New Zealand’s most creative city in 2020

Wellington City continues its run as New Zealand’s most creative city, according to the 2020 Infometrics Creativity Index. Wellington City has now topped the rankings for the last 20 years, with a still significant lead over other centres.

Wellington City tops the 2020 Infometrics Creativity Index

Over the year to March 2020, 6.3% of Wellington City’s workforce – just under 10,900 jobs – were employed in the creative sector, compared to the national average of 3.6%. Wellington’s strong concentration of creatives means the capital’s position at the top of the Index appears secure, with a 1.7 percentage point difference between first and second places.

Auckland comes in second for the 2020 Index, with 4.6% of their workforce employed in the creative sector, followed by Queenstown Lakes District with 4.5% (see Table 2 for full ranks).

Wellington remains NZ’s most creative area

Eagle-eyed readers will note that six of the top 10 areas in the 2020 Infometrics Creativity Index are in Wellington region. Wellington region contains 16.2% of New Zealand’s creative workforce overall, despite representing just 11.5% of total employment.

Wellington’s vibrant creative scene is well recognised for being a drawcard for the city and region. As we pointed out in 2017, this vibrancy helps to attract top talent. In 2020, six of the top 10 most creative areas in New Zealand are also in the top 10 for knowledge intensive employment.

Most creative areas fairly constant over the last two decades

Looking back in time, the most creative areas in New Zealand are little changed. Infometrics analysis shows that eight of the 10 most creative areas in 2000 also feature in the 2020 list, although the order and values are different. It’s a similar story for 2010, with nine of the top 10 areas also appearing in the 2020 list.

Of the current top 10, Queenstown Lakes District has seen a slight fall, from 5.1% in 2000 to 4.5% in 2020, as tourism-based employment took up a larger share of local employment. Westland District, ranked 8th in 2000 and 4th in 2010, has slipped down the ranks slightly to sit 15th in 2020.

Kaipara and Waikato districts rise up the ranks

Some areas have climbed up the Infometrics Creativity Index over the years. Both Kaipara and Waikato Districts have been the biggest movers, climbing 29 ranks each over the last twenty years (see Chart 2).

Two of the largest movers, South Wairarapa and Carterton, have seen movements that have pushed them into the top 10, with Upper Hutt (11th
in 2020) just missing out on making the cut.

Unpublished 2019 Index shows similar result

The COVID-19 pandemic redirected our attention last year, and we didn’t publish our usual update to the Creativity Index. For completeness and in line with previous publications, Chart 3 shows the top 10 for the 2019 Infometrics Creativity Index.

Wellington City remains the most creative city, but 2019 did see Queenstown Lakes District pip for Auckland for second spot, briefly clawing back the silver medal it held in 2017.


Technical Note: The creative sector has been measured using Infometrics online Sector Profiles. We have defined a sector which includes a range of creative industries (eg motion picture and video production, performing arts operation) and occupations (eg musician, architect). The online profile provides a wide variety of indicators for the creative sector including employment, contribution to GDP, demographic characteristics of the workforce and earnings. More details can be found here.

2016 Infometrics Creativity Index

2017 Infometrics Creativity Index

2018 Infometrics Creativity Index

Full 2020 Infometrics Creativity Index

Related Articles