Statistics New Zealand recently released the subnational population estimates (at 30 June 2010). It tells an interesting story for the Greater Christchurch region.
Christchurch (the greater urban area) continues to hold its position as New Zealand’s second city up 4300 on last year with an estimated population of 390, 300. This compares with Wellington’s 389, 700 and Auckland’s 1, 354, 900 (there is no point to this other than to illustrate Christchurch’s place in things).
What I find interesting about this is that it won’t be long before we breach the 400, 000 mark, and that the city continues to move away (slowly) from Wellington.
Of course, these statistics do not include all of the fast growing satellite urban areas, most of whose inhabitants commute into Christchurch every week day. To give an idea of growth in these areas Waimakariri grew by 1.6 per cent from 2009, for an estimated population of 47, 600, while Selwyn grew by 2.5 per cent, for an estimate of 39, 600 (Selwyn was joint fastest growing territorial authority in New Zealand). A lot of these populations are in urban areas (e.g. Rangiora and Rolleston) so if they were included you are looking at a greater city population of around 420, 000 or so.
The Canterbury region as a whole grew by 1.2 per cent from 2009 (one of the three fastest growing in the country) for an estimated population of 565, 800.
It will be interesting to see what effect the earthquake might have next year, although I’m going to go out on a limb and say “not much”. In fact, with the rebuilding effort going on it might grow a little faster.
So what does this have to do with transport? Mainly its just an opportunity to remind ourselves of the need to accommodate and move a growing population and to think about where that population growth is happening. Even taking a conservative approach, the greater city population is heading towards half a million within the next ten years. This is why I was critical of the attitude of Jim Anderton towards transportation in general, and more specifically public transport. I just don’t think he ever took this growth into account or seriously enough. If you think about it, Christchurch is really about where Auckland was in the 1950’s or 1960’s and we know how decisions made then have impacted on that city’s fortunes today. Food for thought I guess.