Creative City Index

The Creative City Index takes stock of a place's creative pulse by exploring its urban dynamics, processes and projects, and making comparisons with other cities. The index looks at the city as an integrated whole, from both insider and outsider perspectives.

The index provides a method and an opportunity to benchmark Palmerston North against a group of 14 other cities, many of similar size.

Palmerston North was first assessed using the Creative City Index during a week-long residency by Charles Landry in March 2013. Landry came to help residents look at the city afresh and to find out how well we are harnessing our collective imagination and creative potential.

We repeated the survey in March 2019.

Creative Cities Index: Palmerston North survey results 2019(PDF, 3MB)         

What the Creative City Index told us about our city

The following excerpt is from Landry's original report. You can download the full report at the bottom of the page.

Palmerston North is a comfortable place, easy to live in and it gains its relative strength from its role as a regional hub, the presence of the university and the Defence Force. Yet it can achieve more with its assets and resources especially the university and the constant inflow of younger people.

"It is both missing and not grasping opportunities, which a more entrepreneurial spirit could unleash.

"There is a burgeoning awareness of the need for change and for the city to lift its game. It feels more comfortable with step-by-step change when perhaps a step change is needed. There definitely needs to be more energy and the city's pulse should beat a bit harder.

"Palmerston North stands at the cusp of important choices and a business as usual approach will not get it to where to wants and needs to be. It should develop a sense of urgency. This is difficult when things seem fine, with neither boom nor bust pressures. There is a danger of imperceptible, yet graceful decline.

"We are in a new world situation and some challenges and threats lie on the horizon. There is intense competition between cities and those with talent and ambition have choices. Many of the city's younger gifted people are leaving and even though some interesting older people are coming to the city, the talent churn is negative.

"Massey is firmly anchored into the city, especially given its food and agricultural research strengths, yet in time there is a risk that its strategic functions may shift elsewhere and the quality of students coming to study other disciplines may decline.

"The relative feeling of comfort especially amongst the city's leaderships has created a crisis of ambition - this is a crisis of a special kind. With a normal crisis threats loom sharply, but for Palmerston North it is the 'frog in boiling water' threat. The problem is addressed too late.

"To avert this situation Palmerston North needs to think less like a town and more like a city. This demands a degree of alertness, strategic focus and a deep and wide-spread understanding of global trends and their dynamics. In responding to this a vision needs to be built that reflects more than words on paper and is taken seriously and is implemented. Too often there is a sense that doing the strategy is the work, when of course it is only the beginning.

"A broader city-wide leadership should consider dispassionately where the city is going and by bringing these forces together it is likely to have positive results. In thinking through where the city's future lies, it may need outside advisors."

Comfortable or Captivating? An assessment of Palmerston North(PDF, 3MB)