Introducing the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA)

Established in 2011, UNISA is a collaboration between Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Councils, Auckland Council, Whangarei District Council and Hamilton and Tauranga City Councils. UNISA responds to and manages a range of inter-regional and inter-metropolitan issues. Mayors and Chairs from the respective regions make up the alliance.

Why do we need UNISA?

The Upper North Island is critical to the success of New Zealand. It supports 53 per cent of the national population and generates 55 per cent of the country’s GDP. Growth here has increased more rapidly than for the rest of the country and that’s likely to continue. Managing growth to the benefit of residents and all New Zealanders requires collaboration.

What does UNISA do?

Many of the issues within the Upper North Island are not defined by local government boundaries and cannot be satisfactorily addressed by individual Councils working in isolation. By working collaboratively the Upper North Island will be well placed to proactively plan for future challenges and we will have a stronger voice when advocating for change. The seven councils have an agreement in place which confirms their commitment to understanding and tackling these inter-regional challenges.

The UNISA Value Proposition outlines a strategic framework setting out the important issues that we should be working together to address.

Our people
  • Understanding movement patterns and the reasons for migration.
  • Planning proactively for our aging population and areas of decline and growth. Better understand the relationships between population change and demand for housing.
Our economy
  • Acknowledging and understanding the interdependencies between our regions and the rest of New Zealand.
  • A focused dialogue with central government around the efficiency of our economy and critical issues such as labour demand and infrastructure planning.
Our infrastructure
  • Support and integrated approach to transport that contributes to social and economic prosperity.
  • Manage existing pressures on our infrastructure networks and plan for future growth.
Our environment
  • Identify environmental issues of common interest and understand how collaboration can help manage these issues

What has UNISA achieved?

UNISA has commissioned a number of projects since being established:

1. Independent Port Study 2012

Looked at the supply and demand for ports and port-related infrastructure in the Upper North Island.

This informed Auckland Council’s decisions about the provision of port facilities in its city and fed into subsequent studies including the Auckland Council’s Port Future Study 2016.

2. Upper North Island Freight Story 2013

Considered one of UNISA’s biggest success stories and an example of the partnership value of UNISA, this collaborative project with the New Zealand Transport Agency, KiwiRail and Auckland Transport led to better land use and transport planning. It provided an evidence base for sharing with local

government, industry, operator and port partners and identified priority transport networks and roads for investment purposes.

3. Industrial Land Demand 2015

Study sought to understand how industrial land provision in the Upper North Island is meeting industry needs and how investment decisions, industrial land allocation and supply can be optimised.

A methodology/tool was developed and adopted for use by all member councils, identifying industrial land and how much is needed.

4. Tourism

This work identified areas in which UNISA could add value to the tourism sector in the Upper North Island and found areas where collaboration and joint leverage could improve the functioning in the Upper North Island. It led to the Australia Market Tourism NZ joint venture campaign.

5. Upper North Island Key Sector Trends to 2015 and Labour Demand to 2020

Identified sectors that operate at a scale and issues relating to labour skills and/or shortages in these sectors to 2020.

6. Clean Hull Plan (Initially the Interregional Marine Pest Pathway Management Plan)

Developed as an option to restrict the spread of marine pests between the Upper North Island. It makes rules simpler and easier to enforce, replacing myriad rules with one single consistent standard across the Upper North Island. This is now being progressed as a National Pathway Management Plan.


Share this page


Has this page been helpful?
Thanks for your feedback.

Last updated 29 May 2024