A non-partisan think tank working towards a sustainable future for New Zealand.

The Institute applies hindsight, insight and foresight to explore major challenges and opportunities facing New Zealand over the long term.


Please note: the website is currently undergoing a refresh.

Working Paper 2020/06 – Letter to the Minister on AgResearch’s approval for GM animals in light of pandemic risk.


Recent Event

On 28 May, 2020 the McGuinness Institute, Simpson Grierson, and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) hosted a virtual roundtable discussion to hear the perspectives of some of the world’s thought leaders on climate change and finance.
Learn more here.

Recent Publications

Report 17 – Building a Reporting Framework Fit for Purpose
(25 June 2020)

Legal Opinion 2020/01
Obligations on directors to report risk in New Zealand annual reports under the Companies Act 1993
(28 May 2020)

Think Piece 35 
Where next? A Garden of Eden or
a Slough of Despond?
(16 June 2020)

Survey Insights
An analysis of the 2020 NZNO PPE Survey in response to COVID-19
(May 2020)

Challenge 1: Pandemic management

The McGuinness Institute has always focused on low probability high magnitude events with a particular focus on New Zealand’s long-term future. The COVID-19 pandemic, declared as such by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 12 March 2020, is one such event.

We feel it is important to place all the Institute’s pandemic management initiatives onto one platform and have established a new research project, PandemicNZ. The project aims to help New Zealand prepare for future pandemics, as well as manage and learn from the current COVID-19 pandemic. The website draws together early Institute publications as well as a comprehensive suite of research and publications into the current pandemic. This includes a number of OIAs, open letters and two reports published in 2006 and 2015 (Managing the Business Risk of a Pandemic: Lessons from the Past and a Checklist for the Future (2006) and Lessons From the West African Ebola Outbreak in Relation to New Zealand’s Supply Chain Resilience (2015) as well as our latest Think Piece 33 – The Long Normal: Preparing the National Reserve Supply (NRS) for pandemic cycles.

The PandemicNZ website will continue to be updated weekly with existing initiatives including the updates to the  Country graphs: Mapping the COVID-19 curves which follows how a number of countries are managing COVID-19 and how this aligns with their ranking on the 2019 Global Health Security (GHS) Index and the average age of the population.

Throughout the year we will continue to collect data and information on how New Zealand and the world has responded to COVID-19 with the aim of preparing Project 2058 Report 19: Lessons for New Zealand from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the McGuinness Institute created SupplyNZ: Winning the war against COVID-19The SupplyNZ website is a sub-project of PandemicNZ and continues to be updated with registrations for individuals and companies to share their production capabilities of PPE and other medical equipment in order to lift the supply chain.

Challenge 2: Climate change

Publication: Discussion Paper 2019/01 – The Climate Reporting Emergency: A New Zealand case study

Climate reporting is an emerging area of study and this paper looks at how we might use the existing complex reporting system to support new climate-related disclosures. We found that New Zealand’s existing system and traditional institutions are not well-positioned to produce a climate reporting standard at present. In response to this finding, the paper outlines four goals to guide the design of a functional climate reporting framework and groups recommendation under each.

External Reporting: Climate-related Financial Disclosures 

This special newsletter contains extracts of relevant research reports,
articles and media releases on the topic of climate-related financial disclosures that the McGuinness Institute has become aware of since September 2019. Click here to read the newsletter.

Publication: TCFD ‘Strategy’ Exercise

Participants of the TCFD workshops took part in scenario-based exercises to explore opportunities and risks to business under different climate change circumstances, and to develop climate-related financial disclosures in line with the TCFD recommendations.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like a hard copy of the discussion paper or if you are interested in meeting to learn more about our research.

Submission: Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill

In response to the 2019 New Zealand Government Discussion Document on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, the Institute prepared a submission which builds further on our recommendations to embed climate-related financial disclosures in the existing reporting framework. The submission presents the view that the External Reporting Board (XRB) should prepare a non-financial reporting standard in line with the TCFD that requires ‘climate reporting organisations’ (selected public and private sector entities) to prepare a statement that will form part of the annual report.

Challenge 3: Foresight Infrastructure 


The Institute has several ongoing, interlinked projects and publications that are intended to contribute to building an efficient foresight infrastructure for New Zealand. Our third challenge looks at ensuring that New Zealand’s information infrastructure, strategic direction, future planning (e.g. scenarios) align with New Zealand’s desired vision for the future.

What do the futures of New Zealand look like?

Devised by a diverse group of 36 young New Zealanders in 2016, the ForesightNZ playing cards instil players of any age with the capability to apply futures thinking, to be innovative and to wrestle with the futures of New Zealand. The pack of 64 is spilt into four categories: Capital Cards (x 4), Event Cards (x 32), Trend Cards (x 25) and Joker Cards (x 3). Capital Cards refer to the four capitals at the heart of the New Zealand Treasury’s Living Standards Framework. Event Cards represent possible events that are categorised into one of four high-impact event types, depending on two factors: how aware society is of the event and the probability of each event occurring. Trend Cards show growing changes or movement in a particular direction over time. The Jokers spur on imagination and enable players to come up with their own events and trends.

You can order a pack of cards on our online store.

‘I am hungry for a vision for our country’

Think Piece 34, prepared by Phil Royal MBA, urges us to pause during these times of complexity, uncertainty and anxiety in order to consider fundamental principles that could form a basic framework for how New Zealand chooses positions itself in the world. He argues that these unprecedented times enable us to reflect on our national identity, and choose to move forward using a set of principles (people-centered, leading environmentally, technologically advanced and forward-thinking, creative and curious) to shape our thoughts, debates and decisions.

The think piece can be read here.

ForesightNZ Survey closes 22 May 2020.

This survey is intended to draw on and further develop discussions from the event Revisiting Tomorrow: Navigating with Foresight, which considered the legacy of the Commission for the Future (CFF) and New Zealand Planning Council (NZPC), held on 30 October 2019 as part of the Institute’s Project ForesightNZ.

Responses to this survey will be used to develop a think piece, to be published in 2020, considering how a new futures thinking institution might be developed for New Zealand. Responses will also be used to help shape future ForesightNZ events held by the Institute. You may like to read the Revisiting Tomorrow Newspaper on the right before completing the survey.

Click here to complete the survey.

Worksheet 2020/01: COVID-19 Exploring certainties and uncertainties

This worksheet encourages you to explore possible medium and long-term futures for New Zealand in a post-COVID-19 world. In times of increasing uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity, it is important to flesh out what we know and what we do not know to help make sense of where we want to go.

The worksheet can be found here.