A beginners guide to directions our new Government is taking

Since signing Coalition agreements the new Government has entered a fast lane on exiting a number of projects and programmes that had been expected to help shape future years of urban design in Aotearoa NZ.

Even so, after a change of Government it can be surprisingly difficult to locate wayfinders for the directions being taken. One handy reference with a blow-by-blow breakdown of the way things are tracking is the Wikipedia page titled Sixth National Government of New Zealand

The Coalition Agreements

The first signposts were of course the Coalition agreements, namely:

  • The National-ACT Agreement – PDF link
  • The National-NZ First Agreement – PDF link

These were also coupled with the 100 day plan. Key sections from the Coalition Agreements of interest to UDF members are copied at the bottom of this page. 

Who’s Who: The Ministerial line up

A PDF of the Ministerial list issued by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on 26 January is available here. In terms of the Minister who holds most power and influence over urban development that would be the Hon. Chris Bishop, National, as the holder of these three pivotal portfolios:

The Hon. Simeon Brown, National, holds the next biggest set of reins of interest to UDF members, as the :

The Hon. Shane Jones, NZ First, has returned as Minister for Regional Development

National’s Chris Penk is a Minister outside Cabinet and is:

The Hon. Penny Simmonds, National, is the Minister for the Environment – and is also a Minister outside Cabinet. 

As at 18 March, Mr Bishop’s biggest move to date is the Fast Track Approvals Bill. This was announced under the headline ‘One-stop-shop’ to cut through red tape to get major projects under way. He also set out an agenda in a speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce that spoke to urban development on 27 February. The Spinoff’s Joel MacManus responded to this speech in an article titled A housing minister for the New City and a response from Greater Wellington Regional Council councillor Thomas Nash was published as Three key questions for Chris Bishop’s plan to grow our cities.

The Government has created a new portfolio – a Minister for (outer) Space. Unfortunately there is no Minister for Public Space!

The BIMs: Briefings to Incoming Ministers from agencies

BIMs can be enlightening but also frustratingly lightweight and hard to find. The Beehive doesn’t yet have a full set located on its website. Two listings of BIMs are available on the Treasury website and MBIE website

Here are some shortcuts: 

  • The Ministry for Housing and Urban Development (HUD)* briefing for incoming Ministers – PDF link
  • Kāinga Ora* briefing – PDF link
  • The Treasury’s briefing to the Minister for Infrastructure – PDF link
  • The Infrastructure Commission’s briefing to the Minister for Infrastructure – PDF link
  • The Ministry for the Environment’s Briefing for Incoming Ministers across Environment, Climate Change and
    RMA Reform – PDF link
  • The Ministry of Transport’s BIM split into Strategic Briefing (PDF link) and System Briefing (PDF link)
  • Waka Kotahi’s briefing to the Minister of Transport – PDF link 
  • The Department of Internal Affairs’ briefing to the Minister for Local Government – PDF link
  • MBIE’s briefing for the Minister for Auckland – PDF link
  • MBIE’s briefing for the Minister for Regional Development – PDF link
  • MBIE’s briefing for the Minister for Building and Construction – PDF link
  • LINZ’s briefing for the Minister of Land Information – PDF link

*. Note: The Government has commissioned an independent review of Kāinga Ora to look into the Crown agency’s financial situation, procurement and asset management. The review is being supported by HUD and the Treasury with a report to the Government scheduled for March/April 2024. The review panel is being led by former Prime Minister Sir Bill English. The other panel members are Simon Allen and Ceinwen McNeil.

If UDF members have suggestions for additions or corrections to this list please email media@urbandesignforum.org.nz 

The lie of the land: 

National-ACT Agreement EXCERPT  PDF link

National-NZ First Agreement EXCERPT PDF link

National’s Going for Housing Growth policy will now accommodate the ACT/National agreement to make the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) optional for councils, and to consider sharing a portion of GST collected on new residential builds with councils.

The Coalition Government will also progress the following additional policies which are a priority for the ACT Party in this Parliamentary term:

  • Legislate to improve the quality of regulation, ensuring that regulatory decisions are based on principles of good law-making and economic efficiency, by passing the Regulatory Standards Act as soon as practicable.
  • Immediately establish a new ministerial portfolio for Regulation.
  • Repeal the Natural and Built Environment Act 2023 and the Spatial Planning Act 2023 by Christmas.
  • Amend the Resource Management Act 1991 to make it easier to consent new infrastructure including renewable energy, allow farmers to farm, get more houses built, and enable aquaculture and other primary industries.
  • Replace the Resource Management Act 1991 with new resource management laws premised on the enjoyment of property rights as a guiding principle.
  • Institute long-term city and regional infrastructure deals, allowing PPPs, tolling and value capture rating to fund infrastructure.
  • Introduce financial incentives for councils to enable more housing, including considering sharing a portion of GST collected on new residential builds with councils.
  • Legislate to make the MDRS optional for councils, with the need for councils to ratify any use of MDRS, including existing zones.
  • Remove the Kāinga Ora Sustaining Tenancies Framework and ensure appropriate consequences for tenants who engage in repeated antisocial behaviour.
  • Explore allowing home builders to opt out of needing a building consent provided they have long-term insurance for the building work.
  • Work with Auckland Council to implement time of use road charging to reduce congestion and improve travel time reliability.
  • Cease implementation of new Significant Natural Areas and seek advice on the operation of existing Significant Natural Areas as part of the Government’s programme to reform the Resource Management Act.
  • Build infrastructure with 13 new Roads of National Significant and four major public transport upgrades.
  • Amend the Building Act and the Resource Consent system to make it easier to build granny flats or other small structures up to 60sqm requiring only an engineer’s report.
  • Establish a National Infrastructure Agency under the direction of relevant Ministers, to coordinate government funding, connect investors with New Zealand infrastructure, and improve funding, procurement, and delivery to:
    • Prioritise regional and national projects of significance.
    • Facilitate or procure funding for regional and national projects of significance.
    • Procure from government agencies for appropriate Crown projects.
    • Oversee procurement from the private sector.
    • Prioritise strategic infrastructure to improve the resilience of heavy industry in New Zealand.
    • Establish a Regional Infrastructure Fund with $1.2 billion in capital funding over the Parliamentary term.
  • Repeal the Natural and Built Environment Act 2023 and the Spatial Planning Act 2023.
  • Amend the Resource Management Act 1991 to:
    • Make it easier to consent new infrastructure including renewable energy, allow farmers to farm, get more houses built, and enhance primary sector including fish and aquaculture, forestry, pastoral, horticulture and mining.
    • Streamline the plan preparation process in Schedule I of the RMA.
    • Simplify the planning system and related statutes including the Public Works Act and the Reserves Act.
    • The Parties commit to establish a fast-track one-stop-shop consenting and permitting process for regional and national projects of significance. The process will include a referral by Ministers for suitable projects. A Bill to introduce this process and make other essential statutory amendments will have its first reading as part of the government’s 100 day plan.
  • Commence an urgent review into the implementation of the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity before any implementation.
  • Replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater to better reflect the interests of all water users.



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