Transforming our infrastructure

While the draft strategy sets a number of objectives for shaping a better future, there are three areas that can have the greatest impact over the next 30 years to transform New Zealand.

1. Leveraging our low emissions energy resources

We can grow our low emissions energy generation beyond what we need to meet our climate change commitments, creating economic opportunities and high-paying jobs.

New Zealand has an abundance of low-emission energy potential. We have about two to three times more commercially viable wind, solar and geothermal resources than the Climate Change Commission estimates will be needed to meet our net-zero carbon emissions commitment. Beyond meeting these commitments, unlocking a low-emissions economy could also provide much greater economic benefits for New Zealand.

To leverage our low-emissions energy resources we must have:

  • The right regulatory settings to enable development of large-scale clean onshore and offshore energy resources and the networks needed to connect them.
  • Reliable supporting infrastructure.
  • A skilled workforce.

2. Planning for generations to come

We need to overhaul the way we plan infrastructure to keep pace with our growing population and ensure there is enough quality, affordable housing in the right places, supported by well-functioning infrastructure. With long term planning, we can build great communities for generations to come.

We can transform the system that’s led to these problems, so that we get infrastructure before it’s needed, not after. This means taking a long term approach, allowing for different levels of growth so we don’t limit our future, and coordinating our infrastructure planning with the planning we do for our homes and communities so that the two work together.

We need to take a coordinated approach across government and in our communities:

  • A resource management system that actively prioritises homes and communities.
  • A long term, open-ended approach to regional planning.
  • Protection of areas for infrastructure decades in advance.
  • Planning rules that are equitable and enable more housing and employment in the right places.
  • Ensuring that there is intergenerational equity.

3. Better infrastructure through pricing

Changing the way we pay for our busiest roads, water services and other infrastructure can reduce the time we spend in traffic, accelerate decarbonisation efforts, conserve water, and allow us to lift the quality of infrastructure and give us greater choice for how we want to live.

Our transport and water infrastructure are stretched to capacity. Too many of us are spending hours stuck in traffic and facing rates’ rises to pay for water networks that are struggling to keep up with the needs of our growing cities. While we’re planning to build more, it won’t be enough.

Changing the way we pay for things like roads and water use can provide more choice and better share the load, provided it is done in a fair and equitable way. By introducing prices for our busiest roads at peak times and charging just for the water we use, we can encourage people to prioritise their trips, move to lower carbon travel and conserve water use.  

Some of the actions we need to take include:

  • Pricing for quicker journeys.
  • Better transport alternatives.
  • Pricing to pay for water infrastructure.
  • Facilitating water conservation.