Future-proofing Queenstown have your say


As well as business boffins, ordinary members of Queenstown’s community are welcome at a crystal ball-gazing “Economic Future” forum tomorrow afternoon (Thursday).

“Absolutely everyone is invited,” Chamber of Commerce boss Ann Lockhart says.

Along with Queenstown Lakes District Council and Destination Queenstown, the chamber is running the forum at the Events Centre from 4-6pm.

Rather than profit ratios, bottom lines and occupancy rates, ordinary Ma and Pa attendees will want to know what’s being done to improve everyday life in the Wakatipu.

As local firms discovered during the 2000-07 boom, you can’t grow a business if you can’t get good, stable staff – and keep them.

There are several gnarly old nasties that have haunted the Wakatipu for decades:

• HOUSE PRICES: Will our property prices ever match our average incomes – or vice-versa? According to finance website interest.co.nz, we’ve got the worst house price-to-income multiple in the country at 7.16, compared with 4.74 nationally. Our median house price is $515,000 (nationally $365,000) compared with our median household income of $71,880 (nationally $77,022).

• RENTS: According to the 2006 census, 37 per cent of local households rent their homes – and those rents are sky-high. Latest figures from the Department of Building & Housing show a two-bedroom Wakatipu flat costs $297 weekly (national average $262) and a three-bedroom house $396 (nationally $336).

• INCOME: We’re a little bit ‘richer’ than the rest of Godzone – but only a tad. The 2006 census showed 42 per cent of us earned under $30,000 gross per annum (nationally 53 per cent).

• SCHOOLING: According to QLDC’s 2008 survey, 63 per cent of families were satisfied with primary schools and 72 per cent with secondary schools. Both percentages were falls on previous surveys, QLDC reported, adding they were “of particular concern”.

• CHILDCARE: More Queenstown families were dissatisfied in 2008 than satisfied with local childcare, QLDC found, but the rating is thought to have improved since.

• HEALTHCARE: This hoariest of old chestnuts has had locals pulling their hair out for decades – and the situation is no better now, with the future of Lakes District Hospital up in the air. There’s a Southern District Health Board proposal to part-privatise LDH and a separate move to hand it over to a local community trust. If this latter option pans out, the big question will be how to stiff-arm SDHB for sufficient funding to run the hospital properly.