Private and public sector collaborations to galvanise Auckland’s recovery

The recent COVID-19 community outbreak has reinforced the importance of Auckland having a unified response for recovery, with close collaboration between public and private sectors.

Auckland’s economic development agency convened Auckland’s Future, Now at the start of August to capture the voices and ideas of 200 leading business and economic thinkers.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) has distilled the feedback and ideas from the event into actions to galvanise the region’s recovery.

ATEED Chief Executive Nick Hill says corporate and business leaders had signalled that they wanted to convene, to collaborate and share ideas to tackle the ongoing challenges facing Auckland in a COVID-19 world.

“We are the economic engine room of New Zealand, something demonstrated by the impact around the country of Auckland being at Alert Level 3. Our business leaders don’t want to compromise safety, but they believe substantial economic activity is still possible through smart, responsive and shared management of New Zealand’s response, with our public and private sectors working together.

“We heard that our businesses want action, they want to be part of the solution and are ready to work in unison to lead the region’s recovery. There were clear themes and ideas that emerged throughout the day and we have distilled them into a plan to work on together.” 

ATEED has identified fives themes with significant opportunity to boost Auckland’s recovery: investment attraction, workforce and skills, border management, domestic promotion, and new public funding mechanisms. Each theme has recommended actions.

“They include boosting investment and our people’s skills in sectors like technology, the creative industries or advanced manufacturing; a closer dialogue between Auckland’s businesses and educational institutions about future skills and labour force needs; establishing a transparent process for prioritising high-value migrants, investors and visitors, whose arrivals in New Zealand would unlock local jobs; and collectively advocating for new public funding mechanisms for ‘game-changing’ opportunities.”

Mayor Phil Goff, who opened the event and listened to the discussions throughout the day, says the message from private sector leaders was clear.

“The private sector is ready and eager to partner with central and local government on initiatives to expand economic activity while upholding and enhancing border, testing and quarantine measures,” Phil Goff says.

“What we are talking about is a new phase in the COVID-19 response. The first phase was about rapidly scaling up health, border and quarantine infrastructure needed to protect public health and contain the virus. 

“Six months on from the start of the pandemic, that infrastructure is broadly in place. Now we need to look to the next phase of the response – how we continue to protect against incursion of the virus while leveraging the success of our COVID response to boost economic growth and recovery, create jobs and enable our city and country to move forward.”

ATEED is now forming working groups around each theme and a process to keep Mayor Phil Goff, the council, and central government policymakers informed about the recommendations, ideas, solutions and progress of those groups

Auckland’s Future, Now

Responding to calls from Auckland businesses, ATEED hosted a one-day event bringing together leading business and economic thinkers on Wednesday, 5 August. 

The purpose was to create a space for business to collectively discuss and explore shared solutions for Auckland’s recovery, identifying areas for action, collaboration and advocacy. 

The consolidated feedback from the event will be critical input into a broader economic agenda for Auckland, the development of ATEED’s ongoing work programmes, the development of Auckland Council’s long-term plan, and to central government decisionmakers and policymakers.

The invite-only event targeted Auckland’s large-scale influential corporate leaders, chief executives, company directors and senior officials from ministries Auckland regularly works with, as well as leading innovators and entrepreneurs, industry associations and tertiary institutions. Participants and panellists represented a broad range of sectors, particularly in industries trading internationally and generating export revenue.

Mayor Phil Goff opened the day, while keynotes from Rt Hon Sir John Key and Rob Fyfe and a Q&A with Rt Hon Helen Clark bookended eight panels featuring a broad range of businesspeople.

Panels covered: 

  • COVID-19 Impact on Auckland – on our people, communities and economy
  • International Connection – constraints, opportunities, operating with closed borders
  • Talent & Education – changing labour force dynamics
  • Auckland as a Global Haven – attracting talent, business and investment
  • Vibrant City Centre and Neighbourhoods – in a time of economic stress
  • Recovery for a Sustainable Future – driving a low-carbon future for Auckland
  • Health and Social Cohesion – how do leaders build social cohesion and support healthy workers
  • Creative & Tech Ecosystem

More than 35 panellists on the day included Scott Pritchard, Precinct Properties; Pip Greenwood, company director; Graeme Stephens, SKYCity; Simon Moutter, company director; Pat MacFie,; Kirstin Te Wao, Vodafone; Philly de Lacy, Screentime; Sam Witters, AMO Group; Tania Pouwhare, The Southern Initiative; Ziena Jalil, Director MIT/Unitec; Frances Valintine, Tech Futures Lab; Brett O’Riley, EMA; Viv Beck, Heart of the City; Precious Clark, Maurea Consulting; Vanessa Sorenson, Microsoft NZ; Michelle Dickinson, Nanogirl Labs; Robert Reid, FIRST Union; John Ballingal, Sense Partners; Rob Campbell, company director.

Videos of the panels and keynotes are available to view, as well as written and graphical summaries of the day.

The event was supported by a reference group, which guided panel topics, panellist and guest suggestions, and helped shape the resulting action plan. The plan will be a live document, anticipating the need to adapt to changing circumstances and information.

Chris Gregory
Media Manager