Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Still bigger than Auckland

Last year I wrote a post that examined the seemingly extraordinary claim that Wellington's CBD has more workers than Auckland's, and ended up confirming the fact. I'm still working on updating the maps, but I can now update the counts with data from the 2006 Census, with the same definitions of CBD areas and "workers" as before.
workers 2001 53,09750,151
workers 2006 60,69359,049
workers/ha 2006346194

So, Auckland's CBD workforce has been growing faster than Wellington's, but we're still very slightly ahead, and the density of workers is still much higher in Wellington. It will be interesting to compare the combined working and residential population of the two central cities, though, especially since Auckland has seen an even faster growth in inner-city apartments in the past five years than we have.

In this context, it's hard to make sense of yesterday's Dominion Post article (page C5). It's primarily about the dominance of the government sector in Wellington's office real estate, but the figure they use for the total number of CBD workers is 92,000. I can't see how you can get this from the census data, even if you use a more inclusive definition of "CBD" than I did. If you include all of Thorndon, Lambton and Te Aro, you get 70,000; and all of Wellington City has 111,660 workers, many of whom are not even vaguely near the CBD. They must be basing their data on some sort of real estate survey, but while I expect some sort of variation, 60,000 to 90,000 seems too big a difference to explain away easily.


At 4:23 PM, May 23, 2007, Anonymous Julian said...

111,660 workers and not one can do a reliable headcount.

At 7:06 PM, May 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What areas did u use for each CBD?

At 8:46 AM, May 24, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

I've got maps of the areas, and explanations of why I chose those definitions, on last year's post.

At 12:13 PM, May 24, 2007, Blogger stephen said...

Wasn't that article based on a National Party press-release? They could be lying/exaggerating for effect -- since 92,000 is almost exactly 150% of 60,693.

That's pleasingly efficient worker/ha stat.

At 3:29 PM, May 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you tried looking at the business demographics employee count data rather than census based counts?

At 5:23 PM, May 24, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

That's a good thought, but from what I can see of the business data on the Stats NZ site, it can only be broken down as far as Territorial Authority, not area units or meshblocks. For all of Wellington City Council, it gives 132,720 employees, compared to 111,600 from the Census: the latter would be missing people who didn't include their workplace address, wrote it down incorrectly, or were overseas on Census night.

The article was based upon a survey by property company CBRE, and while the opposition has always been keen on highlighting the growth of the public sector, the article didn't have that slant (it was more about market information for property investors and commercial landlords). They may have purchased some business data from Stats NZ at a fine enough level to separate out the CBD, and used a more generous definition of "CBD" than I did. But even if I include all of Te Aro, Thorndon & Harbour Quays I only get 66,000 workers; multiplying by the same ratio of business stats to census as we get for WCC, that still only gives 79,000: well short of the 92,000 in the article.

At 3:44 AM, May 25, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

I bet the Christchurch CBD has as many workers as the Auckland and Wellington CBDs combined, assuming we exclude non-working employees viz, public servants, public relations and and assorted other head office "support" industries.
But on a serious note, does the absence of harbours, hills, and motorways produce a higher population density than Auckland or Wellington.
I have a Ministry of Energy study from 1979 showing per capita petrol consumption was the same in Wellington and Christchurch. Basicly the advantage Wellington gained from its commuter rail was matched by the advantage Christchurch gained from being flat and compact. The same study showed Auckland and Hamilton had the per capita fuel consuption because Aucklands size resulted in fewer but longer trips wheras Hamiltons very small size resulted in more but shorter trips, ie they could pop home at lunchtime, etc.

PS, I have a copy of the Ministry of Works 10 year plan for the Wellington region from the MOWs 1946 annual report.
Shows the rail double tracking, electrification and extensions that were considered necessary in the foreseeable future along with proposed housing areas.Shows the original outer-urban motorways too, and Rimutaka tunnels for the highway and the railway.

At 3:52 AM, May 25, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

The full file name is

At 11:08 AM, May 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again. Re: Business Demographic figures. CAU figures are available for purchase. If you combine the Thorndon, Lambton and Willis - Cambridge CAU's you get a total employee count of 92,466. Remember that this data includes those who may come from outside the city to work.

At 2:11 PM, May 25, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks for that. The only data I have access to at the moment is meshblock data, and I don't think I'll be buying any other data soon. I also used meshblocks to allow a finer definition of "CBD", since while there's no official definition, I don't think most people would think of Grant Road or Buckle St as CBD. But I'll do a comparison of that extended "CBD" definition soon.

I assumed from the definition of the meshblock "Workplace address" data that it counted everyone who wrote down a workplace address in that meshblock, no matter where they lived. Is that not correct?

Kevyn: I've never thought of Christchurch as being particularly compact, and I have a feeling that it has significantly lower density than Wellington. But I'll do some analysis soon to check up on it.

At 2:02 AM, May 26, 2007, Anonymous Kevyn Miller said...

You are may be correct about the population density. I was really thinking of how Christchurch has been able to develop outwards from the CBD in every direction placing most suburbs within a 6km commute from the CDB.
I lived in Upper Hutt for a few years and had relatives in Wainuiomata so that was really my reference point. And the fact that I grew up in West Auckland in the 60s when it was already obvious that the motorways and being squeezed between two harbours was creating ribbon sprawl.


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