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New Zealand Standards Executive’s foreword

Standards New Zealand was born from the devastation of the 1931 Napier earthquake and its history charts decades of international engagement, progress, partnership and growth. Since the first New Zealand standard for Number 8 wire, standards have become the backbone of regulatory change and trusted good practice.

Standards New Zealand’s work adds considerable value to our economy and way of life, helping industries and markets thrive, supporting access to international markets for Aotearoa New Zealand businesses and products, and providing assurance and trust to New Zealanders about the quality of goods and services that they consume.

This past year, work has extended into initiatives that will help form how New Zealand grows over the coming decades, particularly regarding renewable energy adoption, expanding electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, adopting hydrogen energy and creating more robust energy-efficient buildings and appliances.

Without standards and the ability to integrate subject matter expertise into all we do, the challenges for our society would be far more significant. Challenges abound, but together we can find solutions based on tried and tested good practice and innovation.

Sanjai Raj

Sanjai Raj
New Zealand Standards Executive
General Manager Market Integrity, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

National Manager Standards New Zealand’s foreword

New Zealand needs standards

One of our most precious commodities is time. Standards are not just outcomes that give guidance, they are also the manifestation of time given by many subject matter experts to impart their knowledge and expertise for the world to benefit.

When I look at the time given this past year by the hundred-plus volunteer committee members, the New Zealand Standards Approval Board and Standards NZ’s staff and see what has been achieved, I feel heartened. That time has been invested in developing solutions that will result in better ways to build, manufacture, run businesses, farm, transit, reduce waste, and live in a rapidly changing world. Standards are the hidden tools that help us meet national and international obligations, including the reduction of carbon emissions.

Our ongoing partnerships with regulators, especially building, energy safety and energy efficiency regulators, will help those industries integrate new technologies and practices for safety, efficiency and sustainability. Standards remain effective tools for regulatory systems, and we have sponsorship agreements in place for pre-funded access to support users to do the right thing.

Challenges and opportunities

Our new five-year strategic plan, developed this past year, reflects the challenges and opportunities of our changing climate, the shifting operating landscape and customer needs. This past year we celebrated our 90th year, but there is no time for complacency. We’ll need to evolve and further mature for financial sustainability, to ensure standards are digitally accessible to meet the needs of users, to ensure standards are recognised and utilised as an effective solution in terms of climate change and economic growth, and to provide exceptional customer service.

The value in having an independent national standards body and participation in international standards is unquestionable. However, our funding model and the economic climate we operate in do pose a challenge for our future sustainability and adaptability to provide a competitive, modern service.

For a small nation, Aotearoa New Zealand has a big impact on the world stage. There is also much we can offer to our Pacific Island neighbours, who are seeking support to build their standards and conformance systems, infrastructure, and capability. Inroads have already been established and we are pursuing inter-agency funding support to help share our knowledge and expertise.

Despite the challenges, we remain focused on growth and improvement. Internally, 2023 saw some loss of critical staff and institutional knowledge, enticed by tight labour market opportunities and limitations competing with this. On a positive note, we built internal capability in new areas, including business development, quality management systems and quality assurance, and business systems and commercial services.

Standards NZ exists in a unique position as both a unit within a government organisation (MBIE) and an independent, commercially focused, cost-recovery business. We need to remain competitive in a market where access to subject matter experts’ time is hard pressed, where standards remain largely optional, or where ‘standards’ might be developed independently without integrity, representation, or consensus, or with bias and undue vested commercial interests. With standards necessary for trade, meeting national objectives and consumer protection, these are challenges we must face. We will face them with a dedicated, committed, passionate and capable team at Standards NZ.

Malcolm McMillan

Malcolm MacMillan
National Manager, Standards New Zealand