Report identifies challenges, opportunities for Northland

4 Apr 2017, 12:10 PM

The future needs of more than 2.5 million people – including 170,000 Northlanders –   have been given a voice through the release of a report that shows how life could change for more than half of all New Zealanders in the coming decade.  

Malcolm Nicolson and Bill Shepherd sign the agreement.Northland Regional Council CEO Malcolm Nicolson, left, and Chairman Bill Shepherd pledge the council's commitment to the UNISA partnership agreement for 2017-2019.

Northland Regional Council chairman Bill Shepherd says ‘The Upper North Island Story’ report is a step towards aligning local and central government priorities to support economic growth, good living standards and healthy environments.

The report – available online via – was prepared by the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA); seven district, city and regional councils across the Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.

It identifies the need for collaborative investment and planning to tackle increasing pressure on housing, infrastructure, natural resources (such as water and productive land), skilled labour and transport systems.

Chairman Shepherd says from Northland to Waikato, the Upper North Island supports 53 percent of the national population and generates 52 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He says growth in the Upper North Island is increasing more rapidly than for the rest of New Zealand and will continue to do so.

“While good for the country as a whole, sustaining this comes with challenges that local councils simply can’t manage alone.”

Collaboration to identify and focus on the things that matter most means councils can help create the best possible future for all New Zealanders.

The seven councils established UNISA in 2011 to co-ordinate efforts in understanding and tackling inter-regional challenges.

Mayors and Chairs from the partner councils – including Chairman Shepherd and Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai – met in Auckland recently to receive the Upper North Island Story.

They also re-confirmed their commitment to working together by signing a UNISA partnership agreement for 2017-2019.

Chairman Shepherd says The Upper North Island Story outlines population and economic growth projections out to 2033.

“It identifies key challenges and opportunities that Upper North Island communities will face as a result of these projected changes.”

He says UNISA partners will working together to tackle shared challenges and maximise opportunities through collaborative investment, planning and advocacy work.