The Waikato region’s population is set to grow by about 40 per cent between 2013 and 2063 to more than 600,000, a gain of approximately 175,000 people over 50 years.
The projections, outlined in a new report to today’s Waikato Regional Council strategy and policy committee meeting, come as the national population is in a period of “rapid change”.
The report on the council-commissioned Waikato Population Projections study by the University of Waikato said the region’s people would be increasingly elderly. The university’s National Institute of Demograhic and Environmental Analysis found much of the growth in regional numbers would come in urban populations and be centred mainly on Hamilton, and Waikato and Waipa districts.
The projections would mean Hamilton increasing its share of the region’s population from about 35 per cent to almost 44 per cent over the 50 years.
Demographic changes would throw up a range of challenges around:
- responding to the needs and opportunities of an ageing population
- declining populations in some areas
- leveraging off Auckland’s growth
- promoting the region as an attractive place to live and work.
Population growth generally would naturally increase demand for a range of services and infrastructure, particularly transport systems and public services, such as for health, social services and education.
“This will require a significant investment and co-ordinated planning,” the report said.
There would also be more pressure on limited resources such as water and high quality soil, particularly in and around Hamilton, while housing costs would rise in high demand areas.
But the report warned that - apart from Hamilton, and Waikato, Waipa and Matamata-Piako districts - there would be decline in population in other areas up till 2063.
“In areas of declining (and ageing) population in rural towns and communities it will be increasingly difficult to provide adequate infrastructure and services at an affordable cost to the ratepayers.”
The report said that to keep young people in the region it would be important to invest in youth to ensure they have the right skills and to provide attractive work opportunities.
The council’s principal strategic adviser Beat Huser said the information would play a key role in coordinated and integrated planning by regional, city and district councils in the region.
“Knowing and understanding how and where demographic changes occur will be critical when it comes to meeting the needs of our future communities,” Dr Huser said.
The data in the Waikato Population Projections study, which will be used in a wide range of planning documents, is due to be updated in 2019.
The study is available at http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/TR201528/