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2001 Report
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The overall quality of life for most people living in New Zealand’s eight largest cities is improving. Our health is getting better and education standards are increasing. Overall crime is reducing and people’s sense of safety is more positive. Unintentional injuries such as traffic fatalities are declining. In recent years the economy has been creating more jobs, and a higher percentage of New Zealanders are employed than at any other time in the past 14 years. The majority of residents in our big cities feel a sense of pride in their city and rate their overall quality of life as good.
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2001 Report



The populations within these cities are expected to continue rising, taking the majority of New Zealand’s growth in the coming years. As the population grows, demand will increase for natural resources such as water and land, and there will be increased pressure on transport infrastructure and services, water and waste systems, energy supplies, community services and recreational facilities. Cities in the Auckland region are already experiencing the impact of the large number of cars on the roads, although the proportion of residents who use a motor vehicle to get to work is slowly declining. Christchurch has ongoing problems related to air quality. All eight cities are working to improve the sustainability of their areas’ natural attributes through initiatives to minimise waste and improve biodiversity.

Population growth can also have a significant impact on economic vitality as demand for goods and services increases. The continual growth of business activity will be essential in order to provide local job opportunities to meet the needs of the rapidly growing local populations. It will also be essential for residents to have the skills and training that are required by local businesses to stimulate local economic growth.

Unemployment is still an important challenge for our cities. Individuals who are unemployed often face considerable financial hardship as well as suffering stress and social isolation.




Generally, reported crime appears to be declining. The rate of recorded burglaries has dropped in all cities although the eight cities combined still have a higher rate than the rest of New Zealand. However, safety in town centres at night is still an issue. The general trend in reported violent crime and the rate of recorded violent and sexual offences have fluctuated, but overall seem to be rising. Rates of child abuse or neglect continue to be high by international standards.




Our cities are growing in ethnic diversity, with higher proportions of Maori, Pacific Islands and Asian peoples in the eight cities compared to the rest of New Zealand. Ethnic diversity can have implications for the way in which services are provided, as well as social cohesion of cities and their communities. While the ethnic composition of the eight largest cities is varied, ensuring that residents have a sense of inclusion, respect for differences and an understanding of the things they have in common is a key challenge facing all cities.

The age of a population creates implications for urban design and service planning, including leisure, health, urban facilities, housing and transport. Ageing is especially pronounced in North Shore, Christchurch and Dunedin whereas Manukau and Waitakere cities have more youthful population structures.




There is a small proportion of the population who feel little or no connection to their community and who are not trusting of others. A small number of residents indicated that they feel lonely or isolated either all or most of the time. A proportion of residents also feel alienated from both local and national political processes.




A key trend is the continuing and increasing exclusion of segments of society from full economic participation. Significant disparities in wellbeing exist between different groups in the large cities and New Zealand as a whole. Life expectancy declines markedly as the deprivation of the area of residence increases. People with the lowest incomes are more likely to suffer and die from just about every disease at every age than the more well-off. These differences are also seen in the incidence of accidental injuries, family violence, crime, victimisation and child abuse.

Across our large cities the more affluent suburbs have higher rates of post-school qualification and the areas which are more deprived have more people with no qualifications. Enrolment in post-secondary school learning is relatively low among lower socio-economic families, and children from these families are more likely to perform poorly at school and be excluded from school. People with the lowest income and level of education are disadvantaged in accessing job opportunities and generally find it harder to retain work. They have become increasingly over-represented among the unemployed and those in marginal employment. This is most evident in the largest cities.

The case linking socio-economic disadvantage to poorer community outcomes is particularly marked in the statistics for Maori. While death rates for Maori (for almost all major causes) have continued to decrease, Maori men and women experience an excess burden of mortality and morbidity throughout life. This includes higher infant mortality rates, higher rates of death and hospitalisation in infancy, childhood and youth, and teenage pregnancy. Maori also have significantly poorer outcomes in the areas of education, employment, child safety and crime. The proportion of Maori women who smoke is considerably higher than non-Maori.

The wellbeing of Pacific Islands people has improved over recent years, but they still experience a heavy burden of avoidable mortality and morbidity, high incidences of preventative disease, unemployment and educational underachievement.




Residents have varying degrees of understanding of, satisfaction with, and involvement in, local decision-making yet the new Local Government Act 2002 expects this. Across all cities lack of consultation was the most frequent reason given for dissatisfaction with public involvement. A key challenge facing councils is to find relevant ways to engage with increasingly diverse communities within their cities.




The new legislation also requires that councils develop community outcomes and monitor progress toward them. Production of this Quality of Life report has highlighted the significant gaps that exist in collection of quality of life statistics, both locally and nationally. No single agency collects all the data needed for this reporting. There is a lack of consistent data collection and recording across government agencies and across councils.




The issues facing large cities are not likely to be solved by a single agency or a single intervention. This quality of life report has highlighted the inter-relationship between outcomes. Multi-dimensional approaches are required to address improved outcomes, with inter-agency co-operation and planning, as well as multiple layers of intervention at organisational, institutional and community level.

Collaboration between local government, central government, community, iwi/Maori and private sector agencies could significantly improve outcomes for our communities and residents. As a democratically accountable body representing geographical communities, city councils are well placed to broker co-ordination and collaboration between sectors within their cities.

 

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  Page Last Updated: 7 Oct 2003
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