Albany, New Zealand
A drawing (looking from the northwest) of how the Albany Town Centre could theoretically be built up if all development were carried out to the maximum allowed around 2006
Location of Albany in Auckland.
|Local authority||Auckland Council|
|Dairy Flat||Okura||Long Bay|
15 kilometres (9 mi) northwest of the Auckland city centre. The suburb is in the Albany ward, one of the thirteen administrative divisions of Auckland Council. One of the city's newest suburbs, it was until relatively recently a town in its own right, and still has a feeling of not being truly a part of the city, which lies predominantly to the southeast of it. Much of the land to the north of Albany is still semi-rural.
The Māori name for the area was Okahukura (literally, 'place of rainbows' or 'place of butterflies'). The town was originally known as Lucas Creek. By 1890 it was a fruit-growing area and in that year it was renamed 'Albany' after the fruit-growing district called 'Albany' in Australia, pronounced with a short 'a' as in Albert. The name Albany derives from Alba (Gaelic for Scotland) and its Latinisation.
In 2005, there were plans to turn a major swath of Albany into a planned mini-urban centre, described as a "happy mix of businesses, hotels, shops, apartments, and entertainment (including) an environment of parks and lakes and of tree-lined streets, paths and cycleways linking to the new park-and-ride bus station and the rapid-busway lanes along the Northern Motorway to downtown Auckland", according to a newspaper report. It would be home to 10,000 people. Authorities wanted sound-proofed apartments against outside noise. Initial plans called for hotels, library, municipal swimming pool as well as the headquarters for the North Shore City Council. In some respects, development has proceeded accordingly, but the 2008–09 economic downturn has blunted some of this activity.
Albany, comprising the statistical areas of Albany Heights, Albany Central, Albany West and Albany South, had a population of 9,894 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 1,644 people (19.9%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 2,649 people (36.6%) since the 2006 census. There were 3,240 households. There were 4,839 males and 5,055 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.96 males per female, with 1,644 people (16.6%) aged under 15 years, 2,436 (24.6%) aged 15 to 29, 4,416 (44.6%) aged 30 to 64, and 1,401 (14.2%) aged 65 or older.
Ethnicities were 52.2% European/Pākehā, 3.7% Māori, 1.5% Pacific peoples, 42.9% Asian, and 4.8% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).
The proportion of people born overseas was 57.6%, compared with 27.1% nationally.
Although some people objected to giving their religion, 50.7% had no religion, 34.8% were Christian, and 10.1% had other religions.
Of those at least 15 years old, 2,706 (32.8%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 738 (8.9%) people had no formal qualifications. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 3,741 (45.3%) people were employed full-time, 1,203 (14.6%) were part-time, and 312 (3.8%) were unemployed.
Retail and commercial activity
Albany has become, in some respects, a substantial shopping and retail zone within the northwestern Auckland area.
The Albany Town Centre area is fast growing in terms of its population and the development of the built environment, following planning decisions and land sales made by central and local governments in the 1980s and 1990s. Through the 1990s industrial and retail areas were rapidly produced, predominantly owned and occupied by local and foreign corporate capital.
Westfield Albany, a major shopping centre, opened in the 1990s. It was expanded in 2007 to cover 53,326 m2, with 2400 carparks and about 140 retailers including Farmers, Kmart, New World and JB Hi-Fi.
There has been development of a substantial retail project anchored by a 10,000 square metre Mega Mitre 10 store on Oteha Valley Road, across from the North Harbour Stadium, run by Symphony Projects Management.
Albany has been the site of a $500 million so-called Super City showcase development project. Plans in 2006 featured a 200-room hotel, apartment complex with three 30-storey towers, and up to 15 office blocks rising 10 levels high. But in the economic downturn of 2008–09, the project was in dire straits; one report suggested up to 350 investors (many elderly) risked losing up to $20 million.
A large furniture store opened in May 2009 creating up to 30 jobs. High tech firms such as Garmin, a firm specializing in satellite navigation and communications technology, has a showroom in Albany.
Residential real estate
Considerable housing development has also taken place since the early 1990s, which has been facilitated by the extension of the Northern Motorway through the area. There are upscale properties; one large property (318 sq m) on 2ha of land, with a six-bedroom three-bathroom five-car garage house with a pool and solar-powered stable for horses including a "hoof soaking path" cost approximately $1.5 million in 2006. In 2005, the rent for a two bedroom apartment (part of a four bedroom house with a two car garage) was $300 per week.
Albany has one of the Auckland Region's newest sports facilities, North Harbour Stadium. It draws 25,000 spectators to games and is home to North Harbour rugby team in the ITM Cup and occasionally hosts Super 15 matches of the Blues. It was also a stadium used in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Albany has a gymnasium where New Zealand taekwondo Olympic representatives Logan Campbell and Robin Cheong trained in 2008 under the guidance of their coach Grandmaster Jin Keun Oh.  It has a tennis park. Rugby teams practice regularly.
The North Harbour BMX club has a race track at Bush Road, Albany where many New Zealand reps have trained and raced.
The North Shore City council expanded Albany's parkland; in 2007, it paid $3 million for new land totalling 7,000 square metres (75,347 sq ft). There was approximately 1,200 ha (2,965 acres) of parkland across the city. Kell Park reserve next to the new Albany Village Library was known for its free-range Bantam chicken population and pirate ship flying fox playground.
A Council notice stated: "It is prohibited to abandon chickens or to uplift them from this area." It also listed chicken "re-home" options. The city has traditionally allowed chickens to roam free; according to one newspaper report, "chickens are undeniably something of a traditional presence in Albany ... Poultry have been roaming free there for more than 30 years, acquiring an iconic status and helping to attract visitors while inspiring a bronze rooster statue and a logo that's proudly emblazoned on local lamp posts." But in 2008 the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals objected, causing controversy. There were health issues as well, with bird droppings on playgrounds and seats and picnic areas and incidents of birds being run over by vehicles. But when North Shore City Council officers were ordered to shoot chickens, it caused controversy including an outburst from Auckland City Mayor John Banks, saying the shootings were "an act of wanton destruction and an animal rights outrage." In 2008, while Albany village continues to have a rooster on its logo, the free-roaming chicken population is no more, although there was talk of a managed population at Kell Park.
Albany Senior High School opened in 2009 for year 11–13 students. Due to delays in completing the Senior campus, the Senior High School initially shared the Albany Junior High School site. There was controversy about cost overruns when Albany Senior High school was under construction in 2008. The new building opened in 2009 to serve 1400 persons. It has a roll of 928.
All schools are coeducational. The rolls are as of March 2020.
Albany contains the northern campus of Massey University. It offers 70 majors plus specialised programmes including Mathematics and Information Sciences, Fundamental Sciences, Food Technology, Engineering, Design, Jazz, Social Sciences, Business, Philosophy and Education. The school has three areas: East Precinct off State Highway 17; Oteha Rohe, off the Albany Highway; Albany Village Precinct off Kell Drive and State Highway 17, where the Schools of Engineering, Design and Psychology are. It has a campus shuttle bus between the three campuses leaving every 40 to 45 minutes. There are bus routes to Albany.
The former Centrepoint commune was on farmland near the town centre. After Bert Potter, its founder and leader, was imprisoned on drug and sex abuse charges in 1992, it declined and in 2000 it closed. It was replaced by the Kahikatea Eco-Village and Art-Space. It has been converted into a research centre for natural medicine, offering courses in aromatherapy, nutrition, naturopathy, herbalism, yoga and ayurvedic medicine.
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