Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

New Zealand Country Profile

By Fergus Tate, MSc (Eng) Transport Planning and Engineering (1990/91), PhD 2003

Fergus Tate

My current job is working with local government road controlling authorities; the New Zealand Transport Agency is the central government agency responsible for implementing the Government transport strategies and managing the national state highway network.

As National Manager of Traffic and Safety, I am responsible developing and implementing traffic engineering and road safety policy and initiatives on the national state highway network. This includes the development of standards and the development and prioritisation of safety projects, as well as overseeing contract research.

The key transport challenges in New Zealand at the moment include:

  • Funding

    • with a reduction in revenue from transport activity which have reduced due to the global economic issues
    • The draw on government funding related to the rebuilding Christchurch following a series of significant earthquakes
    • The development of roads of national  significance to both stimulate and improve economic efficiency
    • Educating stakeholders around the move to a safe system based approach to managing road safety
    • Gaps in the future population of transport professionals

The major transport initiatives that are currently underway in New Zealand include the development of roads of national significance to both stimulate and increase the efficiency of the national economy and the move to a safe system approach to road safety.

My biggest achievements so far in this country include;

  • The use of high speed geometric data to aid road safety and identify curves that are out of context or have other safety issues
  • The development of a network crash analysis tool sliding windows/strips
  • The development of the New Zealand road infrastructure safety assessment system KiwiRAP and the associated analysis tool KAT
  • Trials of Intelligent Speed Assistance

I believe skills that graduates from ITS can bring to New Zealand include the ability to think about a problem rather than simply following standard operating procedures. Projects in New Zealand are generally small and as a result those working on these projects must typically cover a wide range of activities rather than only working in a single area such as economic evaluation of intersection modelling.

My advice to other people considering a job in New Zealand would be to research the country and culture. New Zealand is a long thin country spanning many degrees of latitude. As a result the climate varies dramatically around the country, from sub tropical in the north to cold ice and snow in the south and areas with generally windy weather in between. Many new migrants are seeking a tropical paradise with a laid back work ethic. Sadly their dreams may not be realised. New Zealander’s typically get more hours than the OECD average and considerably more than the UK, South Africa, Australia and the US. There are also very strict immigration criteria. The size and scope of New Zealand projects is typically much smaller than other countries and there is a need for transport professionals to cover a wide range of sub-disciplines. It would be worth visiting first before planning a move.

My favourite, most interesting facts about New Zealand is that it is an extremely diverse country subtropical in the north to cold in the south. There are a wide range of activities from diving and swimming, tramping and skiing. New Zealand also has a general shortage of transportation engineers and planners.