Leah Panapa: Feeling home in Auckland

Opinion 07/06/2019

By Leah Panapa, Magic Talk Nights host.

I moved to Auckland in 1992, after getting a call from a Radio Station that offered me a job I couldn’t turn down. It came out of the blue and I wasn’t looking to leave my position in Taupo at the time, but I vividly remember a mixture of intrepidation and excitement as I drove down the Southern motorway with everything I owned stuffed into my car. 

Auckland was the place to be!

I know Frank Sinatra wasn’t singing about the super city but I firmly believed that ‘If I could make it here, I’d make it anywhere’, but many Aucklanders have had enough with 30,000 leaving for other parts of the country in recent years in search of cheaper housing, and more ‘work-life’ balance.

Between June 2013 and June 2017 nearly a net 33,000 Aucklanders moved to other regions, a trend expected to continue due to the city's housing affordability issues.

Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty attracted two thirds of the "exodus", while Dunedin and Queenstown-Lakes have each experienced net population gains from Auckland of more than 1100 people over the four years to June 2017.

Trraffic is another contributor to people shunning Auckland.

Locals spend about 450 hours a year in a car, either as a driver or passenger. In Northland, it was less than 40 hours. In Waikato, people were clocking up just over 120, in Wellington 140 and Christchurch 150.

Bay of Plenty came in at 75 hours.

Yep, Auckland can be a hard place to live.

There are moments I think it would be wonderful to get out of here too and get a bit of ‘breathing room’. Follow in the footsteps of many friends that have done it and head to the countryside and start making artisan cheeses or open a B&B - ha!

But there is something about this sprawling city and every day as I head over the Harbour Bridge, as I did 27 years ago.

I look at the skyline of the city and the water and think, this is home.

Leah Panapa is host of Magic Talk Nights.