Update from NZPI Chair and CEO

03 April 2020

Hi to all NZPI Members in what are unprecedented and uncertain times in the world’s history. A lot has happened in the first nine days of the lockdown in NZ and so the purpose of this communication is to update you all on things NZPI related and share and answer some of the questions we have been asked. As previously advised all NZI staff are working remotely as we adjust our plans and goals in response to the impacts of this global pandemic.


The first question we are being asked is with conference being postponed how do I get my CPD points for the year?

I find it really encouraging that our Members value their membership and do not want to risk it due to a lack of CPD points this year. We also value membership and believe the CPD programme is a critical component of membership that ensures our members remain current with developments in the profession. We also appreciate that many of our members would have gained their CPD through attendance at the now postponed conference
We are working hard to deliver all our scheduled CPD courses, but obviously we have to adapt so we can participate while staying in our own bubble. We are working with presenters to deliver our CPD courses using Zoom.

We think this provides the opportunity for members to engage with the presenter and each other around the ideas being taught without compromising their individual health and safety.

There are some additional benefits to this approach, including increased access to courses as you no longer need to only think about what is available in your region, and a reduced cost for attendance as using Zoom results in some savings which we are passing onto to you as members. To ensure a quality learning experience we are also limiting course sizes. We are working with the presenters for each course to agree the maximum Zoom webinar attendance. Once this is agreed we will update the CPD programme, identifying those courses which will be delivered on-line, the cost of these on-line courses and the maximum attendance at each. Stay tuned for more updates on the CPD programme.

Financial Sustainability of the Institute

Has postponing conference and the expected impacts of the lock down and economic downturn threatened the financial sustainability of the Institute?

This is a good question. Thankfully both the Board and Management have been focused on rebuilding our reserves over the last three years. This situation has definitely impacted our 2020 budget and bottom line, and will continue to impact the Institute, but thanks to this focus on ensuring our financial sustainability over the past three years we have the funds to weather this storm. The Board agreed a new financial strategy for the Institute early last year and it included a new ‘Rainy-Day Fund’ which we could pull on in emergencies. It is safe to say that right now it is raining pretty hard and we expect to completely deplete this fund as we deal with the impacts of postponing conference and adapting our CPD programme to be delivered on-line while still engaging with central government around policy initiatives directly related to RM Reform as well as those related to any stimulus packages designed to restart the economy when this level 4 lock down is over.

While our prudent financial management has cushioned the impact of this pandemic, we do have to face some challenging financial realities. Our budget modelling has looked at both best case and potential worst case scenarios. This modelling indicates we should expect a reduction in income of between 50 and 65% for the 2020 financial year. A number of our expenses are directly tied to income and while these will also reduce accordingly, our fixed costs remain pretty much fixed. This means the forecast reduction in costs is only between 32 and 41%.

In addition to our Rainy-Day Fund we have reserves for normal operational working capital and cashflow requirements as well as a separate Future Fund. Under our best case modelling we will forego the budgeted surplus forecast for 2020 plus significantly deplete the Rainy-Day fund but there will be no impact on the Future Fund or our working capital and cashflow reserves. Under the worst case we will have to dip into our Future Fund as well but still do not expect to need to reduce the working capital and cashflow reserves. Clearly this is not ideal but as has been widely reported this pandemic is expected to result in an unprecedented economic situation.

In summary our prudent financial management over the last three years means we currently expect to have the financial means to operate through this pandemic and beyond, meeting all our operational requirements and continuing to serve and represent our membership. Both the Board and Management are monitoring this situation closely and will be regularly reviewing the budget and our operational results to ensure we continue to operate in a fiscally prudent manner. We will provide further information about how these changes will impact on the Board workplan for 2020 and beyond at the AGM.


How will NZPI hold its AGM given the postponement of Conference and the current lock down?

By the time you read this you should have received an invitation to attend the NZPI AGM. Obviously the current lock down means we cannot host the AGM as a face to face meeting like we would normally so we intend to hold the AGM as a Zoom webinar. You can register to attend here. At the AGM we will report on the 2019 results – you can read about these in our Annual Report which you can download here – as well as provide further information on how the economic effects of the pandemic will change the Board’s strategic work plan for the foreseeable future.


With conference being postponed how are we going to let everyone know who won the NZPI annual awards and scholarships?

We are disappointed to have missed the opportunity to hold our annual gala dinner and celebrate the amazing work being done in our profession all across New Zealand with the presentation of our annual awards. However, we are determined that this pandemic will not stop us recognising these projects. Therefore, we intend to announce all the winners over the coming weeks.

This will start with announcing the scholarship and grant winners at the AGM. We will then announce the Best Practice category winners in Planning Focus and tough our social media, including posting links to their project videos over the next following weeks In week four we will announce the winner of our supreme practice award, The Nancy Northcroft Trophy.

Unfortunately the winners will have to wait until the lock down ends to receive their trophies – they are currently all safely stored in my spare bedroom but as they are not deemed essential products, we can’t even courier them out to the winners. So, we will be working with our branches to hold local events after the lock down ends to present the winners with their trophies, which will allow us to celebrate the winners, albeit on a smaller scale.


What has the impact of postponing conference been and how do we ensure we stay in touch for any announcements about the 2021 conference?

Like you we are very disappointed to have had to postpone conference. We had great registration numbers and it was on track to be the biggest in recent years. The impact of postponement has been minimised thanks to the hard work the national office events team and the local conference support committee have put into building strong relationships with our conference suppliers. As a result, we have been able to transfer the majority of the conference expenses to the 2021 event. We have incurred costs for conference services we have already used such as the design of the conference materials, however these costs will result in reduced costs for these services for the 2021 conference as they work should not need to be redone, merely tweaked to fit the postponed event.

We are extremely appreciative to our suppliers and sponsors for their support.

We are also thankful to all the members who were registered at the time of postponement for their support while we have worked through the process of refunding or transferring their registrations and we look forward to seeing you in Nelson in 2021.

I encourage you to download the conference app as we will now be using this as a primary means of updates about the conference.

Central Government

How is NZPI engaging with central government around the RM Reform that was underway and in relation to any new economic stimulus initiatives they are planning to restart the economy after this pandemic?

NZPI has continued to engage with the RM Reform panel, with the Chair, CEO and Senior Policy Advisor having the first in a planned series of conference calls with members of the RM Reform panel last week. This call built on our submission and we thank all the members who engaged with the us to help shape our submission.
We are also drafting a letter to go to Ministers and senior officials in the relevant ministries regarding the importance of good planning and positive environmental outcomes in any central government stimulus package. Our aim is to ensure any projects undertaken as part of an economic stimulus package are seen as reminders of the good that can come from a bad situation. With this in mind we are pushing for local/regional focus on the identification of projects that are already in authorities long term plans but are not yet funded since these projects have generally been exposed to some measure of good planning just to make the authorities list of planned projects. We are also reaching out to aligned professions and organisations to bring a combined voice of support to our message to central government.


We trust many of your questions have been answered in this update. Please feel free to contact David or any of the national office staff if you have other questions. Finally, as we all consider the way the world has been turned upside down for all of us, those who are coming through this situation relatively well might wish to consider how they can provide support to those who are less fortunate. One simple and effective way is to make a one-off donation to local charities who are providing practical support to those less fortunate such as Kidscan. You can make a one-off donation very easily, just visit their site here and follow the simple instructions. Stay safe and have a great weekend with your bubble.

Karyn Sinclair and David Curtis