panoramic photo of Wellington City
New Zealand’s most creative city in 2021
Published in May 2022 newsletter

Although the top ranking in the Infometrics Creativity Index remained the same in 2021, there were some movements further down the ranking as COVID-19 impacted local economies differently.

Wellington City is well out in front

Wellington City has had tough time since COVID-19 struck. It has lost its international tourists and many of its business visitors too as domestic business travel has been replaced by online-meetings. A third whammy has been the move towards work from home, with many regular commuters from the surrounding regions reducing their time spent in the city or not coming in at all.

Wellington City might have fallen down the economic performance league table but has held onto the mantel of the most creative city in New Zealand in 2021, a position it has held since 2000 when our time series begins. With a Creative Index of 6.1 Wellington is way ahead of any of its competitors.

We would hope Wellington City’s creativity will help it regain its economic mojo and move it back up the economic performance ladder. The city’s creatives support the innovate industries which are the backbone of modern knowledge-intensive economies.

The Infometrics Creativity Index measures the proportion of the workforce employed in the Arts and Creative sector. The sector includes all industries and occupations that are regarded as creative. According to the Index, 6.1% of Wellington City’s workforce (10,692 people) were employed in the creative sector in 2021.

Queenstown has regained the second spot

Queenstown and Auckland have long been vying for second place in the Creativity Index. The tourist mecca regained the second spot in 2021 with a creativity index of 5.0. However, its move to the top was not through growth of the sector but rather through decline in total employment, which resulted in creative employment as a proportion of total employment rising.

Auckland has a somewhat lower index with 4.6% of its workforce employed in the creative sector. In absolute terms it is by far the largest creative sector in the country with nearly 42,000 Aucklanders employed in the sector.

Wellington Region dominates the top 10

Six of the eight territorial authorities in Wellington Region are in the top 10 in the Creativity Index, with only Upper Hutt and Masterton not in the top 10. Upper Hutt is making its bid to enter the top 10 sitting at number 13, up from 18 ten years ago. The development of the $50 million Lane Street Studio in Upper Hutt will give the City’s creative sector a huge boost and surely push it into the top 10 over the next few years.

Some big movers over the past 10 years

The ranking of New Zealand’s cities and districts changes slowly over time but there are some outstanding performers. Kaikoura is the biggest mover over the last decade, jumping 22 positions to 11th place in 2021. Manawatu District and Kaipara District are the next biggest movers, jumping 15 and 14 spots respectively.

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 (for example, motion picture and video production, performing arts operation) and occupations (for example, 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.

Previous Creativity Index editions

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