Action areas and priorities

Proposed Action Areas | Ngā wāhanga mahi e marohitia nei hei whakatutuki

To meet the proposed vision and the challenges New Zealand faces, we have identified a number of areas where change is needed. We call these areas Needs.

We have categorised these Needs under three Action Areas:

Building a Better Future

Delivering infrastructure that is resilient to stresses and shocks and ready for change.


  1. Prepare infrastructure for climate change
  2. Transition energy infrastructure for a zero-carbon 2050
  3. Adapt to technological and digital change
  4. Respond to demographic change
  5. Partner with Māori: Mahi Ngātahi
  6. Ensure security and resilience of critical infrastructure

Enabling Competitive Cities and Regions

Ensuring that our infrastructure systems support the needs of people living in cities and regions and improve our connections both within New Zealand and with our markets overseas.


  1. Enable a responsive planning system
  2. Coordinate delivery of housing and infrastructure
  3. Improve access to employment
  4. Plan for lead infrastructure
  5. Improve regional and international connections

Creating a Better System

A step change in how we plan, design, fund and deliver infrastructure.


  1. Integrate infrastructure institutions
  2. Ensure equitable funding and financing
  3. Make better use of existing infrastructure
  4. Require informed and transparent decision-making
  5. Develop and prioritise a pipeline of work
  6. Improve project procurement and delivery
  7. Reduce costs and improve consenting
  8. Activate infrastructure for economic stimulus

Proposed priorities | Ngā whakaarotau e marohitia nei

We have identified several areas that have the potential to make the biggest difference to our infrastructure system. These proposed priorities fall into five categories.

1. Institutional and governance reform

New Zealand has many organisations involved in infrastructure planning, funding and delivery. Decision-making across the infrastructure system is currently fragmented and lacks coordination. Better integration and coordination between local and central government infrastructure functions could significantly improve New Zealand’s infrastructure system. Extensive reviews and reform are already underway, including the Review into the Future for Local Government, reform of our health and disability system and the Three Waters (drinking water, stormwater and wastewater) Reform Programme. Further options to improve New Zealand’s governance of infrastructure need to be explored.

2. Getting the price right

There is a growing gap between the demand for infrastructure and the funding available or the willingness to pay for it. As well as building new infrastructure, we need to find better ways to use the infrastructure we already have. This means focusing on ways to better manage demand at peak periods (such as congestion on motorways during rush hour). Pricing strategies can enable demand to be better managed.

Examples include:

  • Congestion pricing or road tolling to reduce congestion in our cities and make them easier to access.
  • Increasing coverage of on-street parking charges to make the best use of our urban spaces.
  • Water metering to ensure better use of water infrastructure.
  • Waste-disposal charges that reflect the true cost of disposal to landfill.
  • Including the full cost of carbon in infrastructure business case appraisals and decision-making.

Any pricing strategy would need to consider mitigation approaches for low-income New Zealanders, so they are not disadvantaged.

3. Supporting housing supply

Housing in New Zealand is highly unaffordable, especially in fast-growing cities, and there are also broader issues with housing supply and quality. More development options are needed to increase housing supply and affordability. This will require changes to the planning environment and a consideration of options to plan, fund and deliver the
necessary associated infrastructure.

Options could include:

  • Developing consistent national planning rules to standardise the current fragmented approach to designing district plan rules.
  • Implementing regional spatial planning, where all the infrastructure elements needed for our regions and cities are planned for together, and requiring these plans to be funded.
  • Merging regional and district plans into combined plans with specific measures to address the time and cost of plan making under the current system.
  • Identifying the locations where planning restrictions are having a large impact on housing supply, and identifying steps to optimise these regulations to benefit all New Zealanders.
  • Creating targets for new housing development opportunities in cities and setting housing requirements through national direction.

4. Supporting a zero-carbon economy and preparing for climate change

Climate change may very well be the defining challenge of this century. It will have dramatic effects on how, where and when infrastructure is built, as well as the way it is used. The 2050 net-zero carbon emissions target will require new approaches to the design and construction of infrastructure and the waste it produces.

To achieve the target there is growing consensus that:

  • Electrification of transport and greater use of public transport and active travel (walking, cycling and micro-mobility) will be essential in cities.
  • Cost-effective solutions must be found to decarbonise heating used in industrial processes (such as drying milk powder and smelting steel) and significant investment is needed in the energy sector to meet the growing demand for electricity.
  • The planning system must be enabling of the infrastructure necessary for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

5. A digital future

Technology will dramatically alter how we design, build and use infrastructure in the future. It’s not possible to predict with any degree of certainty the extent of the technological advancement that will occur in the next 30 years. However, there are actions that can be taken now to prepare for the changes that are likely to come. Updating the national digital strategy could be a first step. A move towards better data collection and transparency, along with open data for infrastructure sectors requires greater thought to enable a greater understanding of New Zealand’s existing infrastructure performance, costs and impacts, as well as our future infrastructure requirements.