OPINION: The Infometrics report out this morning on the state of our regions up against the big urban centres has got me thinking.
New Zealand has a bunch of zombie towns, that is, towns that are slowly declining, services pulling out, dwindling population, tumbleweeds blowing through main street - they're heading backwards and it makes it damn hard to stay in these places - no matter how loyal you are.
In this latest research Northland and Gisborne got a bad rap - they're struggling compared to the boom times in the big cities.
But some of our big cities have problems of their own.
Hello Auckland - a total and world-class disaster. Auckland is an ad-hoc planning mess, a chaotic arm wrestle if you want to get anywhere fast. It's like trying to fit six big teenage rugby players in mum's small mini - it just doesn't work.
I reckon there's a simple solution to all this.
I think our political leaders ought to do more to incentivise people and businesses to move to the regions where the beaches are clean, and the houses at $300,000 cost the same as a 20 percent deposit on an overpriced small 1970s timber house in a fairly average Auckland suburb.
Shane Jones' regional fund is a start, but why don't we actually get hands-on and incentivise businesses with moving costs, tax breaks, land, buildings, whatever it takes to ease the pressure and make the regions more attractive.
Auckland tech company The Straker Group has done it - Gisborne is now home, and its workers love it.
So Shane, this is your next challenge and no, you can't send everyone to Northland - spread the love mate.
Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show.