Auckland Mayor Len Brown has been sworn into office, saying the region can no longer postpone significant and costly projects.
Mr Brown told an audience of 1200 at the inauguration of Auckland Council that the region's infrastructure needed to be the equal of that in many Australian cities.
In his speech, he repeated pledges to build an inner-city rail loop, railway to the airport and to the North Shore.
The audience included Prime Minister John Key and senior cabinet ministers, including Steven Joyce, who has warned against making expensive promises in Auckland.
Mr Brown also acknowledged the need to be cautious in raising property rates, saying many are experiencing hard times and that the full cost of the region's amalgamation is not yet known.
Mr Brown said he would keep rate rises close to the level of inflation, but Auckland had missed chances to be more prosperous by not going through with projects such as rapid rail in the 1970s.
He said a redeveloped waterfront, a cruise ship terminal and a convention centre were needed to attract more visitors and to benefit locals.