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What we heard through engagement

To more fully understand the opportunities available, and what these may mean for Aotearoa New Zealand’s future direction, we sought input and expertise from those with different views and perspectives through a series of targeted stakeholder workshops.[5] 

Analysis of these workshop discussions resulted in some key themes about the core foundations necessary to build productivity:

  • Theme 1 – Long-term investment in improving productivity, taking an intergenerational perspective, is fundamental: Participants expressed concern that the prevailing policy approach of successive governments over past decades is not effectively addressing the “big issues”. Overall, they considered long-term investment (and the right policy environment to foster it) as key to improving productivity.
  • Theme 2 – A willingness to confront high-complexity, whole-of-system challenges is necessary to meaningfully lift Aotearoa New Zealand’s productivity performance: Participants reflected that addressing productivity challenges requires consideration of the broader system barriers – for example, the dynamics of power and constitutional settings that keep things as they are – which may be impeding necessary change.
  • Theme 3 – Aotearoa New Zealand struggles with achieving transformative change and underinvests in building deliberate transition pathways: Participants identified managing change effectively as a key challenge, including how to design clear and deliberate transition pathways for Aotearoa New Zealand to move from one paradigm to the next.
  • Theme 4 – Policies that promote fairness, inclusivity and effective participation by all are foundational for productivity: Participants emphasised social cohesion and the maintenance of the social contract as a core foundation for productivity. In particular, the importance of sustaining levels of trust in public institutions and in government was seen as central to enable continued effective governance. Fundamental to this discussion was recognition that policy settings that erode or are seen to erode fairness, equity and democratic participation result in damage to social cohesion.
  • Theme 5 – Achieving long-term change requires a clear vision for the future: Underlying these discussions was the acknowledgement by participants that having an agreed vision for what New Zealanders want Aotearoa New Zealand to look like in the future is essential to enable prioritisation of effort and investment – and drive improved productivity.

These five key themes resonate with what we know from other sources. Their cross-cutting nature underpins all the opportunity areas presented in the following section. 

More detail about these five themes is set out in Appendix A, and a list of stakeholders we engaged with is provided in Appendix C.

[5] We undertook the stakeholder workshops in October 2023 for the purpose of informing advice on potential topics that could form the basis of a future inquiry for the Productivity Commission. While this advice is no longer needed, we consider that the feedback received remains valuable for the broader purpose of this report.