Welcoming The Committee for Auckland

July 30th, 2013

Nau mai! We are delighted to welcome our new community partner in New Zealand, The Committee for Auckland

The Committee describes itself as a not-for-profit organisation set up to contribute to making Auckland one of the world’s great places to live and work. It is an independent, evidence-based, thought leadership organisation promoting an innovative approach to a range of complex issues. 

Heather Shotter, Executive Director, explains why Auckland’s diversity is important to the city’s prosperity.

Why is immigrant integration important to the Committee for Auckland?

The Committee for Auckland’s work is founded on 5 basic principles: igniting leadership and momentum; creating a dynamic and collaborative region; accelerating liveability; promoting talent and knowledge; and building an international city of significance

All these principles are encapsulated in the work of the Cities of Migration. We see it as a perfect fit for us and the significance of migrant integration for our regional development has been thoroughly referenced in our Auckland Skills Agenda study in 2012.

The Auckland Council’s vision for Auckland is that the city will be the world’s most liveable city by 2040. In multicultural Auckland with a population that is 40% foreign-born what does that mean? How is the city changing?

Auckland is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. We believe this provides us with a unique competitive advantage. Migrants who bring their talent, investment and their unique cultural perspective to Auckland add a vibrancy and richness to our city. They make Auckland an exciting and prosperous place to reside, visit, do business and get an education. As a result we have seen Auckland’s cultural and social context change, reflected in the types of entertainment offered and the new arts festivals, street markets and restaurants that our migrants bring to the City’s landscape. On a deeper level the new talent inherent in our migrants has also changed the face of entrepreneurship and investment opportunities that Auckland offers.

What is Auckland doing to address the challenge of recruiting and retaining global talent to ensure the city’s future prosperity?

There is a lot riding on Auckland’s success. Auckland is New Zealand’s economic centre and international hub. Our population is growing, and aging. Internationally, cities like Sydney and Stockholm are dressing up their reputations to do battle for skilled immigrants. Our 2012 Auckland Skills Agenda study highlighted that the movement of talent is a two-way street and that Auckland needs to pick and choose the right talent to support its growing industries, just as other cities do. Auckland has an excellent reputation as a clean, safe city where you can raise a family in comfort and live no more than 20 minutes drive from a beach or the native bush.

But to attract skilled talent we need to do more than this. As a Committee we are working with central Government and local council organisations to attract the world’s best and brightest to our shores and to do this we need to hone our offering into compelling sound bites that enable Auckland to compete with other international cities. The Committee firmly believes that Auckland needs to establish its own brand, complementary to that of New Zealand but recognizing the needs of all stakeholders, from exporting businesses based in Auckland to educational institutions attempting to attract students to residents who must collectively manage all the trade-offs involved in living in an urban environment.

Auckland should coordinate a focus on industry/cluster development with migrant recruiting, aligning national focus, migrants’ skills, and industries targeted for growth with investment in industry development and migrant recruiting activities. This should incorporate the export education industry to establish links and provide a feeder pipeline.

What can Auckland learn from the example of international cities?

Labour is mobile. We will continue to export skilled people and new New Zealanders from South America, Africa and Asia ( to name just some areas) are critical to driving our economy forward. Other cities focus on attracting migrants in the long term by targeting students in the hope that they will settle where they studied once they have qualified. Foreign students can play a greater role in enhancing the employee skill base for Auckland.

At present we believe the role of foreign students in our ecosystem is underdeveloped. Enhancing the employee skill base could be achieved by improving the transition rate from study to residence for highly skilled post graduate international students. Knowledge of a smooth residency transition with the achievement of a post graduate qualification (in specified fields with known skill needs) may make NZ a more attractive option for international students.

Auckland is pursuing improved economic performance to fulfill its role as a critical economic engine in the broader New Zealand economy. How can Auckland punch above its weight globally in attracting and welcoming immigrants? 

Our Government understands that when Auckland succeeds, so does New Zealand. Our city at 1.5 million is one third of the whole country’s population. We are the only international city of significance and we are the first stop for most visitors and new residents to our country. On a world stage New Zealand has always punched above its weight because we are a nation of migrants on the worlds edge away from both large and traditional markets to sell our products. We have had to be clever and nimble to compete on a world stage whether that is in business (Air New Zealand) sport (Rugby) or culture (Weta Workshops). Now as the world’s economic balance has shifted we are closer to significant economic powerhouses such as China and that is a great advantage for us. OMEGA (Opportunities for Migrants in Greater Auckland) began developing these relationships at the grass roots level a few years ago. Now the Committee for Auckland is using the heft of its national and international members to have meaningful dialogue with industry leaders across all sectors.

The Committee for Auckland works internationally with Committees for Cities & Regions – across New Zealand and Australia.  What can cities learn from one another? 

Committee for Cities offers us a platform to exchange learnings from other cities with similar populations and to share best practice examples of projects and thinking around issues of significance. Cities matter because by 2025, about 1.2 billion people will live in Commonwealth cities. These cities will double in size in a generation. New Zealand is unusual amongst these countries, not for being highly urbanized – 87.5% of our people live in urban areas already, nor for urbanizing very fast – third fastest in the OECD after Turkey and Mexico and faster than Australia and Canada, but because so many New Zealanders live in one city, Auckland.

What’s next for the Committee for Auckland?

Working with iwi (indigenous Maori tribes ) to develop a range of commercial collaborations and full economic integration of local Iwi with Auckland’s commercial environment. Producing a compelling international brand for our international city. Benchmarking the social and economic value of the creative sectors to Auckland for retaining and attracting residents. Developing a set of scalable performance indicators that enable us to measure our development and successes against international criteria s well as our progress year on year. Working with Central and Local Government to present funding solutions for the infrastructure required for our future city of 2 million people.

 What’s your favourite city? What would you like to bring home to Auckland?

New Zealanders and Australians are renowned world wide as great travellers , maybe it’s the tyranny of distance but we seem compelled to’ see the world’ and like my fellow citizens I have had the opportunity to visit many beautiful and exciting cities around the world. No matter how big or small I have always been able to find something that inspires me and whether its a great restaurant, show, shop, building, view or even a road, yes, I am inspired by infrastructure!! And of course the people. I am always interested in getting off the tourist track and seeing what inspires the locals about their own city.

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Heather Shotter is the Executive Director for the Committee for Auckland. She has had a successful career in the corporate sector. She has spent 12 years at SKYCITY Entertainment Group, where she held responsibility for the day to day running and growth of all New Zealand operations and for Group Marketing across Australasia. Her career has also included tenures at Telecom New Zealand and Shell Oil New Zealand. Heather was previously the Executive Trustee of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.

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