Published: 17 NOV 2021
Building and Infrastructure
Water Infrastructure

The New Zealand Government’s strategy for a massive overhaul of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure offers significant opportunities to investors in Auckland.

In New Zealand, water supply and sanitation are mostly provided by infrastructure that is owned by territorial authorities, including city councils in urban areas and district councils in rural areas. As of 2021, there are 67 different asset-owning organisations across the country.

New Zealand’s current water assets are summarised in the table below.

National Performance Review, Water NZ

Source: 2019/2020 National Performance Review, Water New Zealand


Investment partners sought for failing infrastructure

Nationwide, there is widespread evidence of ageing and failing infrastructure for the three water systems (drinking water, stormwater and wastewater), and growing awareness of a multi-billion-dollar national infrastructure deficit. Some local authorities will face huge, potentially unaffordable bills as they tackle these deficits and prepare for large reinvestments.

The Three Waters Reform Programme is a major government programme of nationwide reform. It is proposed that a small number of large, publicly-owned entities be established to own and manage the three waters assets across the country. Asset ownership will be divested fully from the existing territorial authorities. The nationwide reform programme is being developed in partnership with local government, and with iwi/Māori as the Crown’s Treaty partner.

The Government’s ambition is to significantly improve the safety, quality, resilience, accessibility, and performance of the three water services in a way that is efficient and affordable for New Zealanders.

It is estimated that investment of NZ$120–185 billion will be required over the next 30–40 years, including:

  • 280km of drinking water pipe upgrades,
  • 139km of wastewater pipe upgrades,
  • 243 drinking water treatment plant (WTP) upgrades, and
  • 419 wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) upgrades. 

The Government’s funding priorities are for investment into drinking water and wastewater infrastructure first, and then stormwater.


The Auckland investment opportunity and time frame

A 2020 independent review by the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) concluded that the Auckland region should be investing about $300 million a year more than is allowed for in Auckland Council’s current 10-year plan, boosting investment by up to $17 billion over a decade. This is why Auckland Unlimited is seeking long-term investment partners in major infrastructure projects.

Councils were asked to provide feedback on the Three Waters Reform Programme to central government by 1 October 2021. Over the following weeks the Government is expected to announce the next steps, which will likely include details on implementation of the proposals, time frames and responsibilities for any community or public consultation, and transition arrangements.

This is an investment opportunity that will take shape over the next six to 12 months. We will continue to provide updates as the process continues.


Find out more

Contact us to learn more about investing in Auckland, New Zealand.

DISCLAIMER: This article provides general information on potential investment opportunities in Auckland and is not intended to be used as a substitute for financial advice. The views and opinions expressed are those of the relevant author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Auckland Unlimited. Auckland Unlimited disclaims all liability in connection with any action that may be taken in reliance of this article, and for any error, deficiency, flaw or omission contained in it.