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Perspectives on Prosperity

Malcolm Johns

Chief Executive
Christchurch International Airport

Prosperity is a highly personal concept.

Some people see it in economic terms, believing that increasing economic outcomes for individuals, communities and countries provides for greater opportunity for the social (beyond the pure financial). While others see it in social terms, believing enhanced individual, community and country outcomes are not only a priority, but essential if the economic outcomes are to flow.

For me, the key is a clear understanding of the balance people want between economic and social outcomes within the context of feeling prosperous.

We have just completed a research piece here in Christchurch, which can be viewed at christchurchstory.co.nz and the three themes that arose from that were a strong desire for people to be able to grow, be connected and find balance.

People want access to meaningful work, they want to be connected to New Zealand and the world, but not at the expense of being able to lead a balanced life. For Christchurch it appears there is a strong desire to balance social and economic outcomes, which I take to be a definition of prosperity for this city.

Communities ultimately provide opportunities for prosperity, and different communities will provide different opportunities, to balance the economic and social. Satisfaction rises where there is good opportunity to access the desired balance, dissatisfaction rises when there is not.

The current housing debate is evidence of how thinking varies between communities, however the debate is still occurring within the framework of owning your own home in New Zealand. This is part of the economic and social framework for prosperity in New Zealand.

While I think New Zealand has a clear framework for prosperity, the left and the right present it as different balances between social and economic outcomes. The country as a whole will tolerate those differences within a defined left/right range, because fundamentally prosperity for us is about obtaining economic and social balance.

What ties everything together is that we all wish to have the economic ability to have the social outcomes that reflect our idea of prosperity.