FAQ: Everything you need to know about the Big New Zealand Upgrade

Today, our Government announced the biggest infrastructure investment in a generation.

We’re investing $12 billion to upgrade and build rail, roads, schools and hospitals across the country – modernising our infrastructure, preparing for climate change and helping to future-proof our economy.

Find out everything you need to know about the Big New Zealand Upgrade here.


What’s included in the Big New Zealand Upgrade?

In December we announced the first part of the upgrade: a cash injection of up to $400,000 for nearly every state school in New Zealand, helping schools upgrade classrooms and catch up on essential maintenance.

Today, we’ve announced more than 50 new upgrade projects across transport, health and clean energy.

This includes: 

  • A $6.8 billion transport package to build new rail and roads, and upgrade old ones, while investing in public transport, cycleways and pedestrian spaces too
  • A $195 million investment in our health system, focused on maternity and child health, mental health facilities, regional and rural services, remediation and compliance
  • The $200 million Clean Powered Public Services Fund to help more hospitals, schools and other public organisations switch to cleaner heating and energy

More projects, including regional investment projects, will be announced soon. You can find a full list of all the projects announced so far here. 


How were these projects selected?

The underfunding we inherited from the previous Government meant there was a lot of need for large projects. Because we have managed the books well, we now have funding for them.

We worked with NZTA to identify significant transport projects that could get up and running from this year — projects that help to support growth and provide better access to a safer, more resilient transport system that offers real choice for how people move around. 

In health, we focused on priority areas of maternity and child health, mental health facilities, regional services and fixing up neglected facilities. DHBs across the country have flagged these as projects needing to be done.

The clean public service projects were chosen because they were ready to go, so it made sense to fund them so they could get on with ending their reliance on coal. They are great examples of the work we’ll be doing – the focus is on how new heating/cooling, vehicles, and lighting can reduce public sector emissions.

We chose to give a cash injection to nearly every state school in New Zealand because a significant portion of school buildings are old and need modernising. The funding is for schools to spend on much-needed upgrades that have been put on the backburner, ensuring our children have modern, healthy spaces to learn.


How long will it take to deliver these projects?

The Big New Zealand Upgrade is already underway! A number of schools have been busy over the summer using the funding we announced in December to upgrade classrooms and teaching spaces, and this is already creating work for local tradies.

NZTA expects five transport projects will get underway this year: SH1 Papakura to Drury, the electrification of Papakura to Pukekohe, completing the Third Main Line, Tauranga Northern Link and the Wellington Rail Package. That’s a significant boost to infrastructure activity around the country.

Some health projects are expected to be delivered quickly too. For large projects or new builds, design and construction phases generally take 18 to 24 months.

We’re keeping a close eye on the programme to make sure that if any projects can be brought forward further, then we’ll bring them forward. Large, long-term infrastructure does take time - but we’re making progress, and getting on with the job.


Isn’t the funding in Budget 2019 enough?

While we’re making progress rebuilding and strengthening our infrastructure after nine years of neglect, there is much more to do. There’s a large backlog of projects that need to be progressed and we’re confident investing now will help future-proof our country for generations to come. It’s a long term programme of work, and we can’t do everything at once – but we’re getting on with the job.


What’s the difference between these transport projects and National’s old RONS and four-lane highways?

National’s wish list was never funded, was never part of the Budget, and their projects failed to plan for the future. We’ve taken transport projects that were on NZTA’s plan, and they’ve been improved by including elements such as walking and cycling infrastructure, bus lanes and safety improvements to reflect this Government’s priorities.

The Mill Road project is a good example of this – we will put walking, cycling, and bus lanes along each side of the road, and median barriers in the middle to improve safety for drivers and pedestrians. Under previous plans this would have been four lanes for cars only, with no thought about future needs like increased bus and e-bike use.


What about the Lumsden birthing unit?

Southern DHB is currently implementing new approaches to maternity care across its large district and the DHB is working with key stakeholders to find workable solutions. Further capital projects will be announced in due course. This could potentially include maternity projects in Southern, Lakes and Waitemata DHBs.


Will replacing coal boilers really make a difference?

We’re really proud that our schools and kids can be at the forefront of leading the Government’s response to climate change.Converting eight schools from coal heating to biomass will save 70 tonnes of CO2 a year – equivalent to taking 308 cars off the road. Converting Ashburton Hospital from coal to a low emissions alternative will save 2,385 tonnes of CO2 a year – equivalent to 981 cars off the road.

Head here to read more information on the Big New Zealand Upgrade Programme.