Media Release: New report explores New Zealand’s infrastructure history and offers valuable lessons for the future

Dr Matthew Birchall
Media Release
14 June, 2023

Wellington (Wednesday, 14 June 2023) The New Zealand Initiative is set to release a stimulating report this Wednesday, shedding new light on  New Zealand’s infrastructure history and providing crucial insights for the future. Authored by Dr Matthew Birchall, Paving the Way: Learning from New Zealand’s Past to Build a Better Future explores the country’s triumphant infrastructure projects of the past and presents a compelling case for replicating those successes.
The report highlights the importance of embracing private enterprise, prioritising localism over centralisation, and fostering a positive approach to growth and development in infrastructure policy.
It explores key developments such as the national rail network, roading, housing, the Think Big initiative, the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and the recent broadband rollout.
Dr Birchall emphasises that while the infrastructure needs of the 21st century may differ, it is crucial to learn from the past and leverage New Zealand’s ability to deliver exceptional infrastructure today.
The report has garnered interest from politicians and industry experts.

Dr Birchall will discuss the report’s findings and recommendations during a webinar on 14 June from 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm. Those interested can register for the event via Zoom using this link:

For more information and to download the report, please visit the Initiative’s website at

For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact Dr Birchall direct on 022 536 2294 or Amanda Boyd or phone 04 499 0790.


About the Author

Dr Matthew Birchall is a Research Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative, focusing on infrastructure and the housing market. A historian by training, Matthew's writing on the British Empire has been published in the Journal of Global History and Global Intellectual History. He was awarded the Royal Historical Society's prestigious Alexander Prize in 2021 for the best scholarly article based upon original historical research. Matthew holds an MA (Hons) in International Relations & Modern History from the University of St Andrews, an M.Phil. in Political Thought & Intellectual History from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in history, also from the University of Cambridge.

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