Infrastructure New Zealand report finds 'extraordinary amount of time' spent on project decision making has cost country billions

A damning new report shows delays to infrastructure decisions have cost New Zealand billions of dollars.

The report commissioned by Infrastructure New Zealand, released on Thursday morning, found the delays were due to political indecision, slow planning processes, a lack of funding and labour and material shortages.

One of the projects, the Waikato Expressway, took 40 years to build.

Infrastructure New Zealand policy director Michelle McCormack said the cost for Kiwis as a result of delays was huge and "worrying".

"It's not just [in] transport, it's other infrastructure areas as well and we just take an extraordinary amount of time to get from consent on a project to actually get it built," McCormack told AM.

She pointed blame at officials for making sure they had "perfect" information on particular projects instead of getting on with the job.

"We're advocating for a more adaptive decision-making process and also more certainty in the pipeline too, so we can actually gear up," she said.

"The infrastructure that we invest in is critical to the country and we've got a massive deficit."

Principal Economics, which carried out the report, noted the failure to complete the Waikato Expressway in a timely manner resulted in New Zealand missing out on $334 million worth of benefits to the economy each year the project was held up. Talks of improving mobility between Auckland and Waikato dated all the way back to the 1970s before the Waikato Expressway idea emerged in the early 2000s, the report suggested.

"While there is always a level of uncertainty involved and further planning is required to address that, there is a large gap of almost 40 years between the initiation of the idea and start of the project in 2009."

Another major barrier was political indecision, the economists found.

"Other issues to address include strengthening the central government’s ability to plan for and procure infrastructure; it's also desired the infrastructure sector’s ability to address skills shortages both locally and offshore is raised," the research concluded.

"Infrastructure New Zealand believes it is time our country caught up and began delivering world-class infrastructure in a speedy fashion, resulting in raised productivity, meeting our climate change commitments and improving the wellbeing of all Kiwis."

The Government last week announced it was investing $192 million into a range of infrastructure projects across New Zealand, expected to enable 11,000 new homes within 15 years.