Media Release

Irrespective of the chaos the COVID-19 pandemic has created in our lives, the challenge of shaping Aotearoa’s future cityscape needs to be confronted and planners from all over the country will soon convene at Te Pae, Christchurch’s new Convention Centre, to do just that.

“Inherent in their job description, planners think strategically and create order amongst the chaos of ideas and divergent pathways confronting our decision-makers,” Te Kokiringa Taumata New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) Chief Executive David Curtis says.

“The pandemic has required policy makers and leaders alike to be nimble – constantly tilting, shifting, and innovating. It’s the same with the nation’s planners who operate behind the scenes to shape where we live, work and spend our leisure time,” he says.

The theme of NZPI’s March 2022 conference is Hīkina te Mānuka – Rise Up to the Challenges and 1000 planners from across the motu are expected to attend to consider how to address the challenges facing our increasingly diverse communities and future generations.

“Alongside the mechanisms put in place to cope with COVID-19, we need to increase momentum in creating strategies to address the challenges in New Zealand’s future,” David Curtis says.

“The NZPI conference is an opportunity for the strategic thinkers in our industry sector to meet and tackle top issues such as reform, housing affordability and climate change, with COVID-19 featuring as one facet of the forum rather than its central focus,” he says.

“Collectively we’ll be testing what the future of Aotearoa looks like. The conference is an opportunity to identify how we can achieve transformative change and to consider what factors are fundamental to making that a success.”

The event will explore the role of planners in reforms and challenge the industry to understand what is at stake within New Zealand, the Pacific and globally.

Keynote speakers include Laurie Johnson, an internationally recognised urban planner specialising in disaster recovery and catastrophe risk management. She is Chief Catastrophe Response and Resiliency Officer for the California Earthquake Authority and the newly-established California Wildfire Fund.

Laurie will speak about rising to disaster challenges and the importance of planners and planning. She’s also presenting a framework for planning, managing and retreating from future hazard-prone areas.

Dyan Currie
is the Chief Planner at Brisbane City Council and the 2032 Olympic Games host city office lead.

Dy’s address on sustainable urbanisation across the Commonwealth and the future of planning practice will draw on her national and international experience in planning and economic development. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Cities of Tomorrow and Co-Chair of UN Habitat’s Stakeholder Advisory Group.

The conference always provides a stimulating environment for thought-provoking discussions.

For example, David Curtis says on the question of the Resource Management Act reform, the emphasis needs to be as much on getting it right as on getting it done.

“The levels of reform we’re currently facing as an industry mean there’s lots of uncertainty and planners are under increasing pressure.

“We need to ensure the pace of reform isn’t at the expense of the wellbeing of planners and others trusted to bring the reforms and the community goals to life in practical ways.”

AUT Professor Jarrod Haar
will address the challenge of job burn-out. He’s been tracking job burn-out across 2020 and 2021, and the odds of high burn-out risk have increased markedly in New Zealand.

Another topic is the emphasis planners should place on working in partnership with Māori and incorporating mātauranga, their knowledge and aspirations, in planning and decision-making, David Curtis says.

Among the conference keynote speakers are Dr Te Maire Tau, Director at Ngāi Tahu Research, and three guests from Matapopore, the charitable trust tasked with providing cultural advice and guidance to decision-makers after the Christchurch earthquakes to ensure Ngāi Tūāhuriri/Ngāi Tahu values, aspirations and narratives were realised within the built form of the city’s rebuild.

Dame Aroha Reriti-Crofts
, Lynne Te Aika and Debbie Tikao from Matapopore will present about weaving a new korowai for Ōtautahi.

They will showcase projects which have contributed to shaping a more vibrant and meaningful environment – a city that expresses our shared histories and Treaty partnership and which bring to life the stories of mana whenua.

Our increasingly diverse society presents planners with opportunities to engage with local communities and incorporate ideas and philosophies that might not have been considered closely before.

“For instance, on the issue of housing affordability, we need to deliver what society wants, which requires planners to consider more than just current market forces, and that involves increased community engagement and inclusion,” David Curtis says.

COVID-19 will permeate the discussion because it is affecting our day-to-day lives so much. Keynote speaker Richard Florida, one of the world’s leading urbanists and founder of the Creative Class Group, will address the post-pandemic future with his talk on how cities and communities can build back stronger and more resilient, after the job losses and business closures of the last two years.

Discussion topics for the conference follow three strands:

  • Spatial planning – including housing affordability and capacity, the Government’s Three Waters reform programme, and infrastructure provision.
  • Aotearoa planning – what does a New Zealand planning system look like? This strand includes the Natural and Built Environments Act and planning culture.
  • Resilience and regeneration – including climate change, natural hazards, and post-earthquake urban renewal.

Hīkina te Mānuka – Rise Up to the Challenges will be held at Te Pae in Christchurch from March 9-11, 2022. For more information see the conference page

Media enquiries

Janine Ogier
Convergence Communications
M: 0277 534 360

Event enquiries

Vanessa White
NZPI Event Manager
M: 021 166 1802