NZPI Chair Meets Planning Presidents Abroad

17 May 2018

ABOVE PHOTO: Brendan Nelson (PIA President), Cynthia Bowen (APA President), Karyn Sinclair (NZPI Chair), Dy Currie (CAP President)

I had the pleasure of attending the Planning Institute of Australia Congress in Perth last week, with David Curtis (NZPI CEO), Joel Cayford (NZPI Senior Policy Advisor) and Bryce Julyan (NZPI Former Chair). Over the past three years Bryce has established strong relationships with both PIA and the Commonwealth Association of Planners which we are now embedding into the NZPI National Office and the new Board. Bryce attended in part to help with the introductions. The NZPI contingent had dinner with the Board on our first night which was very informal, and an easy way to get to know several of the Board members and PIA staff.

David and I attended the PIA Board meeting which includes representatives from all states and a Young Planner representative. The commonality of issues struck me almost immediately for both the profession (profile and relevance at central government being one) and for communities and planning challenges (the issue of housing affordability is certainly not unique to New Zealand). The Board meeting also highlighted some opportunities the NZPI Board could adopt to ensure that we maintain our focus on the strategic issues.

One of the PIA highlights was the opening function and awards presentation which was held at the Optus Stadium, which has only been open since December 2017. The stadium has a capacity of 60000, the attendees occupied just one small balcony. The Awards ceremony was a great chance to see what Australian planners are working on. They also have awards for Young Planner and Planner of the year which is a remarkable recognition from peers.

The conference itself had a couple of highlights for me, one being a presentation from two presenters from Copenhagenize talking about the provision of cycle facilities in various cities around the world, including in Russia! Another highlight was Leyla Acaroglu who was talking about disruption by design (the Disruptive Design Method), she was a very energetic speaker and worth checking out Another key takeout was a great panel discussion entitled Power of the Future – Citizen Utilities: Disruptive innovation of distributed solar and storage. This was led by one of the Young Planner’s which is a great way to show case the profession’s future!

We were invited to have dinner with the PIA Fellows and guest speakers, a new initiative of PIA’s to celebrate their most lauded members. PIA has a good number of Fellows and it was a great evening, including the presentation of an Honorary Fellow to Bryce Julyan – a wonderful recognition of his efforts to lift the NZPI internationally over recent years. Cynthia Bowen, the President of the American Association of Planners and I answered a few questions about our views on planning, which reinforced my view of the common interests we have as planners across the globe.

The social highlight of the Congress was the Gala Dinner, which was a novelty to Cynthia – apparently the APA doesn’t have a Gala Dinner. I will let the photos speak for themselves!

Karyn Sinclair
NZPI Chair