Maintaining and managing infrastructure assets throughout their entire life is a critical component of addressing the literal cracks, leaks, and other failings now being felt around the country.

So says Āpōpō, which is adding its voice to the growing calls for sound asset management practices to be applied by New Zealand’s infrastructure asset owners.

Their declaration follows Wednesday’s launch of the Helen Clark Foundation and WSP report into the various ways New Zealand can fund and finance essential infrastructure.

The report, Bridging the Infrastructure Gap – Funding and financing for a resilient Aotearoa New Zealand, challenges political leaders and the public to forgo the boom-bust cycle of infrastructure investment and find common ground about what and how to pay for future needs.

Āpōpō President Gary Porteous says that while innovative infrastructure solutions are sorely needed for our growing nation, asset management is also a critical tool for supporting quality of life and wellbeing which is enabled for all by our infrastructure.

“Assets seen as reliable and invisible in the past are now revealed as vulnerable and disruptive as they fail at their end of life or due to deferred maintenance, neglect or poor management.”

“Asset managers throughout the country consistently identify short-term decision-making, often linked to election cycles, as being a significant barrier to making quality decisions about our infrastructure.

“Obviously, that has hugely negative side effects on communities’ connectivity, public health, social interaction, cultural diversity, and economic prosperity.”

The Helen Clark Foundation and WSP report also calls for a long-term bipartisan strategic approach to secure New Zealand’s infrastructure future.

This is critical in enabling the next generations to thrive, Porteous says.

Recent initiatives in roading infrastructure to move to a 30-year planning horizon are in the right direction.  Other areas of infrastructure, including drinking and wastewater planning, need to follow suit, says Porteous.

“If built, managed, and maintained to a high standard, many categories of infrastructure, such as roads and pipes, can have 100-year lifespans,” Porteous says.

“But sound asset management discipline is required for every one of those years; the fence at the top of the cliff.

“This will ensure uninterrupted delivery of service that meets the expectations of those who invested in the future, as well as those who benefit from that investment in the future.

“As central and local governments account for nearly three-quarters of the country’s infrastructure assets by value, our public institutions are obliged to invest in asset management capability and apply sound asset management practices to effectively discharge their responsibilities as asset owners.”

About Āpōpō
Āpōpō is the lead association for infrastructure asset management professionals for Aotearoa New Zealand.  With over 1,000 members from local and central government, suppliers and consulting firms, Āpōpō provides guidance, learning and accreditation to enhance our nation’s capability in asset management.

Cover image credit: Ventia’s submission in the Āpōpō Awards 2024