Space Traders: Reregulation, Property Companies and Auckland’s Office Market, 1975–94


The global property boom of the 1980s and its aftermath has prompted considerable debate among academics. For the most part research has been directed toward the global cities of London, New York and Tokyo. Notwithstanding the significance of property processes within these global cities, metropolitan areas outside of the core financial centres have also experienced major transformations in their property markets. This paper examines the character of Auckland’s speculative office property boom of the 1980s which resulted in a level of output comparable to global cities such as Paris and Frankfurt. We argue that the wholesale reregulation of the New Zealand economy in the 1980s, and in particular the liberalization of financial markets and the share market, provided a context in which the structure of agents associated with the provision of office space was radically altered. The rise of property companies, and their dominance of the development process throughout the boom and subsequent crash, is detailed. Whilst Auckland’s property boom conforms to the global experience, we argue that the specific character and intensity of the development process in Auckland highlights the need to appreciate the ‘particularity of place’.