We are a non-partisan think tank applying hindsight, insight and foresight to explore major challenges and opportunities facing New Zealand over the long term. 

We are committed to positively influencing public policy by empowering New Zealanders to have the uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations that are required to enable New Zealand to realise its potential.

Risks hiding in plain sight

Discussion Paper 2024/01 – Risks hiding in plain sight: Does a commitment under the Paris Agreement to purchase offshore carbon credits create a requirement to report that commitment in the financial statements of the New Zealand Government?

It has been a journey. Lay Wee Ng and I started this paper in 2021. An early draft was distributed in 2022. A final draft was distributed in March 2024, and by June – the paper is ready. It has been a long time coming, but we hope the final paper will contribute to a wider discussion on reporting risk in the financial statements of the New Zealand Government.

Discussion Paper 2024/01 FINAL

This is a technical accounting paper that explores whether a commitment by the New Zealand Government to purchase offshore carbon credits to offset emissions should be reported in the financial statements of the New Zealand Government (the overarching accounting problem). It applies current accounting standards to the issue and concludes that a commitment should be recognised as a liability and/or contingent liability in the financial statements of the Government of New Zealand.

Final publication date: 18 June 2024, 11.00am
Download (Final, PDF)

See the press release here.

Figure 4.1: Scenario A: The demonstrative pathway, and Scenario B: The tailwinds pathway

Figure 4.1 is an excerpt from the final Discussion Paper 2024/01. It illustrates Scenario A: The demonstrative pathway and Scenario B: The tailwinds pathway. The orange refers to the commitment to purchase offshore carbon credits under two different scenarios.

Figure 5.1: The Government’s financial reporting system

This illustration is published in Working Paper 2024/01 (in press)

Recent publications

Think Piece 41 – Our first Long-Term Insights Briefings

March 2024
View and download on our Think Pieces page

Working Paper 2024/01 – Timeline of climate-related policy (institutions, legislation, international commitments, instruments and Conference of Parties)

February 2024
View and download on our Working Papers page

Infographic – New Zealand’s existing climate strategy as at December 2023

Invitation to comment. This strategy map will form part of Working Paper 2024/04 – Existing climate strategy as at December 2023. We aim to publish the working paper in late April. At that time we will add all the references.

March 2024
Download (draft, PDF, 1 MB)

2023 Highlights

Nation Dates (new)

Published on 4 December 2023, Nation Dates presents timelines of significant events that have shaped Aotearoa New Zealand as a nation. The fifth edition of Nation Dates includes an additional 125 entries, making 857 in total. It includes the formation of government on 27 November 2023.

Threads link related events and illustrate patterns that have formed over time. More than just a record of the past, Nation Dates provides invaluable context for the future at a time when society is facing major questions about the way forward. The 5th edition includes 4 new timelines: a list of national states of emergency (Timeline 12), a series of maps of governance boundaries within Aotearoa New Zealand (Timeline 14), and selected years of government revenue and expenses (Timeline 16) and exports and imports (Timeline 17).

Learn more at www.nationdatesnz.org
Purchase for $40.00.

Foresight Tools

Foresight tools help us brainstorm ideas about the future so we are better prepared for the opportunities and challenges that may arise. It provides the ability to forward engage, interacting early before issues become difficult to manage.

This booklet – the first of three in the series – outlines 20 foresight tools to throw into the mix, while you walk forward into the future.

Purchase for $15.00.

December 2023 newsletter

2023 has been another busy year at the McGuinness Institute.

Moving office, hosting several events, field research in Bhutan, and updating our Nation Dates book series are just a few of the things that have filled our calendar and kept us working hard. For a comprehensive list of our work this year, please see our 2023 work programme.

This newsletter showcases some 2023 highlights and gives insight into our plans. We develop our work programme from conversations with our patrons.

Read the full newsletter here.

Exploring the role of aquaculture in our marine space


As part of recent developments in New Zealand’s aquaculture policy, the Government has put forward a proposal to extend the duration of all existing marine farming consents by 25 years (in addition to their existing consent durations). In practice, this means a marine farming consent that is due to expire in 2040, will be able to continue to operate until 2065. The proposal is intended to provide certainty of tenure for all consent holders and to avoid a “bottleneck” from extending all consents to a specific date. The Institute’s submission (right) opposes the proposal. The submission raises concerns such as: the fact that the proposal treats all marine farms as equal, with the same degree of environmental impact; and limitations on the critical role of public engagement. Refer to Submissions for further detail, including a copy of the one-pager provided by MPI as part of the proposal (found in Appendix 1).

We are also interested in using infographics to illustrate complex issues, as used in Discussion Paper 2023/04 – Exploring the role of aquaculture in our marine space. Although this discussion paper sits within Project OneOceanNZ, it aims to conceptualise the scale and significance of aquaculture management from a range of different perspectives – such as science, climate risks and biodiversity. This version is final; visit Discussion Papers to view and download. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any feedback.

We would like to especially thank the team at Marlborough District Council for answering our many questions. We also appreciate the support and feedback from the Guardians of the Sounds, Kenepuru & Central Sounds Residents Association (or KCSRA), and Clova Bay Residents’ Association (CBRA), and the many other NGO’s that have helped us bring this information together. See OneOceanNZ for more information.

Discussion Paper 2023/04: Exploring the role of aquaculture in our marine space

Latest blogs

How to communicate in a complex world, with Janine Gould

On Thursday 30 November, the Institute welcomed communication expert Janine Gould to share some of her wisdom. Janine has over 30 years of experience in verbal communication skills coaching as Founding Director of Communicate Consultants. Read the full blog.

Learning from the UK Defence Force think tank

The UK Ministry of Defence’s think tank is called the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC). I met with the team at DCDC twice this year, once in Wellington (New Zealand) and once in Oxfordshire (UK). Read the full blog.

Prime Minister’s summer reading list 2023/24

Since 2011, the Institute has sent the Prime Minister a package of books we believe they would benefit from reading over the summer break. As we take a non-partisan approach to our work, we also send copies of the books to the leaders of the other major political parties. The books reflect the themes or ideas we identify each year that shape our work. Read the full blog.

COVID-19 Nation Dates

Project PandemicsNZ

COVID-19 Nation Dates: A timeline of significant events in Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID-19 pandemic is the newest book in the Nation Dates series. This book presents a timeline of significant events that have shaped the COVID-19 pandemic in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is available for purchase for $35.00 on our BigCartel store.

The Institute hosted a book launch for COVID-19 Nation Dates on Thursday, 23 March. This was to commemorate three years from when Prime Minister Hon Jacinda Ardern declared a State of National Emergency for Aotearoa New Zealand at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Brief to the Incoming Government (BIG Ideas)

Project ForesightNZ

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Thank you to all who attended the Brief to the Incoming Government event. The Brief to the Incoming Government is an exercise based upon crowd-sourced ideas that have an overall aim of shaping Aotearoa New Zealand’s long-term future (for the better). Throughout the event, these ideas were collected, considered, challenged and debated between attendees. This process was extremely helpful to test our thinking and help guide our work programme going forward. We wish to thank you all for your insightful participation.

Our new discussion paper proposes a polysolution – a package of BIG policy actions that have scale and together are able to ‘shock’ the emerging polycrisis with a diverse range of actions designed to slow, control and ideally reverse the mass of crises we face.

Discussion Paper 2023/01 – BIG Ideas: Brief to the Incoming Government has been published in a short read and long read form. The long read has 197 references.



Brief to the Incoming Government webinar

Short Read

Discussion Paper 2023/01 – BIG Ideas: Brief to the Incoming Government (Short Read)
Download (PDF, 3MB)

Long Read

Discussion Paper 2023/01 – BIG Ideas: Brief to the Incoming Government (Long Read)
Download (PDF, 6MB)

Policy Projects

Exploring New Zealand’s probable and possible futures
Building pathways to New Zealand’s preferred future
Contributing to an informed New Zealand

Previous presentations that may be of interest

2021 Government Department Strategies Index launch webinar

On 9 June 2022 Wendy McGuinness, Chief Executive of the McGuinness Institute, presented 2021 GDS Index. View her presentation slides.

Long-term Insights Briefings: A novel policy instrument to deal with foresight

In September 2021 Wendy McGuinness, Roger Dennis and David Skilling presented Long-term Insights Briefings in Parliament. Learn more.


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