Day Four: Morning Session – Where to from here?


Climate Change Commissioner Professor Nicola Shadbolt reflected on the recently completed COP 26 summit in Glasgow. She noted it was encouraging that New Zealand had moved from a 39% to 50% targeted decrease in emissions on 2005 levels and highlighted the role of business, government, and individuals in contributing to that goal.

She also highlighted the need to build compact, resilient and low emissions cities that reduced private vehicle use, as well as the need to invest in low-emission transport and encourage behaviour change towards greater use of it. She noted how the Commission’s work in this area aligned with the long-term view of the Infrastructure Commission.

Shane Ellison (Chief Executive Officer, Auckland Transport) spoke to ‘The Auckland Transport Story’. He emphasised the role of transport and infrastructure in creating resilience, and highlighted the importance of the Regional Land Transport Plan and the need to collaborate to achieve key priorities in it, including:

  • Addressing environmental and climate change challenges as strategic initiatives
  • Public transport upgrades
  • Supporting placemaking and housing development as Auckland grows to 2.3m people by 2050.

The Building for Broader Outcomes panel was facilitated by Juliet Woodward (Executive Director, Sales, Jacobs NZ) and included Rhyl Jones McCoy (Technical Director for Social Value and Engagement, Social Value Lead, Jacobs Asia Pacific), and Monica Bennett (Director, Thought Leadership, Global Infrastructure Hub).

Key themes included the need to look beyond economic investment and development as a singular measure in building back from the pandemic. The panellists highlighted the importance of including inclusivity, sustainability, resilience and digital infrastructure innovation and the need to embed these priorities at each stage of project lifecycles.

The Sustainable Infrastructure panel was facilitated by Sarah MacCormick (Associate Planner, Beca), joined by John Blyth (Māori Business Advisory Lead, Beca), Caroline Hope (Process Engineer, Beca) and Connon Andrews (Market Director: Climate Resilience and Adaptation, Beca).

There was a focus on te ao Māori and the barriers and challenges to fully embracing it, reflecting that this mindset might be what is needed to start making a significant difference in the sustainable infrastructure space.

The panel reflected a challenge with climate change was that it progressed at a pace that made it difficult for individuals to feel the impact, but that it would be the decisions and actions taken now that would make a difference to our future.


Day Four: Afternoon Session – Building towards the future


Minister of Digital Economy and Communications Hon Dr David Clark discussed the importance of digital technology in the post-pandemic world.

The Minister noted how Covid-19 had increased the importance of digital technology now and in the future. The ICT sector in New Zealand was the fastest growing sector in the economy and the result of such rapid growth was that both the government and the private sector have had to make significant investment to keep pace, with further significant investment still required.

He outlined three themes from the Digital strategy:

  • Trust – in how technology is created, used, and governed.
  • Growth – including the further growth of domestic technology and supporting the rest of the economy from benefitting from digital adoption.
  • Inclusion – the need for all New Zealanders to be able to connect and be included in digital technology.

Dr Catherine Ball (Associate Professor, Australian National University) spoke on emerging technology and infrastructure as a cybernetic system.

Catherine noted the opportunity post-pandemic to think about infrastructure in a different way. Drones, robotics and automation presented some quick win opportunities for New Zealand.

She also highlighted the importance of healthy public debates on emerging technologies to ensure retention of social licence and encouraged infrastructure leaders to think about the use of technology to better design our cities to mitigate social issues like obesity, construction-related health and safety issues and climate change, and to think like futurists – with an eye on asset lifecycles and anticipating change.

A panel discussion on te ao Māori as an integrated approach for delivering infrastructure outcomes was facilitated by Manea Sweeney (Discipline Manager, Horizon Planning, Tonkin + Taylor) and included Rod Oram (Columnist, Newsroom NZ), Dr Jim Mather (Managing Director, Mather Solutions) and Kohe Ruwhiu (Manager, Strategy and Transactions, EY).

Manea began by noting the importance of lineage, whakapapa and te reo Māori to the concept of te ao Māori, highlighting that traditionally, the infrastructure industry had been slow to recognise the value this approach could bring, though there had been increased engagement with te ao Māori in recent years.

Dr Mather focused on uplifting and serving through leadership and governance through a te ao Māori lens, with an emphasis on stewardship. Kohe spoke about the importance of problem-framing to how we enable better infrastructure delivery, and to the value of authentic partnership in leveraging matauranga Māori as a competitive advantage and creating harmony with our environment.

Rod, having returned just the day before from COP 26, spoke to how matauranga Māori had influenced his own understanding of sustainability, and reflected on the combined value of matauranga Māori and western scientific approaches.

New Zealand Productivity Commission Chair Ganesh Nana spoke to many of the key challenges identified during Building Nations – including climate change, social licence and workforce capability.

He emphasised the value of approaches that value partnerships and relationships, and took a long-term view valuing quality over low-cost solutions and wellbeing. He emphasised the role of skills and education in improving productivity and the need to better tailor skills and education for diverse communities.