Opinion: Better Together: Quality public investment leads to quality private investment

Nicky Harrison, Development Manager at Eke Panuku Development Auckland shares her view on the marriage between public and private sector development.

After 25 fruitful years of legal advisory mahi in the property sector, I recently moved to Eke Panuku Development Auckland as a development manager. Having had the privilege of supporting many private developers, mana whenua entities and government agencies over the years on brownfield and greenfield developments, I am keenly aware of the quality outcomes for our communities, end-purchasers and end-users that are achieved when the private sector successfully partners with the public sector on land development design and delivery.

I am also aware that sometimes, these private / public sector land development deals can feel a little like a square peg attempting a round hole. Crown and Local Government entities have key financial and non-financial outcomes and procurement rules they need to deliver on when dealing with public assets and public funds. At times these outcomes may not perfectly align with the needs of the private sector. There can also be information gaps about process which can create uncertainty, risk-pricing, and delays. Where the parties can collaborate and communicate effectively, the public and private sector can create amazing outcomes for our communities and achieve the necessary return on investment.

On behalf of Auckland Council, Eke Panuku will take under-utilised council sites and prepare them for commercial development. Planners, architects, engineers, landscape designers, mana whenua and place makers help to formulate the vision. And local boards work collaboratively with Eke Panuku to ensure any urban regeneration best meet the needs of the local community. This is adjusted to fit responsibly with the public purse and, if it is good enough to make it through the checks and balances, the project begins. Communities and stakeholders are continuously consulted to ensure the product, once conceived will be embraced by the majority. Once a site is catalysed in this way the opportunity for the private sector is progressed.

This often means we have public realm projects led by Eke Panuku being implemented on sites contiguous with private sector developments. Brownfields development is complex already, so developing neighbouring sites concurrently within a larger, evolving programme of works requires a high level of collaboration and communication. Hence the need for solid private sector / public sector partnerships. As with any relationship, taking the time to understand the perspective and objectives of the other is of key importance to making things work.

I’m privileged to be supporting North Wharf and Northcote Central as part of my new role.

Eke Panuku considers North Wharf at Wynyard Quarter to be a catalyst project. It was designed and curated strategically to set the standard for quality development and is now a thriving area of the city centre and held up as such.

There are similar bold plans for Northcote. Here we celebrate Te Ara Awataha, a decade-long community project focused on daylighting the historic Awataha Stream. As part of the broader urban regeneration of Northcote, ngā Iwi Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau (Mana Whenua), community and public sector partnerships have enabled a quality stormwater and public, green space / walking and cycling connection through the town centre. This collaboration and investment mean homes have now been built in an area that was once a flood plain.

For Northcote Central, the town centre had been subdivided and sold over the course of many years into piecemeal ownership. Eke Panuku, after establishing the community vision with key stakeholders then utilised the Public Works Act to enable contiguous ownership and collapse the historic ground leases. That contiguous freehold ownership has enabled master planning for the neighbourhood which will then be delivered by the private sector. This would have been an impossibility without public sector intervention. Based on more than a decade of legacy planning and community input the needs of the current (and future) community members and other stakeholders are reflected in the planning and will be cemented in the private sector development agreement.

The private sector developers and mana whenua entities I have worked with over the years are all enthusiastic about quality outcomes for communities. Those aspirations must fit with their obligations to investors, financiers and beneficiaries. When the private sector works in partnership with public sector entities those aspirations are mandated BAU. When we successfully work together, the outcomes speak for themselves. For those that have not embarked on such a journey, yes, it involves learning and communication and a level of flexibility and adaptation, but we achieve better land development and community outcomes together. 

If it takes a village to raise a child, what does it take to raise a city?

Nicky Harrison

Development Manager
Eke Panuku Development Auckland

Nicky is a highly experienced property professional who takes a collaborative outcomes-based approach when supporting projects and addressing challenges. An excellent coach and mentor, Nicky continuously strives to be a great example of inspirational leadership and professionalism. Nicky is widely connected and respected within the New Zealand property sector and regularly volunteers her time and expertise to support leading industry organisations.

Nicky’s mahi has included some of New Zealand’s largest and most complex local authority, Crown and private sector projects and the creation of multiple examples of genuine engagement with iwi in urban development projects, empowering mana whenua entities in this space. Her supportive and caring approach to leadership and her focus on outcomes ensure value is harvested from all voices and perspectives. Nicky’s ability to build trusted relationships means she can successfully lead teams and guide stakeholders through sensitive and contentious issues.

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