Australasian Cities Conference set to take place in New Zealand for the first time

The former State of Australian Cities Conference – now known as the State of Australasian Cities or SOAC –  is being held in Aotearoa New Zealand for the first time next week, with more than 400 delegates set to arrive for the event being held from 6-8 December in Pōneke Welllington.

SOAC2023 presents a one-of–a-kind opportunity for urban researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to access the latest research and thinking on cities, say the conference co-chairs Dr Mirjam Schindler (Victoria University), Dr Becky Kiddle (Te Wānanga o Aotearoa) and Professor Iain White (University of Waikato).

“Every year the decisions that are taken around city-building and urban planning result in stark social, spatial, environmental and economic choices and consequences. We need to be well informed to debate those choices and consequences in far more depth if we are going to collectively navigate a better future,” says Dr Mirjam Schindler.

“Hosting this event marks a real milestone for urban scholarship in Aotearoa and it brings a sharp focus to the biggest challenges of our times, from greening of our cities and exploring new approaches to city governance through to tackling major infrastructure needs, investigating different models for housing and confronting persistent legacies of inequity.”

“New light is being shone on Indigenous knowledge at SOAC 2023 including a special panel session titled ‘Reckoning with urbanism – why Aotearoa needs a Māori cultural landscape lexicon’. There are also a large number of papers that look at experiences of urban development and mobility from the specific perspectives of children, young adults, women, new migrants and older people”, says Dr Becky Kiddle.

“SOAC 2023 also has a strong focus on climate change with up to 18 papers that cover issues like adaptations for the varied impacts of flooding and extreme heatwaves. Other papers provide insights into the co-benefits of managed retreats and from a local perspective it’s gratifying to see there are a number of papers focused on our main urban centres of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as research covering case studies from the Hawkes Bay and Hamilton”.

“The depth and breadth of knowledge being shared by our six keynote speakers, panel sessions and presentations of up to 250 research papers across the three days of the conference is significant,” says Professor Iain White.

“The diversity of topics covered provides insights into the various challenges cities face from recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic through to the changing dynamics of apartment life and fresh thinking about rental housing. All of this represents a unique forum for the type of knowledge and expertise that is so vital to finding better solutions for our built, lived and natural environments”.


The SOAC2023 conference is being hosted at Te Herenga Waka | Victoria University of Wellington in conjunction with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, the University of Waikato and the Australasian Cities Research Network. The programme has been brought together under the theme of ‘Pacific Futures: Australasian Cities in Transition’ by a partnership between all participating universities, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and, for the first time, an Indigenous Caucus, with leadership from conference co-chairs Dr Mirjam Schindler (Victoria University), Dr Becky Kiddle (Te Wānanga o Aotearoa) and Professor Iain White (University of Waikato) working closely with a local organising committee.

The SOAC conference is well established as the premier event for urban researchers in Australasia and is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023. The SOAC conferences started as the State of Australian Cities and transformed to the State of Australasian Cities in 2020 with the new ACRN co-Presidents located in both Australia (Wendy Steele) and Aotearoa/NZ (Iain White). As the flagship event of the Australasian Cities Research Network, SOAC is focused on fostering urban scholarship and is widely anticipated by academics, urban researchers, policymakers and practitioners. The SOAC2023 conference has a strong emphasis on highlighting research that seeks to heighten Indigenous perspectives and knowledges, and on encouraging more engagement between academic institutions and their external communities.

Related Links:

SOAC conference
SOAC 2023 LinkedIn page for updates
Pōneke to the Pacific talk, Wednesday 6 December nzia-city-talks-poneke-to-the-pacific/
Australasian Cities Research Network

SOAC 2023 Keynote speakers: Tamatha Paul (Green MP, New Zealand Parliament); Associate Prof Emma Power (Western Sydney University); Associate Prof Rhys Jones (University of Auckland); Dame Sue Bagshaw (Te Korowai Youth Wellbeing Trust); Associate Prof Crystal Legacy (University of Melbourne); Professor Bruce Clarkson (University of Waikato).

Panels: Mana whenua; Policy impact research; Women in Urbanism; Early career researchers.

Speakers at SOAC 2023 include representatives from almost 40 tertiary education institutions: Australian National University, Curtin University, Griffith University, James Cook University, La Trobe University, Lincoln University, Macquarie University, Massey University, Monash University, Northumbria University, Queensland University of Technology, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Trinity College – Dublin, University of Alberta, University of Auckland, University of Canberra, University of Canterbury, University of Illinois, University of Lisbon, University of Melbourne, University of Northern British Columbia, University of NSW, University of Otago/ NZ Centre for Sustainable Cities, University of Queensland, University of South Australia, University of Sydney, University of Tasmania, University of Technology – Sydney, University of the Sunshine Coast, University of Utah, University of Waikato, University of Western Australia, University of Wollongong, Victoria University of Wellington | Te Herenga Waka, WelTec – Te Pukenga, Western Sydney University; and 13 other organisations: Blaschke and Rutherford Environmental Consultants, Consentire, Gordon Consulting, Inner City Wellington/ Live Wellington, Kāinga Ora, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Nicholson Consulting, Pollock Consulting, Pūrangakura Research Centre, The Committee for Sydney, The Urban Advisory, Wellington City Council, WSP.

SOAC 2023 is grateful for sponsorship received from National Science Challenges (Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities) as Chief Sponsor; Toka Tū Ake EQC as our Platinum Sponsor; Gold sponsors Kāinga Ora, Lincoln University, CRESA – Centre for Research Evaluation and Social Assessment and Massey University; Silver sponsors Unitec Manaaki Whenua | Landcare Research, UDINZ – Urban Development Institute of New Zealand, APL Window Solutions and National Science Challenges (Resilience to Nature’s Challenges); and Bronze sponsors the NZ Geographical Society, WSP and Tourism New Zealand.

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