A cause for celebration: our city centre’s ongoing transformation

21 March 2024

  • City Centre
  • Op-ed

Eke Panuku is responsible for leading the collaborative urban regeneration of Auckland’s City Centre on behalf of the Auckland Council whanau, guided by the City Centre Masterplan and the City Centre Action Plan.

First published in Project Auckland and republished with thanks to the NZ Herald 

PLD CBD Simon 7996

Author: Simon Oddie, Eke Panuku Priority Location Director City Centre.



What’s the most economically significant four-and-a-bit square kilometres in all of New Zealand?

The answer, right in front of us, might surprise you.

While only 4.3 square kilometres in size, Auckland’s city centre produces 7% of our national GDP. And while just 0.4% of Auckland’s total geographic area, it generates nearly one-fifth of our city’s GDP.

Talk to our Chief Economist or our colleagues at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, the Council Groups Economic Development agency, and they will tell you that Auckland’s city centre is the most economically productive patch of land in Aotearoa, convincingly outpacing the rest of the country in growth.

While only 4.3 square kilometres in size, Auckland’s city centre produces 7% of our national GDP.

We’re seeing exciting investment in a range of short-stay accommodation and new homes with more in the pipeline.  New shops and businesses are opening and the investment in quality office space by an increasing number of professional, financial and tech firms is reported pretty much daily in this very publication.

We’re renowned for hosting the biggest and best events, premiere arts and cultural festivals.

Nowhere else in the country is able to sustain the quality and quantity of offerings our city centre does.

That’s not to say this little patch of land at the centre of Auckland doesn’t have its challenges. 

The scars of COVID lockdowns are still visible, and like other parts of the country and cities around the world, we are still grappling with the effects of anti-social behaviour and economic headwinds.

However, fortunately, in contrast to what some commentators might have you believe, the death of the city centre has been greatly exaggerated.

Forget the heresay - look instead at what’s actually happening: the construction of the City Rail Link and the above-ground developments associated with it; the carefully considered transformation of our waterfront between Westhaven Marina and the ferry terminal, including plans for the newest – and largest – inner city park in over a century; the investment in public transport, safer streets and better walking and cycling infrastructure to provide easier, faster and more reliable options for people accessing the city centre; public spaces and new streets between the waterfront and K-road which enhance these areas as destinations; the installation and genuine celebration of public art that clearly identifies Auckland as a city that embraces taonga tuku iho; and the encouragement of new residential and commercial development – this is what transformation in Auckland’s city centre looks like and it’s happening right now.

This revitalisation hasn’t been accidental. It happens because the people and organisations that I work with on a daily basis grapple with the big questions every day.

What have we learned? What’s next? How do we get there?

Every day on my way to work I walk past Karanga-a-Hape and Te Waihorotiu stations as they bit by bit look less like construction sites and more like entries to our new underground. 

It’s easy to underestimate just what a difference these stations will make to our city centre; yes, more convenient for people to get to the city centre, but best of all the opportunity for more people to call these burgeoning neighbourhoods home.

As evidenced through the pandemic, residents are the backbone of a thriving city. And so, in collaboration with others, we are turning our focus to growing the residential population in the city centre. This means ensuring there are the amenities, facilities and transport options to support growth and make it an attractive and socially cohesive place to live.

The confidence to invest here is because we are delivering on the city centre masterplan, because of the partnerships that exist between public and private sector, because of the place our city centre is today, and because of its future potential.

And it’s this potential we are working to fulfil.

All of this is helping to accelerate Auckland's growth, and I’m proud of the work we’re doing to ensure our very special four-and-a-bit square kilometres continues to punch above its weight when it comes to contributing to the economic, cultural, social and environmental wellbeing of our country.


Learn more about the our City Centre development projects here

Other news from City Centre