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8 ways the Big New Zealand Upgrade will make life better for Kiwis

The Government has announced the biggest investment in New Zealand’s infrastructure in a generation with the New Zealand Upgrade Programme.

This $12 bn investment programme to build and upgrade roads, rail, schools and hospitals will help to support businesses, create local job opportunities and future proof the economy.

After nine years of neglect, it’s going to take some time to tackle some of the long term challenges facing Kiwis, but we’re committed to delivering a better life for all New Zealanders.

Read below for eight simple ways the Big New Zealand Upgrade is going to change New Zealand for the better...

1. Getting our towns and cities moving

We know that people are busy and that when you’ve got somewhere to be, you don't want to waste valuable time stuck in traffic. Congestion and a lack of choice when it comes to transport is a major long-term challenge that our Government has been working hard on since day one. This investment builds on the work we’ve already done, by making it easier for people to bus, drive, train, bike or walk to their destination.

Our new roads and rail projects will speed up travel times, ease congestion and make our roads safer by taking trucks off them and moving more freight to rail. All new four-lane corridors built through the Big NZ Upgrade will have two lanes for general traffic – the remaining two lanes being used to prioritise things like public transport services, for use by vehicles carrying multiple people, and possibly to support freight.

Unlike National’s ghost roads at the last election, these projects have real money behind them. The projects that came under the previous government’s roads of national significance have been redesigned and future-proofed so that they will have public transport and walking and cycling infrastructure included. Our projects are better, faster, and funded.

2. Making it safer to get around

Safety is a big focus of the Big New Zealand Upgrade. Where lives are being lost and people seriously injured on our roads, we’re investing in improvements that will reduce road trauma – and build travel choice into the transport system. Road safety has been a huge priority for this Government from the beginning, such as with our Road to Zero road safety strategy.

Some of the safety upgrades include the new transport corridor south of Whangarei, a new roundabout to make travel safer through the notorious SH1/SH29 intersection, and the new 6.8km Tauranga Northern Link and 7km SH2 Te Puna to Ōmokoroa corridor. These are just a handful of examples of how the Big New Zealand Upgrade is going to make it safer for you and your loved ones to get from A to B.

3. There's going to be lots more jobs.

NZTA estimates that the transport elements of the Big New Zealand Upgrade will initially create 800 to 1000 direct new jobs in our construction industry as the first five projects get underway in the next 12 months, and 7000 to 9000 opportunities for our wider supply chain. It’s also going to provide opportunities to upskill our workforce and strengthen sector capability. Importantly, this package provides our construction industry with a pipeline of work for the next decade, meaning they can afford to invest in their people and the industry. It’s yet another way we’re supporting Kiwis into work

4. Nearly every state school in the country is getting an upgrade.

We announced this part of the Big New Zealand Upgrade late last year – which means many school communities have already been busy over the Christmas break getting projects underway. Our $400mil investment will mean nearly every state school will receive a cash injection to upgrade their buildings and facilities. No eligible school is receiving less than $50,000, with many schools receiving a maximum of $400,000. Already, local tradies are on the ground in 15 schools across the country. In Auckland, Arahoe School has contracted a local firm to upgrade and reclad five more classrooms, and Rangiora Borough School has started work towards building a new library. Meanwhile, in Hokitika, Westland High School has hired a local firm to build external decking and ranch sliders to outdoor teaching spaces.

This investment in our schools is a win-win across the board: the Government is growing our economy, creating jobs and making our schools great places to learn and the centre of local communities. As the new school year gets underway, we’re ready to get down to business and get many more projects underway across New Zealand.

5. Child and maternity services are getting a much-needed boost.

We want New Zealand to be the best place in the world to be a child. We can’t make that happen unless we invest more into expanded neonatal intensive care to help our most vulnerable new-borns, and in maternity care for expectant mothers. From this package, child and maternal health will receive a $68 million capital boost. We’ve announced the first of major investments in child and maternal health including upgraded neonatal care facilities at Counties Manukau, Auckland, Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast, and investment in upgraded maternity facilities in Tairawhiti, South Canterbury and Hutt Valley DHBs. More announcements in this priority area to come.

6. We're getting better at how we approach mental health and addiction.

Improving support for mental health and addiction remains one of the biggest long-term challenges facing New Zealand. We’re making a record investment in mental health and addiction services – and this investment must include better facilities to support treatment and recovery. We’ve already announced funding to upgrade mental health facilities in Waikato and Palmerston North, as well as new facilities in Tairawhiti. A further investment of $96 million will fund projects such as new acute mental health facilities at Tauranga Hospital, Whakatane Hospital, and Hutt Valley DHB.

7. We're saying farewell to fossil fuels.

We’re making the switch to a clean powered public service. Under this package, our schools, hospitals, and other public institutions will get the support they need to change over to clean energy. Coal boilers are getting replaced with clean energy options at eight schools – with further projects to be announced soon. We don’t need to burn climate-polluting fossil fuels to keep our kids warm in school – there is a better, cleaner way. This part of the package is another step towards making sure that climate-friendly solutions are part of our everyday lives.

8. Our economy will be future-proofed for years to come.

All of the investments in the Big New Zealand Upgrade will future proof the economy and back businesses to grow. Roads, rail, hospitals and schools are all things we will continue to rely on for many years to come – so investing in them is ultimately an investment in our future. We’re thinking long-term – looking thirty years ahead, not just three, and making progress on the things that matter. Our economy is in good shape, and with these targeted investments around the country, it is set to grow further. It’s forecast that these investments will give a $10bn boost to the economy, with further long-term growth beyond that. We’re going to keep managing the books carefully, with debt remaining under control. Low-interest rates mean it’s a great time to invest in long-term, large-scale infrastructure projects that are going to grow and future proof the economy for many years to come.