The Goldie Column: Can’t Afford Auckland?

Growing house prices and the general unaffordability of living in Auckland are causing some people to flee to smaller regions such as Northland, but can Northland cope with the growing demand when it already has it’s own problems?

In early September, it was revealed the average house price in Auckland had reached more than $1m.

As a result of this, many people have flocked to other regions in the North Island in order to cash up, putting pressure on other regions to cater for the growing demand for housing.

One of these regions is Northland. According to Quotable Value, the average house price this year in the Kaipara District is $427,199, while a house in the Far North District costs just $365,085.

In order to get these benefits however, people are having to move to much smaller towns.

Towns like Dargaville.

Dargaville is a small town in Northland with a total population of 4,251. Victoria Street is the hub of Dargaville with most of it’s retail stores located here.

Dargaville’s best known for it’s kumara industry, priding itself on being the kumara capital of New Zealand.

Dargaville local Kate Coley, takes great pride in the town she calls home,“It’s quite an open community everyone’s friendly…It’s a really beautiful place to be.

Ana Davis, a radio host on local Dargaville radio station Big River FM, has just recently moved to Dargaville and says that by moving to Dargaville it has changed her perspective of Northland.

“If I did hear about it was for maybe not very positive news. But now that I’m actually here and I’ve lived here for about two and a half months, I’m actually really happy here and I like the community and culture.”

The Northland region itself though has seen better days.

Low incomes and a lack of jobs are being blamed for a rise in crime in the region.

Unemployment at Northland is currently at 8.2%, the highest rate in the country compared to the national average of 5.2%. 85% of Kaitaia are receiving some kind of benefit.

Mental health has also become an issue in Northland, last year the suicide rate in Northland increased by thirty-three percent of the year before.

When asked about why there is such a problem in the Northland region, Coley believes it was due to a lack of resources in the region when it comes to schooling and education.

“Since being up here I’ve noticed there aren’t as many opportunities for younger people to get involved in different jobs and see what’s out there that they can do…Schooling can have quite an effect on all of that” said Coley.

Big River FM Station Manager Anaru Tana however, feels that some of the negative attention the region gets is underserved, “I think it’s wrongly targeted at times…It’s kind of been branded you know the unemployed dope smoking capital of New Zealand which is absolute crap.”

“It’s my home and the home to thousands of people. It’s kind of a bit degrading to be quite honest..It’s a lovely place to live.”

He does agree though that there are some serious problems in the Northland region with these problems caused by the region being neglected by government.

Tana says that more of an emphasis needs to be in the Northland region if it is going to attract more Aucklanders.

“If things are working you will see it when you drive on the street…All I see is nothing’s working. A lot of good people out there doing good work but the problem’s growing.”