Te Waihanga consulting on major changes to New Zealand’s infrastructure planning and delivery

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, is proposing an overhaul of the way New Zealand’s infrastructure is planned, prioritised and built, in a consultation document released today.

Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland says the document He Tūāpapa ki te Ora, Infrastructure for a Better Future sets a proposed direction for a 30-Year Infrastructure Strategy, which is being developed.

“New Zealand is facing some huge challenges. As our cities age many of the infrastructure networks that support them are nearing end of life, often at the same time. Add to that the need to redesign our fossil-fueled energy system, improve water quality, relieve our congested towns and cities and build the new houses we need for a growing population, there is a lot to do. This is going to require bold, decisive action, starting now,” says Copland.

New Zealand is world leading in so many ways but our infrastructure is holding us back.

"We have been speaking to infrastructure providers, central and local government, business leaders and communities about the issues and opportunities they experience and what they suggest needs to change in order to provide world-class infrastructure here in Aotearoa."

Infrastructure for a Better Future also draws on research and the priorities people shared through our Aotearoa 2050 engagement campaign(external link) and sets out options for how better infrastructure can enhance the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

Copland is appealing to New Zealanders to have their say; “This is an amazing opportunity for New Zealanders to tell Te Waihanga, the Infrastructure Commission, what you want to see in your 30-year strategy.”

The consultation document sets out goals for a New Zealand with a productive, carbon-neutral economy, affordable homes, reliable travel and safe and healthy communities. Infrastructure decisions would be guided by the Treaty of Waitangi and in partnership with Māori. 

Specific proposals include:

  • Rigorous and transparent cost-benefit analyses on all major public infrastructure projects to ensure value for money.
  • A more responsive planning system to meet our housing needs, by accelerating and enhancing the National Policy Statement on Urban Development, national standardisation of planning rulebooks and a consistent process to speed up rezoning for residential density.
  • A major projects leadership academy to raise capability in both government and industry
  • Better pricing of existing and new infrastructure services, including for urban development, water, transport, and to support the transition to Net Zero Carbon 2050.
  • Congestion charging in Auckland to improve urban accessibility and begin to plan for congestion charging in cities other than Auckland.
  • Empower cities to approve congestion charging by removing legislative barriers.
  • Reviewing local government’s role in infrastructure, including local authority boundaries.
  • Greater use of open data in infrastructure, to enable the development of ‘digital twins’ in public sector infrastructure and the use of artificial intelligence for activities such as consenting.
  • The potential for an Asset Management Team to take on infrastructure responsibilities from government agencies that are not well equipped.
  • Investigating the potential for offshore renewable power generation.

Geoff Cooper, Te Waihanga GM Strategy says, “It’s not about building new things. We need to be thinking about how we make smarter and better decisions about the existing infrastructure we have. Most of the infrastructure we will be using in 30 years’ time is already around us.

Infrastructure lasts a very long time. So when we are thinking about what we need from infrastructure it has to be both fit for purpose and fit for the future.

The 30-year strategy must be provided to the Minister for Infrastructure and will be tabled in the House by April 2022.

Public consultation on Infrastructure for a Better Future runs from 12 May to 2 July 2021. Submissions can be made through the Te Waihanga website at: www.infrastructure.govt.nz/have-your-say