Welcome to the March newsletter for The Policy Observatory. We look ahead to an upcoming event, report back on a couple of past events, and profile the latest Briefing Papers.

Ann Pettifor to visit New Zealand

UK economist Ann Pettifor visited New Zealand in 2016 as a guest of AUT and The Policy Observatory. Ann is an engaging speaker and a specialist in monetary policy and debt. Her 2016 engagements are listed here:


In April, Ann is back in New Zealand for a brief visit to deliver a keynote address on the role of money and debt in housing market (un)affordability to the Institute of Directors leadership conference: http://www.iodnzconf.org.nz/. Ann has also agreed to give a seminar at AUT on either Monday 9th April or Wednesday 11th April, details TBC, likely during the day. Keep an eye on our website for more information: https://thepolicyobservatory.aut.ac.nz/

Housing matters event

On the 1st March, The Policy Observatory hosted an event on the opportunities and obstacles for medium-density housing in New Zealand. The event, “Housing Matters: Delivering Good Medium Density Community Housing”, was co-organised with Beacon Pathway, an NGO at the forefront of sustainable community housing solutions, with support from BRANZ, Resene and Community Housing Aotearoa.

Verney Ryan (Beacon) started the event with a call for more innovation – in housing design, in community delivery, in financing models. Dr Bernadette Pinnell (Compass) talked of “the missing middle” in the housing debate – that is, the wide spectrum of options available between low- and high-density housing. Finally there was a lively panel discussion which captured the enthusiasm for medium-density housing, but also the regulatory obstacles that providers are facing. Among others, Jade Kake (Te Matapihi) discussed her innovative work on papakāinga developments, and Anahera Rawiri (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei’s Whai Rawa Ltd.) discussed how manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, warmth, care and sustainability contribute to the designing of Ngāti Whātua’s building projects.

Video of the event will be available soon.

Impact investing event

On the 7th March, The Policy Observatory hosted the Impact Investment Network (IIN)’s inaugural networking event. With support from the Ākina Foundation, the sold-out event was an opportunity for people engaging in the emerging impact movement to share ideas and to build networks.

Sam Lindsay began with an overview of impact investing, with a particular focus on the lessons to be learned from overseas. David Woods followed, director of Ngai Tahu’s Whai Rawa Ltd. and a member of IIN’s steering group. He offered his perspective of the opportunities for impact investing in New Zealand, and provided updates on IIN’s development. This was followed by a panel discussion featuring Alastair Rhodes (Chief Executive, Baytrust), Nina Gené (CEO, Jasmine Social Investments), and Rangimarie Hunia (Chief Executive, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei’s Whai Maia). Rangimarie reminded us that environmental and social alignment is fundamental to a kaupapa Māori approach to investment. Finally, Roy Thompson (Co-founder & Managing Director, New Ground Capital) discussed their investments in community housing, and The Policy Observatory’s David Hall presented his collaborative work (with Sam Lindsay) to develop New Zealand’s first environmental impact bond, which is designed to unlock private capital for establishing permanent native forest on marginal erosion-prone land.

For further information, see the IIN website here. If any AUT colleagues are interested in impact investing and climate-aligned financing, please contact The Policy Observatory’s David Hall (david.hall@aut.ac.nz); or 09 921 9999 ext 8455.

Auckland urban forest strategy

On 20th February 2018, Auckland Council’s Environment and Community Committee approved a strategy for Auckland’s ngahere or urban forest. This was developed by Auckland Council in collaboration with The Policy Observatory’s David Hall, who consulted on the strategy’s development throughout 2017, especially on the overarching vision and a framework for the urban forest’s ecosystem services. For more information, including a draft copy of the strategy, see the Environment and Community Committee agenda and minutes here.

Briefing Papers

The Briefing Papers website hosts new papers most weeks. You can subscribe to new posts using an RSS feed, or have them sent to your mailbox. Latest papers include:

Food for thought: Free of charge school lunches. By Pii-Tuulia Nikula

Many developed countries provide school students with free of charge school lunches. In this paper, Pii-Tuulia Nikula looks at the case for the universal provision of free of charge school lunches for New Zealand and how the system works (and doesn’t work) in Finland.


Design for well-being. By Gayle Souter-Brown

As the government embarks on an expanded housing building programme, and the rebuilding of schools continues, Gayle Souter-Brown raises the issue of environmental design and explains how getting this right is important to health and well-being.


Saving local democracy: An agenda for the new government. By Mike Reid

What does the change of central government mean for local government? In this Briefing Paper, which links to his longer report for The Policy Observatory [here], Dr Mike Reid writes about the need to restore local-level democracy.


From Universal Basic Income to public equity dividends. By Keith Rankin

Keith Rankin is well-known for advocating a Universal Basic Income, using the term as far back as 1991. But he now de-emphasises that name, preferring instead tax-benefit reform that takes the form of a public equity dividend. This is more than just semantics; it’s about how we conceptualise the relationship of citizens to the world they inhabit.


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