Collective action for an age-friendly Auckland

Tāmaki Tauawhi Kaumātua

With Auckland Council

Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland has the largest population of people aged 65 and older in New Zealand, and, as in many cities around the world, this older segment of the population is growing proportionately faster than any other group.

With an awareness that ageing brings both opportunities and challenges, since 2019 Auckland Council has been developing an ‘age friendly action plan’ to ensure the region’s residents are able to fully and meaningfully participate in all aspects of community life as they age.


of New Zealand’s population has their home in Auckland.


of New Zealand's population will live in Auckland by 2043

By 2033

the number of older Aucklanders (aged 65+) is expected to more than double from 2013 figures.


this proportionate growth is not anticipated in any other broad age group and is unprecedented in New Zealand history.

The problem

The ‘structural ageing’ of Auckland, like other cities around the world, has implications for all areas of life including infrastructure provision, transport, housing, healthcare, recreation, leisure, accessibility and the labour force: issues which require purposeful, long-term planning and system-level solutions.

In 2019, Auckland Council kicked off a community engagement involving more than 3,000 people and a range of organisations to build a deep understanding of what might be done to make Auckland a more age-friendly region. Innovation Unit then used this data to identify key opportunities for system-level collaboration to drive this change.

Last year Auckland Council invited Innovation Unit to take this a step further, working with partners from across the system to turn these opportunities into potential solutions. With a focus on collaboration, an incredible wealth of experience, knowledge and skills in this ‘Design Team,’ and a clear bias to action, participants dived into the work in spite of the complexities posed by ongoing COVID19 restrictions which required workshops to take place remotely using videoconferencing and white-boarding tools.

“We wanted to get to real commitments to tangible actions...” Auckland Council

Our impact

Over three consecutive Wednesdays in October 2020, the Design Team realigned around a shared vision of an age-friendly Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland (developed through the Age Friendly community engagement), prioritised areas to explore, and developed these priorities into early concepts complete with success indicators, next steps, champions, contributors and questions / assumptions which require more exploration. In between workshops, participants tested concepts with stakeholders,and finally committed to working together to bring them to life.

These emergent ideas are of varying degrees of complexity, scale and development, and addressed different aspects of the Age Friendly vision. They range from a new approach to implementation of and accountability for the Age Friendly action plan, intergenerational mentoring, volunteering to aid with the transition to retirement, new approaches to culturally appropriate support which draw on the diversity of Tāmaki Makaurau’s residents, and practical approaches to navigating facilities, the city, and sources of information. Each of the seven concepts attracted multiple drivers and contributors, often in combinations which had not worked together before.

These projects are currently being further developed and actioned by the teams behind them and are expected to be included in the Age Friendly Auckland draft action plan to be released in the coming months.

For some this was an opportunity to develop a completely new concept, and for others it enabled them to take something they were already working on to the next level purely by connecting with the right person. The power of connection was evident throughout, even through a computer screen.