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Taking the Right Risks for the regions – Newsroom column

At the launch of our Taking the Right Risks policy paper, Alex Penk and Julian Wood co-authored a column for Newsroom that outlined our research and the urgency to take action for the future of New Zealand’s regions.

Read the column:
Time to take a risk for the regions

“Over the next 30 years, it’s projected that around two-thirds of our regions will experience population stagnation or decline, with the population growing significantly older on average.

The regions may also struggle with larger economic forces. For example, as a small nation we don’t have much of a “home market” so we rely heavily on access to global markets which typically occurs through globally-linked “growth nodes” — read, urban centres with international airports and ports. Regional communities will need good transport links with these centres to take advantage of international opportunities. If they’re isolated and we can’t build the necessary roads and rail to link them in, these communities will struggle.

With these challenges looming, we welcome the Government’s intention to invest heavily in the regions, and its war chest of $3 billion, a.k.a. the Provincial Growth Fund, certainly holds out hope for those of us who live outside urban centres. But if that spending is going to live up to its promise, it needs to be done right.

Spending money like this always involves risk, and our research demonstrates that we’ll have the best chance of success if regional policy is based on a model of “smart growth and smart decline”. That’s going to require some change. At the moment, government policy focuses solely on growth. While we should go for growth wherever possible, that simply won’t be the reality for every community, town, or region. Given the challenges facing the regions, we have to face the fact that some places will experience decline.”

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Alex Penk

By Alex Penk - 24/04/2018

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