A new independent infrastructure body, the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission - Te Waihanga, is being established to ensure that New Zealand gets the quality infrastructure investment needed to improve our long-term economic performance and social wellbeing.
On 14 April 2019, the Construction Accord between the Government and the Construction Industry was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Building and Construction, Jenny Salesa. This follows the first reading in Parliament of the Bill to establish New Zealand’s Infrastructure Commission, one of the key initiatives of the Accord. Submissions on the Bill were made between 15 April and 17 May 2019 (the Bill is available online).
The Government announced the form, functions and name of the new body in February 2019, following Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones’ August 2018 announcement of the Government’s intention to create the new body.
It will be an autonomous Crown entity with an independent board of between five and seven members, to bring a range of perspectives, including private sector expertise.
Working with central and local government, the private sector and other stakeholders, the Commission will develop a 30-year infrastructure strategy.
It will also have procurement and delivery support functions. In advance of the Commission being established, the Infrastructure Transactions Unit has been established within the Treasury to provide support to agencies and local authorities in planning and delivering major infrastructure projects. It will move into the Commission once it is established.
Legislation establishing the Commission was introduced in April 2019, and it will be operational later this year. To ensure a smooth transition when the new Commission comes into operation, the Government has already started the process to identify the Chair and Board of the Commission.
A panel of private and public sector experts is guiding the Treasury as it shapes advice on key issues, and supports the Treasury in the delivery of the project. All the panel members have standing and expertise in the infrastructure sector.
The reo Māori name for the Commission, Te Waihanga, means a cornerstone, or to make, create, develop, build, construct, generate. Te Waihanga therefore indicates how significant the Commission will be in shaping New Zealand’s future infrastructure planning and investment.