Meet our Urban Planning students

Kirsten Binnie

Kirsten Binnie

"Urban Planning is a very broad degree which includes a lot of the subjects I'd been passionate about in high school; geography, history and design. We go on field trips to suburbs in Auckland and think about what we could do better, to make it safer, more pedestrian friendly, more attractive. Going back to the computer and using the maps to transform the city into a better place to live is really interesting.

"Our classes are quite tight-knit. We work in a studio environment, so we can easily work together and share ideas. The staff are really invested in your study; they know you by name and their doors are always open.

"I am involved with the University Christian Club, Student Life, which has been a great way of meeting students in other faculties, and they also connected me with another Urban Planning student, which has led to a lot of handy advice and insight!

"The University of Auckland is the only place in New Zealand to offer an Urban Planning degree and it's so relevant in Auckland at the moment. If you're interested in design and geography, I'd definitely recommend Urban Planning. You can find an aspect you will love and start to specialise in it."

Nate Saluni

Nate Saluni 

“Urban planning is about social improvement, taking into account things like geography, law, sustainability, history and cultural considerations, and how they’re all interconnected. We’re getting real life application of what we learn. Last year we travelled to Kaikohe to research and gauge community ideas for an iwi site, analysing and processing information to make recommendations for best use.

“The workload is a big step up from school, but I’ve balanced this through getting involved in UniMates basketball, the social sports league. The faculty ball has been a really enjoyable event each year not only because of the close relationships of the Urban Planning students, but also amongst the architecture and dance students due to the communal nature of our work and the social environments of our faculty.

“I am involved with the Auckland Young Planners, which gives me the chance to interact with practicing planners with a variety of experience, and be exposed to valuable networking opportunities. Our lecturers are highly engaged in the planning field, so often show us their past projects and keep us highly informed with current planning issues. For my honours dissertation, I’m interested in public space interaction – how cities and communities can draw elements of activity and life, and what the ideal mix of design, culture and policy is to generate genuine social interaction.

“If you’re interested in improving cities or communities, definitely consider urban planning. There’s a lot to learn, and a diversity of career choice upon graduating.”

Nate Saluni is in his final year of the Bachelor of Urban Planning (Honours).

Lucy Collins

Lucy Collins

"I started out at the University of Auckland doing a Bachelor of Science in Geography. I loved it, but took a paper in Urban Geography, and knew instantly that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I switched and never looked back!

“I realised how much I love cities and am really interested in how they work. It’s my dream in the future to work in Asia. I just love the cities there and how there are millions of people that live in them, and yet they somehow manage to make it all work. I love the organised chaos. I am especially interested in tall buildings, so I would really like to be a policy and urban design specialist in that area.

“Urban Planning is a small department. Everyone knows each other. The staff are very approachable. We get a lot of one-on-one time with tutors and lecturers, which helps to push us to go deeper into subjects and issues. Our class has become very close over the four years.

“Even though they were always extremely challenging, the design studios have been really interesting and rewarding. They’ve pushed me to go beyond what I thought I was able to do, especially in drawing and computer aided design. The studio space is also awesome. The things we’ve learnt in studio have definitely had the most impact on me, in the way I see and understand cities and how they function.

“Urban Planning has changed the way I see everything around me. Every global or local issue has something to do with planning. It involves politics, economics, design, transport, housing, poverty, racism, crime, climate change. We have the ability to influence so many aspects of people’s lives, and that is pretty exciting.”