2020 Annual Report

22 March, 2021

The year 2020 was one none of us will forget in a hurry. Lives were put on hold. Borders were closed. International travel was stopped. Businesses got disrupted.

Like all other New Zealand organisations, the Initiative had to operate out of bedrooms, living rooms, and studies for a couple of months.

But as a public policy think tank, we had the additional task of finding solutions to novel issues: How to preserve jobs when the country was locked down? How to safely restart the economy? How to restore international connectivity without risking public health?

The crisis that gripped New Zealand and the world unfolded apace surrounded by enormous uncertainties. Policy deliberations, which under normal circumstances would have taken years, were compressed into days.

Our team at the Initiative took up the challenge and delivered unprecedented output last year in research, commentary and advocacy. From short papers on specific and urgent questions to research notes, essays and books, we made relevant, timely and impactful contributions to policy decisions.

Despite the dark shadow of Covid-19 dominating the year, we also continued our work on other issues with long-term implications for this country's future.

The Initiative's most significant non-Covid contribution was in education policy. Our innovative model of using data to monitor and improve school performance yielded new results from comparing different school types.

Meanwhile, our critique of student-centered pedagogy, New Zealand's Education Delusion, was a seminal contribution to explaining how our education system operates.

The pandemic is not yet over, but the start of vaccinations globally gives us hope that New Zealand and the world will soon find a path to a 'new normal'.

What this 'new normal' will look like is anybody's guess. But we strongly suspect it will require good policy thinking - and most likely on questions that have also troubled us in the past: How to create good education opportunities for our children? How to make housing affordable for people on all incomes? How to create a vibrant business environment?

The Initiative will be working on these questions with the same dedication to sound research as in the past. And we will incorporate the lessons from the turbulent year that was 2020.

Media highlights in 2020


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