Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our FAQ section. Below you will find a selection
of the questions we get asked most. Simply click the question to reveal the answer.

Because what is being done now is not working, and tweaking the system won't work either. For some of those involved, it's personal. They want to live in such a place, and can't find it anywhere. For others, it's legacy: they want to leave a better world to their grandchildren. While, on one measure, civilisation has done amazing things over the past century, a lot of those miracles have saddled future generations with some very serious problems. Doom merchants tell us to expect a much gloomier future, but our research disagrees. We can use the wealth and technology we have created to build a better way to live locally in a globally-connected world. But this can only happen if someone actually does it.
The role of local government is to give permission and protect the public interest from cost-externalising pecuniary interest. However, at times, it gets locked into an inertia in which its processes no longer support its aspirations. The Council wishes to make Auckland the world's most liveable city, but in the face of projected massive population growth the track is to build terraced housing, infill housing and high-rise apartment dwellings. None of these forms create communities. They are dormitories where people, for the most part, do not know their neighbours. What's missing are the social places. Travel to old Europe, especially in Italy and Spain that have warm climates like Auckland, and you find the focus of life is not in the home in front of a TV or PC, but on public plazas with the kind of tables where people connect face-to-face. The social units are small enough that people get to know each other, and they begin to look after each other (it's human nature at work). To unlock this potential in Auckland, however, requires a Public Private Partnership with a Social Enterprise. No conventional developer is going to try something so different until they know that it will work, and the Council will permit it easily. Thus, the first one must be done as a PPP in a trial context. When it is proven and successful, the Council can add it to its portfolio of development choices that will be taken up by the land-bank companies that currently are holding back because of pipes, roads and permission issues. It should be noted that the MarketTown is not asking for tax or rate concessions from central or local government. Rather it is intended to pay its normal share, but then to significantly lower its demands on the tax/rate dollar so that it becomes a new source of net revenue for Auckland and New Zealand. Auckland has struggled for decades to find new sources of revenue. MarketTowns are intended to be economic engines that pay more rates than they cost in services.
The MarketTown project will be built by what the NZ Department of Internal Affairs calls a Social Enterprise. It is the catalyst. It will literally enable people and communities (in accordance with the purpose statement of the RMA). For simplicity, we refer to this enabling company using a coined term civitas corporation, although, in fact, the legal team expects it will be a combination of tax-paying companies, trusts, cooperatives, etc. The civitas corporation works with the people (the settlers) and the communities (each village) to design and build the MarketTown. Once the construction is complete and the people move in, the Stewards resign as the establishment board and the people elect a new board of directors that makes local policy on local matters. That board starts out with a substantial cash budget and a clear mandate written into a formal constitution whose purpose is to create and support a wealth-creating, private enterprise, tax/rates paying local economy intended to enable people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing, health and safety while protecting and preserving the environment for now and for the foreseeable needs of future generations. 
Yes, we believe it is realistic, practical and doable. Growth in Auckland is projected to outstrip housing. We propose to build self-supporting housing, meaning mixed use zoning with a goal of matching homes to employment. We will propose to Council various approaches to make all housing substantially lower than the current 1:10 multiplier (average annual income $75,000, average house price $750,000). Lower prices, incentives for businesses to move in, lower cost of living, higher quality of life, better schools, safe streets... all point toward success. The Digital Revolution is vanquishing the tyranny of distance. That while we can only be in one place physically, we can be in many places digitally, and even span time in the sense that a broadcast today can be viewed by millions tomorrow or next year. That shift in technology is a game changer; it rewrites all the rules. It makes New Zealand one of the most attractive places in the world to live... if we can create a great town to live in.
No. Some people can't move to a MarketTown because their career requires they commute physically. Other people like living in the suburbs on a quarter-acre section sleeping next to their two cars in the attached garage. It is not meant to be for everyone. However, research finds that it is deemed a desirable lifestyle for a significant number of people - enough to make it work.
No, but it is in the best interest of the country. There will be a number of applicants who already live in New Zealand, especially as the project seeks to build affordable housing. There will be an additional number of applicants who are expatriate New Zealanders who want to return home and find this opportunity feasible and attractive. And there will be a third category of applicants who will need visas to move to New Zealand. It is certainly possible for these applicants to work through the existing system and apply individually, or with the assistance of a licensed immigration consultant. However, this is inefficient as there could be 1,000 qualified families in this latter category of applicant. Also, it is more than just processing the application. The idea of a MarketTown visa is for our embassies and our million overseas Kiwis to identify the world's best and brightest that could make a great contribution to New Zealand, and then to extend a personal invitation from the New Zealand government to those businesses and their owners.
It's a three-stage budget. The first stage will require about US$5-6 million (forgive using a foreign currency, but with the NZ dollar dropping, it's better to base it on the world's reserve currency) and that will need to come from a benefactor or a seed-money limited investor. The second stage probably needs about $70 to $100 million to bridge the gap between application and securitised bonds, but this is very dependent on timing. That funding could come from the applicants. The final stage, when the ground is broken and construction begins is about $2 billion. This comes from the end buyers. Each home will be funded through an individual construction loan that becomes a mortgage when the certificate of occupancy is issued. The MarketTown bundles those mortgages into mortgage-backed securities or securitised bonds that are sold to pension, insurance and sovereign funds looking for stable, long-term investments. The bonds are also backed by the Legacy Fund and the MarketTown serves as a co-signer for each individual mortgage.

It will be a town made of villages. The buildings will, for the most part, be attached, multifloor, similar to the old towns of Europe. To get a sense, travel to the old historic centres in Mediterranean towns in Italy or Spain. The roads are narrower, human-scaled. They were designed before cars, and the ones that work best are car-free. The buildings house homes and offices, shops and other forms of workplaces. The streetscape will have character. Character is a concept that cannot be designed by master planners. It comes from decisions made by the person who will live with the result. Each building reflects the character of the owner. This is not achieved by accident. Rather it is the difference between the development process and the settlement process. By dividing the town into 20 side-by-side villages, small groups of settlers are invited to write the design code for their village. Since each village will have a different attraction - its theme, the codes will evolve differently. Because of the proposed 3D carving system to be used for the surface ornament, the variables in design will mean each village is a different visual experience. One village may look Mediterranean (noting that Auckland has one of the best "Mediterranean" climates in the world) and the next village Avant Garde. It's their village, so it's up to them.
Cost: As they used to say before inflation "that's the $64,000 question". We plan to propose to Council that it agree to a Public Private Partnership where Council contributes permission, and the MarketTown does the work. If Council agrees to take 2 km2 out of its over 4,000 km2 land mass to be allocated for the prototype, we expect to propose to the Council that the raw land price includes no capital gain. This means that if 200 hectares of land costs, for example, $40 million and 4,000 units are built, the average raw land cost per unit to the end buyer would be $10,000 (the cost savings are passed through). That is the first step to closing the gap. Then, we are looking at an advanced German robotic system to manufacture much higher quality buildings than what is today's Kiwi standard... and preliminary numbers suggest at high volume, the cost may be less than half the bespoke cost of Kiwi housing. That further lowers the cost. Some people will want big homes that cost more; others are happy with efficient sizes because their leisure life is on the plazas, the streets and greenbelt, not inside their home. That further lowers costs.

Cost Plus 10/10:  Instead of profits, an additional 20% is levied as an investment, half of which goes into the internal fund, and half is invested in the external fund, which provides the financing to start next generation MarketTowns (and is repaid with a taxable profit). The final cost to the buyer is expected to be substantially lower than the current Auckland market, where the economies of scale create those savings. While costing less, the 20% premium means that not only does the buyer get title to a valuable property, they buy into a community that starts out life with hundreds of millions in cash, and hundreds of millions invested in replication that will pay numerous benefits in the future including profits, trading partners sharing common values, visitation, student exchange, youth opportunity, and home-away-from-home travel opportunity. Note that this 10% external fund is part of the prototype projects only. It is expected that when conventional developers pick up the MarketTown model, they would retain that $200 million or so as their profit.
The answer will depend on how long it takes to attract the buyers and how cooperative the central and local governments are. If the project is divided up into segments that run in parallel (20 villages built at the same time), then it is possible for all construction to be completed in 12 months... let's allow 18 to be safe. Our projections say that it can be done in three years from the time it gets the green light. Do not think of it as a subdivision development, however. This will not be the builder with a ute, dog and cell phone juggling several jobs. It will be more akin to building a major airport or putting on the Beijing Olympics. It will involve one of the top international engineering and logistics companies (not yet selected) retained to ensure on time and on budget.
"Plan for seven generations." The engineering standard for a building in NZ is 50 years. This is the standard for an immature nation, a new nation, before it begins to understand its own permanence. In older civilisations, they began with short-term buildings but eventually worked out that communities last for many generations even as each generation of decision-makers dies. The MarketTown design is based on mature planning, but using advanced computer design/build technology to make the buildings both cost-effective and long lasting. The engineering standard should be closer to 175 years.
  • Design for a Magnitude 9 earthquake. Design the buildings in which the structural units are 3-D modules, not 2D panels.
  • Build non-combustible and sprinkled so fire safety is prevention. Use non-toxic traditional, proven bulk materials, simple but beautiful.
  • Design for drought, for flood, for category 5 cyclones & tornados, for a global population explosion. Design for a more hostile climate, but provide for a better life.
  • Construct the buildings in factories using 3D printing in modules that go up in hours on site. If the scientists are right, and catastrophic sea level rise occurs, the whole town can be elevated or moved to higher ground.

In the RMA, this is called, "the foreseeable needs of future generations. It is done by intent. It is done by design.

No. To the contrary, it is intended to break new ground for the development establishment. Developers, investors and land-bankers basically do what the council allows them to do. It is not in their interest to try something new and different. In contrast, this project is what the NZ Department of Internal Affairs calls a Social Enterprise. The project is intended as a prototype. When complete, the project hopes to hand over to the established firms a new model... more profitable, less risk, higher environmental and social qualities, with a process approved by the Council. The stewards will then look elsewhere in NZ or elsewhere overseas to begin new prototypes. Success for the project is when the "competition" takes over the model and makes it their own.
Use the Contact link to get in touch. When you do get in contact, let us know what you bring to the table. See the To Do section for our priorities at present.