The Government is reviewing the Public Works Act (PWA) 1981 to make it easier to build critical infrastructure in New Zealand.

The PWA provides powers to acquire land for delivering public works, such as roads, schools, and water services. It sets out a process that must be followed to ensure the rights of private landowners are considered and protected, including the payment of compensation for any land acquired.

The PWA is a key mechanism that enables construction and the development of public infrastructure projects. It has not been substantially amended since 1988.

Review focus

The review will focus on:

  • Efficiency – improving processes and removing unnecessary duplication in the PWA
  • Effectiveness – ensuring the PWA is workable, fit for purpose and realises the Crown's ability to undertake public works
  • Clarity – providing transparency and certainty for those using and affected by PWA processes.

The scope of the review is on land acquisition and compensation functions in the PWA – key improvements that will support the delivery of infrastructure.

The review will ensure that due process is taken to maintain property rights and natural justice for all affected parties, and that any proposed changes to the PWA are consistent with existing legal obligations under Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

Expert advisory panel

An expert advisory panel has been appointed by the Chief Executive of LINZ, as the agency responsible for administering the PWA.

Charlotte von Dadelszen will chair the five-member group.

Also appointed are Spencer Webster, Paul Cassin, James Clareburt, and Pat Dougherty.

The panel will provide independent specialist advice on potential reforms to the PWA that would better facilitate infrastructure delivery, while retaining the fundamental principles of the Act.

The panel is convening from July to September.

Download the Terms of Reference for the review:


Legislation giving effect to these changes is intended to be introduced to Parliament in mid-2025.

The public will have the opportunity to submit on any proposed amendments to the PWA through the Select Committee process, expected next year once draft legislation has been introduced.

Introducing the Expert Advisory Panel to the PWA Review

Charlotte von Dadelszen

Charlotte von Dadelszen

Charlotte is a partner in Buddle Findlay’s Wellington property and construction team, and is Wellington Chair of Buddle Findlay’s board of management. She specialises in complex property transactions including disposals and acquisitions, leasing, Public Works Act issues and construction. She has been involved in the development and negotiation of major infrastructure contracts across all stages of the project lifecycle.

Charlotte also provides specialist advice relating to the acquisition of various property rights for infrastructure projects, seismic issues and Māori land issues. She has extensive experience working with the Crown and iwi on Treaty settlements.

Spencer Webster

Spencer Webster

Spencer Webster is Chief Executive of Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore Trust. 

Spencer is a barrister who has specific expertise in Māori land law, Waitangi Tribunal claims and Treaty of Waitangi settlements. He has represented numerous iwi, hapū and entities in relation to Public Works Act matters. He is involved in iwi governance and was a member of the Ministerial Advisory Group for the review of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, the governing legislation for Māori land.

James Clareburt

James Clareburt

James is Group General Counsel at The Property Group, a specialist property consultancy company with particular expertise in providing Toitū Te Whenua accreditation services. James has worked in the Public Works Act arena for almost all of his 27-year career. He has provided advice to deliver land and achieve compensation solutions for many of New Zealand’s most significant infrastructure projects in recent times, including Transmission Gully, Dunedin Hospital, the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquake recovery programs, Waterview Tunnel, and Waimea Community Dam.

He has appeared as an expert witness in numerous Public Works Act hearings and is a regular contributor to development of Toitū Te Whenua published Standards and Guidelines that govern the industry.

Paul Cassin

Paul Cassin

Paul Cassin is a Barrister, Solicitor and Director of Land Compensation Consultants. He has a long association with public works activities, having joined the Ministry of Works and Development in 1982 and been involved in land acquisition for the Clyde High Dam. Paul rose to become Assistant Office Solicitor with specialisation in the Public Works Act, and following the dissolution of the Ministry of Works he set up a legal practice with a focus on land and commercial leasing advice for government agencies.

Paul was retained by the Crown in the mid-1990s to help set up the LINZ accredited suppliers system and was part of the team that wrote the initial Crown Property Standards and Guidelines for the acquisition of land under the Public Works Act.

Pat Dougherty

Pat Dougherty

Pat Dougherty is a Director on the Board of Wellington Water and works as a management consultant. He has over 35 years’ experience in local government including 15 years as a council Chief Executive. He has an extensive infrastructure and asset management background, particularly in the water sector.  

Pat has been a member of a range of advisory groups providing advice to the Department of Internal Affairs on Three Waters Reform. He was a Board member of the Mackays to Pekapeka Expressway Alliance from 2011 to 2017. He is a Member of the Institute of Directors and a Chartered Member of Engineering NZ.

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