infraread - Te Kawepūrongo Waihanga

Keep up to date with key happenings in the NZ infrastructure space with our Monthly Newsletter.

  • 26 Aug 2021 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Statistics New Zealand released Te Pā Harakeke: Māori housing and wellbeing 2021 this morning. The report focuses on Māori housing and wellbeing, particularly on the connections and associations between various housing measures and Māori wellbeing outcomes. The report can be accessed here.

    One of the keys to intergenerational wellbeing is home ownership. We know that home ownership remains a key aspiration for most New Zealanders.

    Home ownership rates are associated with age. People who are older are more likely to own or partly own their home than people in younger age groups. The Māori population is generally younger. As people in their early twenties are often the least likely to live in an owner-occupied home, having a younger population structure is likely to result in lower home ownership rates.

    The report notes that Māori experience poorer housing outcomes and higher rates of homelessness. The report states that enduring low rates of home ownership have resulted in adverse economic and material outcomes with potentially wider intergenerational implications for Māori. Māori are also more likely to live in unsuitable, crowded homes, and in homes affected by dampness and mould. They are also less likely to move from renting to home ownership and generally report higher rates of unaffordable housing.

    The report makes for unsettling reading especially given Māori are projected to represent a significant chunk of the nation’s working age population in future.

    The report notes that Māori were much more likely to own the home they lived in, in the 1930s, but that Māori home ownership rates have fallen since then, particularly as many Māori migrated to cities. By the time national homeownership rates reached their peak in the 1990s, the rates for Māori had fallen well below that of people with European ethnicity.

    Empirical reports tend to appear unexciting, but they are an effective way of measuring the success of targeted central government initiatives. This latest report from Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa demonstrates there is still a long way to go to achieve equitable housing outcomes for Māori.

  • 26 Aug 2021 7:59 AM | Anonymous

    Auckland’s first ever climate festival will be held from 12 to 31 October 2021. The festival is an open platform for communities, the private sector, government, youth and Māori to come together as a whole-of-society response to the climate emergency.

    The festival is inspired by and modelled off the London Climate Action Week.

    The Auckland Climate Festival is being supported by a range of founding partners including Auckland Council, Auckland Unlimited, the Britomart Group, Foundation North, MartinJenkins, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, No One Studio, Smash Delta, Tonkin + Taylor, Vector, Waste Management and Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation.

    A diverse programme of events is being established that will take place throughout the three-week period. Events already announced include the Climate Change and Business Conference, KangaNews-Westpac New Zealand Sustainable Finance Summit, Vector Lights in partnership with Auckland Council, a panel discussion hosted by Warren and Mahoney in partnership with Cosgroves, and workshops hosted by the Recreators and Climate Collage.

    Event registration is open and those interested in organising an event can find out more here.

    More events will be announced on 1 September.

  • 28 Jul 2021 12:32 PM | Anonymous

    By Claire Edmondson, General Manager

    I’m all for modeshift. I bought my electric bike three years ago and recently invested in an electric scooter. I love my electric bike and am a confident cyclist – I zoom around Auckland’s city centre, take my e-bike with me over to Waiheke Island, and it even accompanies me on the ferry to the Coromandel. However, I still cannot fathom why the government thinks spending $785 million on a walking and cycle lane across the Waitemata Harbour is a good investment, especially at this time when the government has either downsized or culled some other committed projects.

    Last month, Transport Minister Hon Michael Wood announced the Northern Pathway Westhaven to Akoranga project as a dedicated walking and cycling link between Central Auckland and the North Shore. The preferred option is a stand-alone bridge alongside the existing Harbour Bridge.

    Perhaps I’m experiencing a different reality in Auckland and New Zealand than whoever came up with this idea, but I really cannot understand the logic behind this project. The Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) is estimated at 0.4-0.6 – yes, for every dollar spent, there could well be a loss of up to 60 cents.

    I cannot help but question this project’s priority at a time when:

    • there is a significant infrastructure deficit in areas such as the health sector
    • we have nurses striking over their pay during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • we have over 100,000 New Zealanders stating they are homeless
    • over 100,000 people have presented a petition to Parliament asking for more funding so New Zealanders can get access to modern medicine from Pharmac, because the $200 million extra funding allocated over four years in this year’s National Budget is insufficient.

    Why not just get on with a multimodal harbour crossing instead?

    The government is rightly copping flak on the issue, with the National Party stating the whole fiasco – including the earlier clip-on version – has already cost $37 million, with $20 million spent on consultants alone over the past two financial years. The ACT Party’s David Seymour has stated the announcement breaks the government’s original 2018 statement that it would fully fund the cycle crossing only if the business case for it stacked up.

    Minister Wood believes the BCR would improve once a more detailed re-assessment was done. To me, that suggests fudging numbers to artificially make a project appear beneficial. If the numbers do improve substantially, it would be useful to review the methodology and apply it against projects that have not progressed due to an unfavourable BCR.

    All this announcement tells me is that if you have the means and create noise, this government will give you what you want when others without a voice are not getting what they need!

  • 28 Jul 2021 12:30 PM | Anonymous

    By Martina Moroney, Researcher

    A confluence of below average rainfall, low hydro lake storage levels and less wind has resulted in New Zealand using more coal for electricity generation in the quarter to March 2021 than in any other quarter since 2012. Hydro generation was down by 9%, and gas faced supply issues, experiencing an 18% decrease over the past year, resulting in a turn to coal as a back-up generation source. Compared to the quarter immediately preceding it, the amount of coal burned for electricity production more than doubled, to nearly 430,000 tonnes.

    At Huntly, our least renewable energy production source, these challenges have meant that their third Rankine unit was brought online during this period of increased coal-demand. And the share of renewable energy decreased to 79% from 82% compared to the same period last year. This forced reliance on coal demonstrates the difficult and expensive battle the government faces in closing the gap between our current capacity and its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2035.

    Addressing the issue will depend on increasing hydro energy storage capacity and the productive resilience of renewable sources. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s NZ Battery project seeks to address the dry-year problem by funding the establishment of further hydro-storage to the tune of $30 million for the feasibility study alone, and billions more if construction is undertaken. Against a background of limited capital available for climate change adaptation and mitigation, the technically difficult task of building storage capacity to enable the achievement of those last few percentage points of renewable energy generation is going to be equally as economically challenging as it is technically difficult.

    Further, as we transition away from fossil fuels and increasingly seek to rely on renewable energy sources under the government’s decarbonisation agenda, the issue of limited supply is only likely to worsen and compound the existing challenges. What is now a dry-year problem, is likely to become a dry, cloudy, and/or calm issue as we also rely on wind and solar, which will in turn be worsened by rising electricity demand.

    In recognition of the size of the challenge presented by work to ensure the consistency of renewable energy provision, the Climate Change Commission itself discusses a more realistic assessment of the 100% decarbonisation goal and recommends that the government avoid prioritising a huge pay out for a few percentage points, and instead focus on decarbonising other sectors and address other challenges in the electricity generation space. 
  • 28 Jul 2021 12:29 PM | Anonymous

    The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is consulting on a discussion document that will inform the Government Policy Statement on Housing and Urban Development (GPS-HUD).

    The GPS-HUD is intended to provide a shared vision and direction across housing and urban development, to guide and inform the actions of all those who contribute. It will seek to set out how the government and other parts of the housing and urban development system will work together to realise this vision. The GPS-HUD will seek to shape future:

    • government policy
    • investment
    • programmes of work.

    The first GPS-HUD will be published by 1 October 2021 and reviewed at least every three years.

    The consultation and publication timeline appears overly ambitious and rushed, and the government is consulting on a discussion document as opposed to a draft government policy statement. Submissions close on Friday, 30 July. We will make a submission.

  • 28 Jul 2021 12:25 PM | Anonymous

    The government released an exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environments Bill (the Bill) on 29 June. The resulting Natural and Built Environments Act will be one of three Acts to replace the Resource Management Act 1991 (the RMA), the others being the Strategic Planning Act and the Climate Change Adaptation Act.

    The Bill’s proposed purpose is broader than the RMA’s; it emphasises protecting and enhancing the natural environment (instead of just managing it) and considers future generations’ well-being.

    The exposure draft covers land-use and environmental regulation and includes draft clauses on: 

    • the Bill’s purpose and related provisions (Part 2)
    • a national planning framework (Part 3)
    • natural and built environments plans (Part 4).

    The exposure draft marks another step in replacing the RMA, though questions are being raised over how much of an improvement the Bill really is over the RMA, including concerns around further cost pressures on councils and erosion of local democracy.


    The Bill’s exposure draft is a partial one, and the Environment Committee will consider it between 29 June and 18 October. The closing date for public submissions is 4 August. The select committee will report its findings to Parliament. Changes will be made before the entire Bill is formally introduced to Parliament in the first quarter of 2022, followed by the usual select committee process.

    The government is looking to pass the Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill into law before the second half of 2023.

    We ran a survey from 7-18 July seeking member input – thank you to those who completed the survey. We will make a submission on the exposure draft.

    A national planning framework

    The Bill proposes a national planning framework which would have the effect of regulations, i.e. the government will be able to prepare, update or review the framework without going through the Parliamentary process. While it could serve as a key catalyst to making the resource management system agile, responsive and enabling the government to respond quickly, the framework could look very different depending on the government of the day.

    The exposure draft also puts forward a list of indicative principles under Part 2, such as taking a precautionary approach and having particular regard to cumulative effects; one of the criticisms of the RMA has been its inability to account for cumulative effects adequately. Also, this list is more like a shopping list than a key list of principles. MFE need to cut these down to a core few.

    Natural and built environments plans

    A further key proposal in the exposure draft is having planning committees in each region to prepare natural and built environments plans. The proposal follows the Resource Management Review Panel’s proposal to develop one natural and built environments plan per region. The government has indicated it is still considering the best approach to plan preparation and decision-making. It will look to the feedback received from the select committee inquiry. Natural and built environments plans will consolidate over 100 RMA policy statements and regional and district plans into about 14 plans, which the government considers vital to simplifying and improving the integration of the system.

    A concern of the reforms is that there will now be three Acts to navigate and interpret and that this may lead to further delays to planning and developing.

  • 28 Jul 2021 12:22 PM | Anonymous

    The government announced earlier this year it was making a “fresh start” on the Auckland Light Rail project. Transport Minister Hon Michael Wood said this was because the previous process had not involved Aucklanders enough. The government subsequently set up the Auckland Light Rail Group to develop a business case and make recommendations. The group consists of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, the Ministry of Transport, Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, and Kāinga Ora.

    Auckland’s light rail will run from the city centre to Māngere and is intended to provide the backbone for future light rail to North and North-west Auckland.

    The group is currently holding community focussed “listening” sessions until 31 August to understand what people want and build the project’s social licence.  This engagement period is about finding the solution that gives the best transport, access, urban development, economic and environmental outcomes for everyone.

    The Auckland Light Rail Group will include the feedback into its business case and it expects to provide its recommendations to the government in September. We encourage you to visit the light rail website and complete the online feedback form.

    The government will make a decision about the route, mode and delivery entity later this year.

    Later phases of consultation will address more detailed issues like the location of stops or stations and how disruption will be managed.

    Infrastructure New Zealand will be holding a member event in August on the Auckland Light Rail. More details to be released soon.

  • 28 Jul 2021 12:18 PM | Anonymous

    The Climate Change Commission’s final advice to the government on how New Zealand can reach its climate target was tabled in Parliament last month. The government now has until 31 December 2021 to set the first three emissions budgets out to 2035 and release its first all-of-government emissions reduction plan. If it chooses not to accept the commission’s advice, it must publish an alternative plan for addressing climate change in New Zealand and reaching its targets.

    Work on an emissions reduction plan has already begun. The plan will include a chapter on transport and the Ministry of Transport recently consulted on a consultation document Hīkina te Kohupara – Kia mauri ora ai te iwi - Transport Emissions: Pathways to Net Zero by 2050. The consultation document focussed on identifying opportunities to reduce emissions across three themes: changing the way we travel; improving passenger vehicles; and supporting a more efficient freight system. Submissions closed late last month and we made a submission primarily focussed on the need for integration between urban, transport and land-use planning, and broadening the first theme to ‘changing why and the way we travel’. Full public consultation on initiatives to reduce transport emissions will occur in the second half of this year and then refined further for inclusion in the transport chapter of the emissions reduction plan.

    The Climate Change Commission will begin monitoring how the government’s emissions reduction plan is being implemented from 2022, including how well New Zealand is tracking to meet the 2050 net zero target.

  • 28 Jul 2021 12:15 PM | Anonymous

    The process of councils consulting on and adopting their long-term plans has concluded. Long-term plans are councils’ 10-year budgets which are renewed every three years. The themes of emissions and climate change, environment, infrastructure, COVID-19 impacts and recovery have been consistent across the plans, with rates rises remaining a contentious issue for ratepayers. Some commentators have expressed their amazement as to how easily councils can increase rates – often significantly – with negligible to no pushback from those who pay them.

    Alongside long-term plans, regional councils and Auckland Transport have also adopted their respective regional land transport plans (RLTPs). RLTPs lay out a region’s land transport objectives, policies, priorities and measures for at least 10 years. They include capital as well as operational spending and identify a range of projects, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the detail. Some much bigger and potentially contentious projects, even projects without confirmed funding, can be timed for later years and then again pushed out in the following iteration resulting in a vicious cycle.

    In the case of Auckland, a decision to introduce congestion charging will have significant implications for the RLTP; not only will there be a need for infrastructure to establish and run a pricing scheme, but increased investment will also be needed to cater for the increased mode shift that will result from congestion charging. The newly adopted RLTP does not include the cost of implementing congestion pricing.

    Meanwhile, Parliament’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee is undertaking an inquiry into congestion pricing in Auckland at the request of Transport Minister Hon Michael Wood. We made a high-level submission in May. The select committee is expected to report back later this year.

  • 28 Jul 2021 12:12 PM | Anonymous

    The government has made a number of recent announcements regarding its proposal for three waters reform.

    The government is proposing to create four large publicly-owned water entities to take on the role of public water providers in New Zealand. A $2.5 billion package has also been announced for councils who participate in the reform programme – $500 million will be spent on supporting councils through the transition process and to ensure the reform’s financial impacts will be managed, and $2 billion will be awarded to councils to invest in the future for local government, urban development, and their communities’ wellbeing.

    Details of how the package will be divided across councils or how exactly growth-related infrastructure would be funded is not yet clear. It is too early to speculate on how successful the reform programme will be given the response from several councils continues to be lukewarm. The possibility of the reform being mandated by the government is a possibility.

    Infrastructure New Zealand, in conjunction with co-hosts Chapman Tripp, held a lively question and answer session with Hon Nanaia Mahuta last Thursday (22 July). The event was well-attended, and the Minister used the opportunity to reflect on the progress and implications of the Three Waters Reform Programme.

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