
  • 3.5% in year two, 
  • 8.0% in year three, 
  • No more than 3.5% for the years after that, 
  • This proposal would make the most of what the council already does while allowing for more spending in critical areas.

Pay less and get less: 

  • 5.5% in year one,
  • 3.5% in year two,
  • 3.5% in year three,
  • No more than 1% above CPI inflation thereafter,
  • This option will require some service cuts and will slow down infrastructure improvements.

Pay more and get more:

  • 14% in year one,
  • 10% in year two,
  • 10% in year three,
  • 5% for the years after that,
  • This proposal would speed up transport infrastructure projects and increase services plus climate resiliency.

In the submission form, you can identify which specific services you’d like Auckland Council to spend more or less on. The consultation document includes analysis of what each rates proposal means for critical services. Waitematā local board member Alexander Bonham notes that the central and pay less-get less proposals will lead to $300mn of asset sales, which will particularly affect council’s CBD properties.

The Auckland Future Fund

The mayor wants to create a wealth fund, akin to the national superannuation fund, to diversify council’s revenue generation in order to improve council’s long-term financial resiliency. Auckland Future Fund money would come from transferring the council’s remaining airport shares into it and leasing out the Auckland port while retaining council ownership of the land. 

Council estimates the airport shares would boost the AFF’s coffers by $1.4bn, whereas the port lease would add $2-3bn. They expect the fund to generate an average 7.5% return, meaning an extra $200mn annually for the council. Not everyone thinks these numbers stack up, though. Herald senior writer Simon Wilson questions the fund’s credibility. 

Council is considering siphoning its shareholding in the Auckland International Airport (pictured) into the mayor’s Auckland Future Fund. (Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly)

North Harbour Stadium

Because of the stadium’s low attendance/utilisation alongside its high operating costs, Auckland Council is considering three options for North Harbour Stadium: keeping it as is at the cost of $33mn over 10 years; using that money, plus other funding, to redevelop the area while maintaining community playing fields; or, changing the stadium’s operating model to promote community use. 


With the government announcing the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax’s cancellation, Tāmaki-Makaurau transport project funding has become scarce. The three rates options (central, pay less-get less, pay more-get more) would lead Auckland down three very different roads.

The central proposal would put $13.4bn into the city’s transport coffers, allowing for the following initiatives, says council:

  • Development of a time-of-use charge, similar to a congestion charge, to reduce traffic,
  • Introduction of a weekly $50 cap on public transport spending per rider (except for outer harbour ferry services),
  • Investment into a rapid transit network to improve public transport reliability and speed,
  • Optimisation of the public transport network through dynamic lanes (which change direction during peak times, like lanes on the Harbour Bridge),
  • Reduction in the cost and time associated with temporary traffic management (no specific details are given on how), 
  • Renewing and maintaining existing infrastructure,
  • Some support for the City Rail Link, including improving some rail level crossings.

In the pay more-get more scenario, the council would be able to allocate $24bn to Auckland Transport for the following projects:

  • Accelerating ferry decarbonisation,
  • Buying more electric trains,
  • Developing urban cycleways and walking connections,
  • Investing into future mega public transit projects like the airport-Botany busway,
  • Removing all level crossings to minimise congestion and speed up trains,
  • Upgrading the key roading corridors of Lincoln Road and New North Road.

If the council chooses the pay less-get less option, they’ll have $11bn for transport projects, which will mean:

  • A limited amount of money for local board transport initiatives,
  • Delayed introduction of new bus services,
  • Reduced investment in public transport, including ferries,
  • Reduced bus service access and frequency.
A headshot of the Auckland Transport boss Dean Kimpton superimposed over a background of buses and trains.
How much money Auckland Transport CEO Dean Kimpton (pictured) has to play with will be directly impacted by Auckland’s long-term plan. (Photo: Supplied. Design: The Spinoff)

Local board priorities

Alongside the big-ticket items proposed, the LTP also outlines local board priorities. The consultation form lets you select which boards you want to comment on. Below are some examples of local board priorities. 

The Henderson-Massey board wants to complete the sections of the Whau pathway, a cycling-pedestrian connection bridging the Manukau and Waitematā harbours, in its ward. Staying out west, the Waitākere board wants to apply for its famous mountain range to become a “Dark Sky Reserve” for stargazing. In the inner-west, the Albert-Eden board proposes removing all bins from its parks, a policy which has caused issues in the neighbouring Whau ward.  

Across the city in the inner-east, Ōrākei is looking to expand its ambitious pest eradication programme, which seeks to provide a better habitat for indigenous birds. Way out in the gulf, the Aotea local board is looking to progress marine protections in its takiwā. Back on the mainland, the Kaipātiki board is keen to prevent flooding in the Wairau valley, where 34-year-old Daniel Mark Miller died during the Auckland anniversary weekend flooding last year – which is one of many climate resilience projects that local boards are pushing for. 

A map showing the extent of the planned inner-east Auckland pest free zone, covering much of the Ōrākei ward. (Map: Auckland Council)
A map showing the extent of the planned inner-east Auckland pest free zone, covering much of the Ōrākei ward. (Map: Auckland Council)

In the CBD, a new civic space at 254 Ponsonby Road, the old Nosh supermarket site now occupied by LiquorLand, is being prioritised by the Waitematā local board alongside the iwi Ngāti Whātua and Te Waiohua. The mana whenua connections stretch out south, too, where the Franklin, Māngere-Ōtāhuhu and Papakura boards will work with local Māori to rename their parks and reserves.

Auckland’s long-term plan is a complex document with Supercity-wide implications, but the only way for you to ensure that Tāmaki Makaurau grows into the city you would like to see is by submitting your thoughts during the consultation period. Online consultation is open until 11.59pm on March 28. 

This is Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ On Air.

Keep going!