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Source: Convergence 

New Zealand needs to up its game on building inclusive cities that reflect our increasingly diverse communities, claims the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI).


The challenge of responding to changing demographics is one of the key topics at NZPI’s annual conference in March. Climate change, water quality, alternative waste solutions, open ocean aquaculture and managing wild fire risks are also high on the agenda.


NZPI Chair Karyn Sinclair says a conventional, Eurocentric approach to urban development and legislation means many voices and values are disenfranchised.


“As a country, I don’t believe we are consistently good at delivering built environments that meet the needs of our diverse society. Youth, immigrants and urban Maori are at greatest risk of being marginalised,” says Karyn.


“We need to get better at engaging with a wider spectrum of the community to ensure equal distribution of resources and infrastructure. This includes all ethnicities, age groups and socio-economic levels. For example, community consultation tends to favour established homeowners rather than young couples who might be struggling to purchase their first home.


“Even if we miraculously had all the housing we need we still need to ensure that communities’ function – that people are connected, supported, employed, and have adequate access to recreational and educational facilities.


“Enabling people to easily and safely walk to their local shops and schools is an important part of building inclusive and accessible cities, while also reducing the need for car travel and associated congestion and carbon emissions.”


Another important issue facing planners in 2020 is how we deal with waste, says Karyn.


The Government is seeking public feedback on its proposals to increase the landfill levy and apply it to more kinds of waste – for example industrial and construction waste.


“We need to look at how we make real changes at the source,” says Karyn. “I would like to see a conversation around how we start costing resource exploitation, as it is currently really cheap to pollute in New Zealand.


“Internationally, more companies are now taking on the responsibility and cost of product disposal. For example, tyre companies are accepting used tyres for disposal, paint companies are taking back partially used paint tins, and silage wrapping companies are collecting used silage wrap at the end of the season.”


More than 500 delegates are expected to attend NZPI’s Values/Voices/Vision conference – including local and central government, industry leaders, iwi, resource managers, urban designers, scientists and environmental advocates.


Speakers at the March 31 – April 3 event, to be held in Nelson, include internationally-renowned urban planner and ecologist Nina-Marie Lister. Based in Toronto, Nina-Marie was nominated among the Most Influential Urbanists of all time by US-based planning organisation Planetizen. 


Environment Minister David Parker, Maori Development and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, award-winning business journalist and sustainability champion Rod Oram, and digital planning expert Christopher Pettit are other notable speakers.


Representatives from the Ministry for the Environment will also give presentations on new legislation, including National Policy Statements for Urban Development, Highly Productive Land and Freshwater Management.


The role of the planning profession has never been more important, adds Karyn.


“Planners play an integral role in shaping the future of New Zealand. This involves working across rural, natural and physical environments, balancing competing demands and needs.”


The full conference programme can be found here:




·         Established in 1949, NZPI has more than 2000 members involved in strategic planning initiatives and implementation of urban and rural plans


·         NZPI members work in cities, towns, district councils and rural areas and specialise in a variety of different disciplines – for example transport, urban design or conservation


·         The Values/Voices/Vision conference will be held from 31 March to 3 April at the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson.


·         The NZPI conference has been held annually since 1964