Creating Futures

Reference Scenario

Key Assumptions in Reference Scenario

The Reference Scenario is set up in WISE V1.5 to represent the modelled projections of population and economic growth for the Region and the current policies and plans that influence growth and land use development. Establishing this Reference set up required a number of assumptions to be made. Some of the key assumptions made in the Reference Scenario are:

An overview of the key assumptions used in the WISE 1.5 Reference Scenario is available:  >>See Document


Outcomes of the Reference Scenario

Population change

The regional population is projected to grow by 23% by 2031 (up from 424,740 in 2013 to 522,032 in 2031) and could grow a further 18% by 2061 (600,026 people).

The regional story for projected population change can be told as three different outcomes:

-        Firstly, areas of strong growth. Most of the growth occurs in Hamilton city (52% of regional growth by 2031), followed by Waikato (23% of regional growth by 2031) and Waipa (15% of regional growth by 2031) Districts. These districts continue to show good population growth out to 2061 driven by net inward migration and natural increase (births – deaths).  These major growth areas are in the Future Proof councils. With growth focused around existing residential centres and the northern corridor, particularly close to the northern boundary.

-        The second story is of low to modest growth initially, out to late 2040’s followed by population decline from then on. This outcome is projected to occur in Thames Coromandel, Hauraki and Otorohanga districts, and to a lesser extent Taupo district. This is primarily as a result of some initial natural growth and/or net inward migration but over time the proportion of older population reduces natural grow into negative and net inward migration also becomes less or negative.

-        The third population story is of an initially gradual decline in district population until mid-2030’s after which the rate of population decline increases. This outcome is projected to occur in South Waikato and Waitomo districts. This is driven by ongoing net outward migration (people moving away for work or further education) and increasing negative natural increase (births – deaths) as population ages. 

Economic Growth

The story for projected economic growth is driven strongly by associated population growth and household consumption as well as projected increases in economic performance for key sectors. To achieve this growth there is a significant projected increase in future energy demand to support added value and employment outcomes. Household consumption is also projected to grow at a rate higher than population.


Land Use Change

The culmination of the projected population and economic growth demands drives many of the main land use changes that could occur across the Region in this “Reference” future. The projected changes are significant for urban, industrial and rural land uses. They show a marked increase in more intensive residential land use (medium-high density residential land use), primarily within Hamilton City, and a lower increase in lifestyle land use relative to population growth. The area required for commercial and manufacturing land use increases in accordance with increases in Added Value and demand from population growth. For rural land uses there is only a minor net increase in dairying area (although some is lost around urban areas to residential and industrial land), an increase in forestry is expected as a reflection of increased policy in restrictions for land use in Waikato catchment. This increase came primarily from existing sheep and beef land use, but approximately 8,000ha of indigenous vegetation could also change land use, if left unprotected, as a result of high demand from productive land uses.