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Christchurch addresses impact of ageing population

3 June 2008

The impact of New Zealand’s ageing population on Christchurch’s community will be the subject of a public forum in the city this month.

Age Quake Forum: The Changing Demographics of Canterbury is a three-hour event being hosted by the Christchurch City Council, in the Tuam Street Civic Chambers, on Monday 16 June from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

"In 18 years, more senior citizens than children under 15 will be living in the Canterbury region," say Michael Aitken, Council Community Services General Manager and chair of the forum.

This represents a huge shift from the present, in which there are almost twice as many young people as older people.

"With one in five people aged 65 years and over, there will be a significant impact on the local community and services it provides."

He says people may think the ageing population is a distant concern that only impacts a limited set of services, but that simply isn’t true.

"Planning for this demographic shift needs to begin now, and it needs to be a major consideration in decisions made about the future of our community.

"I encourage everyone to attend this forum as it looks to the future and the development requirements of our city."

The forum will begin with a panel of experts discussing various implications of the ageing population:

  • Mansoor Khawaja, Principal Demographer at Statistics New Zealand, will speak about the key demographic trends of the ageing population.
  • Andrew Dickerson, Chief Executive of Age Concern Canterbury and elected member of the Canterbury District Health Board, will discuss future opportunities and challenges that face the community due to this demographic shift.
  • John Patterson, Positive Ageing Ambassador and Volunteer Community Co-ordinator, will speak about paid and unpaid employment during retirement.
  • Hugh Nicholson, Principal Urban Designer at the Christchurch City Council, will discuss how to accommodate the ageing population in urban planning.
  • Dr Sally Keeling, Director of the New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing and Senior Lecturer with the Christchurch School of Medicine, will speak about creating a positive quality of life in old age.

A panel discussion will follow morning tea, giving those attending the event the opportunity to share their thoughts and ask questions.

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