The ongoing maintenance and management of major infrastructure assets in New Zealand is on a downward spiral and will create major issues for NZ Inc in coming years.

That’s the key message from Āpōpō, the industry leading association for asset management professionals in New Zealand.

Āpōpō president, Gary Porteous, said New Zealand is dropping the ball when it comes to investment to look after our declining infrastructure.

He said this was highlighted by NZTA acting chair, Cassandra Crowley, who told a select committee hearing recently that “Our funding system is strained because of a combination of past under-investment in asset management, inflationary pressure on costs and more frequent and extreme weather events.”

Porteous said unless New Zealand has a better plan for investing in and prioritising the management of existing infrastructure assets like roads, pouring more money into new infrastructure is sending good money after bad.

“Yes, the country needs some new infrastructure, but we also need sufficient investment to look after what we’ve already got, and a good master plan to bring that together with the new infrastructure we need to build.

“So, I cautiously welcome Transport Minister Simeon Brown’s approach in the draft 2024-2034 Government Policy Statement on Land Transport as a great start to balance new investment in asset maintenance and resilience with building new infrastructure.

Porteous spoke at the RIMS Forum, a transport network and systems conference organised by Āpōpō, held on 13-14 March at Waipuna Conference Centre, Auckland.

Transport Minister, Hon Simeon Brown, also spoke at the conference, outlining the Government’s transport infrastructure programme.

Porteous says NZ Inc needs to do four things to improve its collective decision making:

  1. Ensure all the players are conversant in the infrastructure management process, understand the role they play, and the consequences of their decision making.
  2. Build assets with a long-term life cycle in mind, with a focus on the quality of newly built infrastructure.
  3. Secure the appropriate operations and maintenance funding for our current portfolio of infrastructure, and for any new infrastructure that is being built.
  4. Create better systems to report on the current state of infrastructure, and what will happen to it based on investment forecasts.

“It wouldn’t hurt to take a leaf out of the books used by the early Greeks and the Romans.  Plenty of their infrastructure assets are still around after more than a thousand years,” he said.

“We need to take the same long-term view – build to deliver life cycle value, rather than the cheapest option, and then actively manage and maintain what we build to maximise the value of that investment over as many years as possible.”

New Zealand has around $300 billion of infrastructure assets, 70 per cent of which are owned by central and local government.

For more information, or to speak with Gary Porteous, please contact:

  • James Paul: 022 514 0716