A Tale of Two Cities

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One of the hottest conversation topics in pubs and cafes in 2016 is what the future holds for large cities.

The concept of the city is in a state of flux as rising house prices, public transport and sustainability combine to muddy the waters. We know things are changing but not necessarily how or why. There are fewer places in the world where this is more prevalent than London and New Zealand.

In an effort to make sense of this, Kiwi Greens UK teamed up with the New Zealand Planning Institute for the first of our “There and Here” events – a series bringing together experts from New Zealand and the UK to compare how the two societies tackle complex policy issues.
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A wonderful crowd of around 40 people heard from two members of the London Branch of the New Zealand Planning Institute, who talked about what London and cities in NZ could learn from each other.

Take Auckland – 43,000 people per year move there and the council’s target is to build 39,000 homes in the next three years to help tackle “generation rent”.

London, by comparison, is growing by 135,000 each year and has designated Opportunity Areas for housing to help relieve the pressure on the average person to be able to rent, let alone buy.

Affordability was definitely a hot topic!

So what did our planners suggest?  It was put forward that for Auckland to remain a quality and sustainable city under this rapid growth, there’s a need to increase public and active transport along with a shift in mindset to accept denser living. In Auckland, 77 per cent of journeys are made by car, with public transport and cycling combining for just five per cent.

In contrast, more than half of Londoners use public transport, walking or bicycle to get about.

There was also much to say on the Christchurch rebuild, where the Government-led recovery is being transitioned over to local groups this year.  It drew comparisons with the regeneration of Battersea Power Station, as both are examples of areas that are in the process of transition.

There is a lot these cities can teach the other.  So if you’re reading this Sadiq Khan and Lianne Dalziel, take note:

From London to Christchurch:
  • Consideration of “placemaking” before planning consent:  ensures high quality design and places for people. Use planning conditions to secure commitments to parks, community spaces and public realm.
  • Supplementary Planning Guidance:  providing specific guidance rather than overarching blueprints.
  • Sustainable building: Using BREEAM assessments.
From Christchurch to London:
  • People power: consulting with the public to help inform the shape of developments (this resulted in the Margaret Mahy playground)
  • Temporary regeneration during a long development and construction phase: Gap Filler activates spaces for temporary, creative, people-centred purposes. It innovates and empowers citizens in a community.

Wei Yang who sponsored the event also gave her insights on city planning on an international level, having just returned from an international planning conference.  She questioned the absence of technology in planning when it pervades so many other industries to provide sustainable outcomes. She also championed green spaces as one of the most important facets in modern city planning.

A big thumbs up to KarmaCola for providing their fair trade fizz, and to Wei Yang & Partners for sponsoring the event so  thirsty Kiwis could catch up with old friends and new.   Thanks also to our trusty volunteer bakers who ensure our events are always well stocked with afghans, ANZAC biscuits and lamingtons!

We are hoping to hold another event at the end of summer to compare and contrast another topic that our two countries face.  Don’t miss out on our events – like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to this blog to be kept in the loop.

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Smoothies With Shaw

12360046_1061663643865098_7402930493840441457_nIn December, we welcomed Greens co=leader James Shaw to London. He spent an evening filling us in on what’s happening back in New Zealand the party’s plan for the next few years.

In the wake of COP21 it was great to hear his thoughts on the way forward for sustainable energy and also some more personal thoughts.

Thanks for coming out for a great evening!

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How to assemble a barbeque

Back in NZ, a barbecue with a bit of pav is an easy, low-key affair: pop down to the dairy, text your mates, and chuck some sausages on the barbecue.

So when we first conceived of the idea to have a summer event in London, we thought it would be the same! But it’s amazing how many details – from blitzing social media to get bums on seats (well, grass) through to bureaucratic tangles with the location – quickly proved us to have been naive in our assumption.

BadgeHaving somewhat drastically underestimated the work required to organise it, the branch co-convenors Bryce and Megan were feeling much in need of a bit of sunshine and a kiwi tipple by the time the day rolled around. Fortunately, that’s exactly what we got!

London saw fit to provide us with a warm sunny day, and a glass or two of New Zealand wine, provided by the fantastic Sustainable Wines UK, was the perfect accompaniment to the kiwiana cuisine.

We had burgers with beetroot and pineapple, in classic kiwi style, as well as a selection of kiwi desserts: pavlova, feijoa cupcakes and afghans. Kiwi tunes played in the background, and Karma Cola provided us with a selection of delicious (and ethical!) drinks to wash it all down with. About the only thing we lacked was a pohutukawa tree with a tui in it.

We want to thank all those who attended and made the day what it was. The trifecta of good weather, good food and good company is a winning combination!

Cheers to voting!

What do you get10414900_797694263595372_6471173604567432090_n when you mix a dozen homesick kiwis, a drop or two of New Zealand’s finest and an internet connection? A whole lot more people enrolled to vote from London!

As part of our push to get ex-pat New Zealanders engaged in the upcoming election, we hosted our first ever enrolment party last Friday. Originally set to be held in Soho Square, we had to move the party indoors due to an unseasonably rainy summers’ day. But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Kiwis who showed up to munch down Marmite Sandwiches and sip Kiwi summer ale.

Of course, the real purpose of the event was to help people in updating their enrolment details. This can be a daunting thing to do by yourself and one of the main reasons Kiwis give us for not voting from the UK is that they don’t have enough information about how to do this.

One of our key aims this year has been to simplify the process for our compatriots who live in the UK. We’ve set up an online voting guide at http://www.votefornz.com and are working on a massive online campaign to coincide with the start of the overseas voting period on September 3.

The first step is to make sure you’re registered and your details are up to date. Once you’ve done that, you can vote by digital upload, post, fax or in person at the NZ High Commission in the West End.

We’re hoping to run at least one more enrolment party before the election so keep reading this blog and subscribe to our Facebook Page to keep up to date with what’s happening. This Saturday we’ll be at the Black Lion pub in Hammersmith meeting Kiwis and having fun at their Kiwi Festival. And we’ve also got an extra-special event planned for the Bledisloe Cup game on August 147631_797694113595387_1587216447747161174_n6.