City centre beats the blues with City of Colour

Last Updated : 12 May 2022
City Of Colour Underbelly By Hanna Shim And Ruby White Resize

Polished and ready to welcome returning Aucklanders, the city centre will stage City of Colour over the next three weeks - from 6 to 22 May.

Ribbons of colour will drape from a canopy suspended above Vulcan Lane, a flock of flamingos will dance on the roof of the City Rail Link information centre where Elliott Street meets Victoria Street, temporary lighting installation Te Maharatanga o Ngā Wai – Te Wai Horotiu on the corner of Tāmaki Pataka Kōrero / Central City Library will remind us to remember our waterways and a projection of waves will illuminate the overbridge on Karangahape Road.

Co-curated by award-winning designer Angus Muir and Barbara Holloway of Auckland Council, more than 50 light and art installations will colour-up the Viaduct Harbour, Silo Park, Britomart, Commercial Bay, Te Komititanga, Vulcan Lane, High Street district, Queen Street and many more city spaces day and night.

City of Colour will also see city landmarks and buildings light up - from the SkyTower, The Civic, Vector Lights on the Harbour Bridge, PWC Tower and the Auckland Town Hall to Te Ara I Whiti / The Lightpath.

Mayor Phil Goff says, “City of Colour will both light up our city and help kickstart the city centre’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. COVID-19 has put us all under pressure, but it has been particularly difficult for businesses located downtown.

“The displays are designed to draw people into the city to experience and enjoy the lighting installations and artworks on display and will bring increased vibrancy, colour and interest to central Auckland. It will also provide a welcome boost to businesses on the path to recovery,” he says.

In preparation for City of Colour, Auckland Council is arranging for streets and squares to be deep cleaned, is sprucing up the planters, addressing graffiti and working with safety partners to ensure people feel safe and welcome when they return to the city centre.  

Auckland’s city centre characteristically outperforms the region’s economy*, but it is also known to be more sensitive to economic shocks.

Auckland Council Chief Economist Unit confirms that the lockdowns saw city centre growth fall faster than the wider Auckland economy in the year to March 2021.

But as New Zealand’s primary commercial centre, business hub for around 30% of New Zealand’s Top 200 companies** and home to 40,000 residents, this 4.33 square kilometre economic powerhouse is embracing recovery measures, judging by city centre businesses’ whole-hearted response to City of Colour.

City of Colour is a partnership between Auckland Council and Heart of the City and other city centre partners including SkyCity, Viaduct Harbour Holdings, Britomart Group, Precinct Properties, Karangahape Road Business Association, Eke Panuku and Auckland Live.

For the full line-up of artists and their work featuring in City of Colour please go to

Information on transport to the city centre is available at

Te Maharatanga o Ngā Wai – Te Wai Horotiu by Etienne Neho and Graham Tipene of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei

Te Maharatanga o Ngā Wai – Te Wai Horotiu by Etienne Neho and Graham Tipene of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei

Auckland Council Chief Economist Unit cites 10 reasons the success of our city centre matters:

  1. Auckland’s city centre is the primary commercial centre of the New Zealand economy.
  2. The city centre tends to outperform the overall economy. However, it is more sensitive to economic shocks, in particular the lockdowns which have seen city centre growth fall faster than the rest of the Auckland economy*.
  3. Its land area is 4.33km2 which is 0.4 per cent of Auckland’s total land area (1,086km2). By way of contrast, it generates about 19 per cent of Auckland’s GDP.
  4. For the year to March 2021, Auckland’s city centre generated $23.2bn in GDP, which represents about 19 per cent of Auckland’s GDP.
  5. Around $5.4bn in GDP is generated per square km in Auckland’s city centre, making it the most efficient centre in the country.
  6. The top four industries (Finance and Insurance Services, Professional Services, Information Media and Real Estate Services) are responsible for 72 per cent of the city centre’s GDP. In contrast the next five industries contribute around 2.1bn, which is around 9.3 per cent of the city centre GDP.
  7. Retail and Hospitality contribute around 3.2 per cent to Auckland’s city centre GDP.
  8. 4 per cent of Aucklanders work in the city centre; this is down 7 per cent from 2020.
  9. About half of the **Deloitte top 200 companies are located in Auckland; around 30 per cent are based in the city centre.
  10. The city centre is home to around 40,000 residents and as the pipeline of residential development continues to expand, it could lead to greater demand for city centre services.


  • Points 4 to 8 relate to Auckland's regional GDP for 2021, released in March 2022. Sources: Infometrics and Statistics NZ.
  • Sources for point 9: Deloitte Top 200 businesses index and analysis by Auckland Council’s RIMU and Auckland Unlimited


Sprig. Photo credit Sacha Stejko

Sprig. Photo credit Sacha Stejko

City of Colour kicks off an ongoing calendar of events and activities to revitalise the city centre and the return to work and play. It is joined by Matariki Festival 21 June – 16 July, and Elemental AKL 14–31 July, a sensational season of curated experiences celebrating the unique culture, cuisine, art, music and creativity of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

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