Urban growth partnerships

Under the Urban Growth Agenda (UGA), central government is expected to partner with local governments and iwi to ensure that government investment in infrastructure is aligned to help deliver connected, thriving and sustainable urban communities.

Urban growth partnerships formalise these relationships between the Crown, local government, iwi and local communities to deliver the UGA objectives.

Current partnerships are focused on regions that are experiencing significant growth pressures and want to work with central government to help address the challenges and opportunities from that growth.

An important aspect of the Urban Growth Partnerships is spatial planning, a long-term and integrated approach to land use and infrastructure planning. In August 2020, Cabinet endorsed the strategic priorities for joint spatial plans for the Hamilton-Waikato and Tauranga-Western Bay of Plenty metropolitan areas and the Queenstown Lakes area.

Who is involved? 

A number of central government agencies are involved, including:

Current partnerships

The UGA has initially focused on two partnerships: Auckland and the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor. Cabinet recently endorsed an expanded partnership in Tauranga-Western Bay of Plenty.


The Auckland Housing and Urban Growth Joint Programme is a collaboration between Auckland Council and the Government to deliver shared housing and urban growth priorities in New Zealand’s largest urban centre. The programme covers both spatial priorities (e.g. development opportunities arising from the City Rail Link, the City Centre to Mangere Light Rail Transit projects, Manukau centre and Drury) and policy priorities, such as how to deliver more affordable housing and quality intensification. A number of other government agencies are working alongside HUD and the Auckland Council in this partnership.

Hamilton - Auckland Corridor

The Hamilton-Auckland Corridor (H2A) is the first partnership in New Zealand to bring two regions, mana whenua, central and local government together to integrate and coordinate land use, network and social infrastructure planning and delivery. The Corridor connects two of New Zealand’s fastest-growing cities through an area of high natural and cultural importance and value. There is significant housing and employment growth potential at either end of the Corridor. This project is now being implemented by the Future Proof | Te Tau Tiitoki governance group.

Tauranga - Western Bay of Plenty

The Western Bay of Plenty requires a fundamentally different approach to managing urban growth. The combination of multiple land use constraints and an over-reliance on private mobility means that the current growth model is increasingly unaffordable, unproductive and environmentally unsustainable. In August 2020, the Crown joined the region’s existing and longstanding Smart Growth partnership

Partnerships in development

Urban growth partnerships between the Government, local government and iwi are also in development or discussion in four other major urban centres:

Wellington-Horowhenua Region

This emerging partnership is a collaborative approach to addressing the region’s housing and urban development issues, with a focus on aligned investment. Ten local authorities in Wellington-Wairarapa-Horowhenua, a number of iwi groups with facilitation and support from central government agencies have developed a full draft Wellington Regional Growth Framework, including a high-level spatial plan and associated programme of initiatives. With focus on mode shift, access and housing affordability and exploring key development areas to understand how new government tools may be applied in these areas.

Queenstown Lakes

The Queenstown partnership is between Queenstown Lakes District Council, Kāi Tahu, and the Government. The purpose of the partnership is to manage growing tourism and housing pressures and to develop a long-term strategy and investment plan for the future development of the area that improves community wellbeing, maintains a world-class visitor experience and protects the environment.

Greater Christchurch

The Greater Christchurch Partnership is creating a new plan for their sub-region with everyone that has an interest in the area. Greater Christchurch 2050 will describe the kind of place they want for future generations, and the actions we need to take over the next 30 years to make it happen. This work will culminate in a plan that is real and achievable from the partner organisations (including Central Government) and a possible urban growth partnership.

Northland-Auckland Corridor

Officials are currently exploring a possible urban growth partnership for the dynamic corridor that stretches from the Bay of Islands through Whangārei, Ruakaka, Wellsford-Mangawhai to Warkworth. Based on the Hamilton-Auckland corridor model, this could see an enduring partnership between local councils, central government and iwi to manage the high level of current and predicted urban growth, including spatial alignment around the significant current rail and roading improvements.

The concept is being explored further with mana whenua and local authorities, including how it may fit with other existing housing, economic and social development initiatives and partnerships.

Related document: Waka Kotahi’s Auckland to Whangarei Corridor Management Plan [PDF, 15.5MB]. 

Published: June 3, 2021