Skip to content
Infrastructure blog

How New Zealand plans to enable better infrastructure

28 September 2022

Analysis of how New Zealand government’s review aligns with Enabling Better Infrastructure (EBI) principles.

How New Zealand plans to enable better infrastructure
Launched this year, New Zealand’s first infrastructure strategy is a ‘major milestone’. Image credit: YIUCHEUNG/Shutterstock

The New Zealand government has responded to the first infrastructure strategy prepared by the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission.

It has provided a detailed review of the 68 recommendations outlined in the Infrastructure Strategy to ensure it invests in the right infrastructure.

Here, we show how the government’s response aligns with the following Enabling Better Infrastructure programme’s 12 principles for strengthening national infrastructure planning and prioritisation:

  • Principle 1 - Identify strategic objectives
  • Principle 2 - Consider Sustainable Development Goals as a supporting framework
  • Principle 3 - Establish a national strategy
  • Principle 4 - Incorporate national characteristics
  • Principle 9 - Ruthlessly prioritise infrastructure programmes
  • Principle 11 - Consult with a broad stakeholder group

New Zealand’s first infrastructure strategy

Launched this year, New Zealand’s first infrastructure strategy is a ‘major milestone’, setting out recommendations for central and local government, and the infrastructure sector.

The recommendations outline an ambitious plan to invest in all infrastructure layers – economic, social, and environmental - to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Noteworthy recommendations include:

  • increasing infrastructure resilience,
  • integrating net zero into the planning systems,
  • increasing technology uptake, and
  • prioritising the transport funding system.

While the infrastructure strategy aligns with many of the EBI principles, whether the government would action these recommendations was subject to its review earlier this month.

Read more on ICE’s review of New Zealand’s Infrastructure Strategy produced by the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission:

Find out more

Government’s response to the infrastructure strategy

In its review, the government highlighted that it’s already partially or fully supporting the delivery of 52 of the 68 recommendations.

This is part of its existing investment of NZ$61.9 billion in the creation, renewal, and maintenance of infrastructure over the next five years.

The government agreed to support the following Enabling Better Infrastructure principles:

Principle 1: identifying strategic objectives

The government’s response to the strategy placed nation-building at its heart, using it to identify priorities for supporting equitable future development.

To achieve this, the strategy outlined the following objectives:

  • Economic: build a high-wage and low-emissions economy and provide economic security.
  • Social: support wellbeing through health and mobility solutions, and address child poverty.
  • Environmental: respond to climate change and its impacts.

Principle 2: using SDGs as a supporting framework

Although the SDGs were not explicitly referred to, the response strongly aligned with 13 of the 17 goals.

The SDGs represented most strongly were:

  • 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • 4 - Quality Education
  • 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth Goal
  • 9- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 - Climate Action Goal
  • 15 - Life on Land

Principle 3: establishing a national strategy

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission is an independent body that supported an impartial analysis of what’s needed to develop a national strategy.

This enabled the government to remove politics from the evidence base, which helped foster transparency in infrastructure planning and prioritisation.

Principle 4: incorporating national characteristics

Countries face their own legacies and challenges.

The government identified the need to accommodate growing and ageing populations in infrastructure planning.

Other considerations included inflationary pressures, global supply chain, and the labour market.

Principle 9: prioritising infrastructure programmes

Considering the long-term benefits of infrastructure is essential for allocating limited funds.

The following recommendations were prioritised:

  • Strengthening partnerships: build capacity across the entire infrastructure system.
  • Building a thriving economy: increase resilience to climate change, boost inclusive access to infrastructure services, and reduce costs.
  • Developing world-class infrastructure: strengthen government decision-making and private sector input, boost long-term infrastructure planning, streamline financing, and drive digitisation.

Principle 11: consulting with a broad stakeholder group

The government observed it was necessary to collaborate with citizens, local government, private sector, and other stakeholders.

Collaboration was identified as a critical feature of success, which was factored into the procurement and contracting arrangements between infrastructure sectors and agencies working in a common area.

Recommendations not actioned

The 16 recommendations not supported partially or in full included:

  • translation of national objectives to regional outcomes
  • project reporting
  • equitable funding of local infrastructure

While these areas do not align strongly with the principles, they include critical avenues for supporting long-term policy interventions.

In case you missed it

You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

  • Dr Kerry Bobbins, head of Enabling Better Infrastructure programme at ICE