New Zealanders’ priorities for infrastructure investment shifts after extreme weather events

Author: fatweb


Less than a third (29%) of New Zealanders are satisfied with our national infrastructure, with flood defences receiving the lowest quality rating (18%) among different types of infrastructure and identified as the number one investment priority in the country.

A new 31-country Ipsos Global Advisor survey found that New Zealanders are significantly less satisfied with the country’s national infrastructure compared to others around the world (global country average of 38%). This level of satisfaction is also a significant decrease from 2019 (46%).

The survey – carried out in 31 countries, by Ipsos in collaboration with the Global Infrastructure Investor Association – includes a sample of 1,004 New Zealanders. The survey came after a gap of nearly two years in the Global Infrastructure Index series, and almost three years since a New Zealand report was last published in Nov 2019. Fieldwork was conducted in May-June 2023.

The majority of New Zealanders (61%) believe that the country is not doing enough to meet its infrastructure needs. And in addition to flood defences (57%), new housing supply (51%) was also identified as the highest priority areas for investment.

Our view of the quality of many of our infrastructure has decreased significantly since 2019. These include flood defences (18% rated as very / fairly good), rail infrastructure (35%), local road network (38%), motorway / major road network (46%), water supply and sewerage (57%) and airports (75%).

However, New Zealanders’ ratings of the quality of our renewable energy infrastructure and electric vehicle charging infrastructure are higher than the global country average.

Like others around world, only a minority of New Zealanders (30%) support increased public spending to improve infrastructure, while the majority is of the view that there is already too much public spending, and that taxes and government borrowing should not be increased any more.

Notably however, New Zealanders have a more long-term outlook than the global country average; we are significantly more likely to agree that higher priority should be given to improving infrastructure in the long-term than minimising the cost to consumers and taxpayers in the short-term (45%, cf. 37% global country average).

While New Zealanders are more likely to prioritise environmental impact (41%) over economic impact (35%), in making decisions about how to improve infrastructure, the contrast between the two is lower than the global country average (47% environmental, 29% economic).

Ipsos New Zealand managing director, Carin Hercock, says “The impact of extreme climate change related weather events has seen a significant increase in New Zealanders who want infrastructure investment in the directly related area of flood defenses and directly impacted areas such as roading, however, investment in infrastructure that will help reduce carbon emissions over the long term, such as sustainable energy sources and cycleways are further down the list.”

Amanda Dudding, research director, Public Affairs at Ipsos New Zealand added, “The recent extreme weather events have made New Zealanders look at their national infrastructure in a different light. It has highlighted the level of quality of our flood defences and made New Zealanders realise the need to prioritise them.”



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