Advocate Article


Spatial and temporal concepts as to what a city is can provide endless and ever-changing debate. Cities have always been a gathering of people and a space for culture, society and civilization.   Sometimes it is obvious the place you are in is a city and in others case not quite so obvious.   While not a particularly well-travelled person, I have been fortunate enough to visit some large densely populated urban centres in Asia and South America.  When visiting these places it is obvious you are in a city.  Later this year the slightly less obvious Whangarei celebrates 50 years as a city which is certainly worth is thinking about what this actually means – if anything.

In its crudest sense we assign the status of city to urban centres of a certain population.   Cities are an economic entity, a means of organising populations efficiently; a place where jobs are and where there is a market for commerce.  In the1900 10% of the world’s population lived in cities, currently it about 55% and by 2350 it may be as high as 75%.  So if we are fast becoming urban creatures, does this change, accompanied by advancements in technology impact of the relevance of being a city.   I guess they are still relevant because the convergence of people should offer people the opportunity to do what the want and fulfil their potential and in doing so create an environment that is both collaborative and participative.

Being a city adds to our sense of place, acts as an attractant for people and economic activity, and lends to our regional identity.  Whangarei has changed incredibly in the last 50 years, as well as an increased and more diverse population we have greatly improved infrastructure and community facilities.  Whangarei is still growing and while growth in itself will not lead to a sustainable future community, a city and district that can attract growth while several others around New Zealand are in decline is in itself a positive.

In this sense Whangarei being a city is relevant today as it was 50 years ago.  Reading past articles from 50 years ago celebrating Whangarei becoming a city gave a sense of the place, community, people and commerce of the time.  These articles also gave a sense of the opportunity and potential that existed within Whangarei; all things which are equally as important today as they were in 1964.



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