Greening Our City: How creating more green space in the city centre benefits everyone

Greening Our City: How creating more green space in the city centre benefits everyone

Tuesday 19 October
Online discussion

Urbanisation, a growing population, and climate change call for new solutions to how we create a healthy and happy city centre. Research and studies have shown that a green environment actively contributes to our quality of life. Parks and more green spaces on our streets not only provide spaces for us to unwind, rebalance, and exercise, but the addition of trees and plants can absorb carbon, improve air quality, provide shade and address stormwater run-off. Greening a city centre is an important part of future-proofing the city and improving liveability.

Long gone are the days of Auckland's city centre coming alive at nine and emptying at five - Auckland (in non-lockdown times) has evolved into a diverse place for a growing population of people who like to shop, socialise and do business, and those who choose to live there. In fact, it is the densest residential neighbourhood in New Zealand, with over 35,000 people now calling the city centre home.

Through our City Centre Masterplan (CCMP) we are designing an improved city centre that has all of these people in mind, a greener, more liveable and sustainable place for everyone. 

This Auckland Conversations will explore the environmental, social and health benefits that come from greening a city centre and how improving access to and quality of green space will ensure the heart of our city is a vibrant and bountiful place for everyone – one that is uniquely Tāmaki Makaurau. 

Iain White

Professor of Environmental Planning, University of Waikato

Iain White is Professor of Environmental Planning at the University of Waikato and Associate Dean Research for Arts, Law, Psychology and Social Science. Prior to this he was the Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology at the University of Manchester, UK. He is committed to engaging with researchers, practitioners and communities to generate real world impact concerning new forms of spatial development, climate change adaptation, and addressing the housing crisis. He was a Hallsworth visiting Professor at the University of Manchester (2018-2019) and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia (2019-2022). In 2020 he won the University of Waikato Vice Chancellor's Award for Research Excellence and in 2021 the New Zealand Planning Institute Award of Merit. He is the author/co-author of: Environmental Planning in Context (Palgrave, 2015), Water and the City (Routledge, 2010), The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning (Routledge, 2019), and Why Plan? Theory for Practitioners (Lund Humphries, 2019).

Frith Walker

Head of Placemaking, Eke Panuku

Frith heads up the team of placemakers at Eke Panuku, a role she describes as the job of a lifetime. Frith began her placemaking journey in 2011 for Waterfront Auckland with the redevelopment of the waterfront, a 20 plus year regeneration project. Frith and her team now “sprinkle their magic” in many neighbourhoods throughout the city for Eke Panuku.As a placemaker she understands that the people, stories and needs of an area are crucial to create successful places. Eke Panuku has a vital role to play in making places where people feel a strong relationship with their communities and a commitment to make things better.Frith is one the NZ representatives for the global network Placemaking X and an advocate for the UN ratified New Urban Agenda. She’s an enthusiastic supporter of the difference a healthy public realm can make in terms of creating liveable cities for all.

Howell Davis

Principal Specialist - Urban Ngahere (Forest), Auckland Council

Howell Davies has an arboricultural background with 25 years’ experience in the tree care, management, and urban streetscape redevelopment. He has practical experience in the tree care industry and began his career climbing trees in 1992 in the USA, before moving to New Zealand in 1994. He has a Diploma in Arboriculture, with Distinction and awarded the best research topic for his final diploma year. Howell also has a Diploma from Farnborough College of Technology. He studied Environmental Analysis and Monitoring from 1986-1988. 

Howell currently works for the Auckland Council having had various roles in council over the last 20 years. His experience and input into  Auckland’s large city centre and sub urban redevelopment projects’ over the last 15 years has resulted in a stepped change to how trees are planted in the central city. 

Councillor Richard Hills

Environment and Climate Change Committee Chair, Auckland Council

Councillor Richard Hills is chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee and North Shore ward Councillor. He is a second term councillor and, when elected, was the second youngest councillor in Auckland Council History. He is Auckland Council’s first rainbow councillor and belongs to Ngā Puhi.Councillor Hills’ priorities include people, public transport, climate change, youth, mental health, and the environment. He is currently leading Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri, the Auckland response to climate change.Prior to election as a councillor, Cr Hills spent two terms as a member of the Kaipātiki Local Board and was a youth worker, employed across health boards in Auckland.

Chlöe Swarbrick

MP, Auckland Central

Chlöe is your Member of Parliament for Auckland Central. It’s the place she calls home, the community she belongs to and the city and Hauraki Gulf islands, she is proud to represent. As the local MP, Chlöe is focused on Auckland Central’s key concerns around housing, transport, environment and small businesses. Chlöe also works tirelessly for bold, transformational action on the issues for which she is the Green Party spokesperson, including Drug Law Reform, Economic Development, Mental Health and Small Businesses.

Dr Natalie Allen

Director - The Urban Advisory

Natalie is a director at leading urban strategy consultancy The Urban Advisory. She works across the public, private, and community sectors to make the seemingly complex simple when it comes to designing and delivering our built environment. Natalie specialises in designing neighbourhoods that enhance wellbeing and is passionate about supporting the delivery of quality, resilient, and people-centric projects.

She has a background in architecture, urban design, and urban governance and extensive research experience across a range of critical urban topics: integrated urban planning and community visioning, urban growth and increasing density, and housing preferences and demand. She maintains wide-ranging industry networks and mentors many up and coming urbanists.

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