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Urban parks and city liveability centre stage at Auckland conference
The impact of intensive housing, technology and population change on New Zealand’s parkland will be discussed at the national ‘Green Pavlova’ conference beginning in Auckland as of Wednesday 17th June.
The three-day New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) conference, hosted at the Aotea Centre, is the premier event for park managers, consultants, community planners and other decision makers in the parks and open spaces sector.
NZRA Chief Executive Andrew Leslie said the event comes at a time of critical importance, particularly considering recent debate about selling off green space in Auckland to make way for housing developments.
Leslie explained “this conference is timely given the increasing strain councils are under to balance fiscal constraints and housing requirements with the key benefits provided by parks and open spaces.
“These spaces are not just ‘nice to have’. They should be considered a core service due to the benefits they provide in health, improving quality of life, and making our cities and towns more desirable places to live.”
According to a recent report released by NZRA benchmarking project Yardstick, New Zealand councils are investing less in parks and open spaces than they have in the past.
The report found that New Zealand councils spent an average of $76,300 per 1,000 residents on parks and open spaces direct operational costs in 2014, compared to $93,700 in 2010.
Leslie said the drop in spending was a concern if it meant there would be a corresponding decline in the level of service, stating "internationally, recognition of the social, health and economic benefits parks and open spaces provide is rapidly growing. If councils wish to deliver these benefits to their communities, they must prioritise them in their financial planning.”
Leslie said recent studies, including Sport NZ’s Active New Zealand Survey 2013-2014, showed increasing demand for recreation opportunities, and parks and open spaces were a key environment for this.
The Active New Zealand Survey 2013-2014 found 80.1% of New Zealand adults who participate in recreation take part in their chosen activity in natural environments, and 50.3% participate in a park within a town or city.
Leslie added "the statistics show that there is demand for parks for recreation. Councils need to ask themselves if they are investing sufficiently to ensure the recreation demand of their communities is being met."
Green Pavlova is expected to attract a crowd of more than 160 professionals involved in delivering parks and recreation spaces.
Topics being discussed include balancing scientific, recreational and economic concerns, volunteer management, health and safety, conservation, education, techniques to combat lifestyle diseases, and the importance of parks and gardens in urban design.
High profile speakers at the conference include champion of city liveability Ian Shears, whose contributions in the realm of urban landscapes and green infrastructure have enabled Melbourne to win the title of World’s Most Liveable City for three years running.
Auckland Council’s Manager Local and Sports Parks Mark Bowater will relate how the Supercity’s recent growth and amalgamation of councils has enabled the city to tackle sports field capacity issues, and Chair of the Tamaki, Hauraki, and Marutuahu iwi collectives Paul Majurey will speak about the co-governance and co-management of Tamaki Makaurau and the city’s volcanic cones.
Sir Gordon Tietjens of New Zealand Rugby Sevens fame will speak on leadership, while Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley will also feature, providing research on how population changes will affect our parks and open spaces in the ‘new’ New Zealand.
The conference will also feature the annual Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year Competition.
Click here for further information on the 2015 Green Pavlova conference.
Main image shows Auckland's Mt Eden.
11th March 2015 - NEW ZEALAND PARK AGENCIES SET STRATEGIC DIRECTION
21st December 2014 - NZRA HIGHLIGHTS THE VALUE OF COUNCIL RECREATION INVESTMENT
5th October 2013 - XYST CONSULTANCY WELCOMES PAUL WILSON AND ANNOUCES EXPANSION INTO AUSTRALIA
27th July 2012 - REPORT HIGHLIGHTS GROWING IMPORTANCE OF URBAN GREEN SPACE
10th May 2011 - PARKS ESSENTIAL FOR HUMAN HEALTH
16th April 2010 - PARKS A KEY TO PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
27th June 2008 - PARKS FORUM HIGHLIGHTS VALUE OF PARKS
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