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Do New Zealanders still want the quarter-acre dream?

Wellington campus

Monday 2 November 2015 1:38pm

Anna Hamer-Adams and Ed Randal image
Anna Hamer-Adams (right) and co-author Ed Randal.

New Zealanders are moving towards the idea of mixed-use development where housing is within walking and cycling distance of key amenities like work, school or shopping, according to a survey carried out by the New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities.

“Many New Zealanders would still like a large, stand-alone house. But that view changes when people are asked to think about distance from the city/town centre,” says Anna Hamer-Adams, assistant research fellow at the University of Otago, Wellington.

The New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities has just released the survey on people’s sentiments about cities. They surveyed 3,080 New Zealanders in a Horizon Poll to find out opinions and preferences for urban environments, including the types and locations of housing, transport options, and planning regulations.

“Not all respondents favoured the quarter-acre dream,” say Anna Hamer-Adams and co-author Ed Randal, also from University of Otago, Wellington.

More respondents (37%) than not (32%) were in favour of having a quality, compact city vision for their own city, similar to the Auckland Plan. Auckland and Wellington respondents in particular were more comfortable with intensification in their neighbourhoods than other New Zealanders. Those under-25 and over 65 years-old were more likely to prefer a smaller house, townhouse or apartment in the city/town centre than other age groups.

“Most respondents said that Councils, which represented residents, should have the key role in defining the limits and form of the city, as opposed to market forces,” says Hamer-Adams.

New Zealanders also generally saw the need for sustainability. The majority (60%) agreed policies are urgently needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and most (49%) felt urban limits are necessary so that cities develop more sustainably.

The survey forms a chapter of the ‘Drivers of Urban Change’ report which is part of the Resilient Urban Futures programme funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

For more information about the survey, go to

For more information, contact:

Anna Hamer-Adams
Assistant Research Fellow
Resilient Urban Futures programme, New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities
University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
Tel 04 918 6718
Mob 021 0827 0144

Ed Randal
Department of Public Health
Research Fellow
Resilient Urban Futures programme, New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities
University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
Tel 04 918 6191
Mob 021 424 209

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