Could the Councils covering over 50 per cent of New Zealand’s population and GDP, collaborate in strategic Planning of the major assets which underpin economic growth and competitiveness?
The Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA) was formed in 2011 to establish a long-term collaboration between the TLAs and Regional Authorities from Northland to the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. The purpose was to respond to and manage major interregional and inter-metropolitan investment issues using an evidence-based approach. This agreement is a radical commitment for significant collaboration across an area containing 53 per cent of New Zealand’s population and 52 per cent of its GDP.
In early 2012 UNISA, prompted by Auckland council’s Port planning requirements, decided to form a partnership with Kiwi Rail, NZ Transport Authority, the Ports Freight operators and others to focus on how to reduce the short and long term cost of doing business via freight movements. The project, called the Freight Story, carried out an extensive study of the freight movements and connections to the ports in the upper north island. A key finding of this study was that the upper North Island port network (covering the Ports of Auckland, Tauranga and Whangarei) does have the capacity to meet the projected freight demand over the next 30 years provided that efficiency gains, incremental investments in infrastructure, and the uptake of already consented works are undertaken in a planned and timely manner’.
This project not only provides a template for more projects which explore other key issues including waste, water, population movements, and international connectivity. It also provides a roadmap and urgency for member councils to work together with each other and other agencies to deliver practical implementation. An example is to accelerate the HPMV programme (High productivity Motor Vehicle) to increase the efficiency of the network by upgrading it to carry 80-tonne trucks.