Infrastructure Priority List

Te Waihanga is working with Treasury to develop an infrastructure priority list process for New Zealand. The work on the priority list will explore linkages with existing planning and funding processes.

Te Waihanga is working with Treasury to develop an infrastructure priority list process for New Zealand. The work on the priority list will explore linkages with existing planning and funding processes. 

Investment management system (Te Tai Ōhanga - The Treasury)(external link)

What is an infrastructure priority list? 

An infrastructure priority list includes a clear process to assess proposed infrastructure projects at set points in the investment life cycle. 

An infrastructure priority list, in the broader context of a robust public investment management system, can contribute to: 

  • building consensus on infrastructure priorities and projects 
  • lifting expectations for project assurance during planning 
  • encouraging projects to prioritise strategic alignment and value for money 
  • identifying needs and problems at an early stage, before they become urgent 
  • identifying opportunities for agency cooperation and alternative finance. 

Why are we doing this work? 

Giving advice on the priorities for infrastructure is in our legislation and is a key recommendation in Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa, the New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy. 

Recommendation 40. Strengthen independent advice for infrastructure prioritisation(external link)

Our research shows that New Zealand falls in the bottom 10% of high-income countries on the efficiency of public infrastructure investment. Our spending measures up, but the quality of our infrastructure lags behind. Evidence from across the OECD shows that improving our public investment management practices, including how we assess and prioritise infrastructure projects across sectors, can help to lift our performance.

Investment gap or efficiency gap? Benchmarking New Zealand’s investment in infrastructure

OECD Infrastructure Toolkit(external link) 

To contribute to this, the Government has directed Te Waihanga to work with the Treasury to develop an infrastructure priority list that will support better infrastructure delivery outcomes. 

Action 3 of the Government's Infrastructure Action Plan(external link)

What are our next steps? 

The first step in developing an infrastructure priority list is to build and test an assessment framework. 

The purpose of the assessment framework is to test whether a project solves a significant long-term problem in a cost-effective way, following the Core principles for infrastructure decision-making outlined in Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. 

Core principles for infrastructure decision-making(external link)


Our assessment framework will integrate with and draw upon existing New Zealand guidance on infrastructure project planning and assessment, such as: 

Better Business Cases guidance (Te Tai Ōhanga – The Treasury) (external link)

Cost Benefit Analysis Guidance and CBAx Tool (Te Tai Ōhanga – The Treasury)(external link) 

Monetised benefits and costs manual for transport (Waka Kotahi – NZ Transport Agency)(external link)


We’ll also be looking at international examples of infrastructure assessment frameworks to inform our thinking, including: 

OECD Recommendation on Governance of Infrastructure(external link) 

Infrastructure Australia Infrastructure Priority List Assessment Framework(external link) 

Infrastructure New South Wales Information on Infrastructure Projects Guide(external link)