Impacts and Implications

Cars driving through flooding

Understanding the potential impacts and implications of climate change for New Zealand to support planning and decision-making, and aid adaptation efforts.

Understanding how climate change will impact New Zealand allows us to plan for it effectively.  To achieve this, we need to bring together different types of information and take a ‘big picture’ view of climate change and its impacts.

The programme has identified four areas of particular interest to New Zealanders. These are:

  • Extreme weather events
  • Drought
  • Changes in typical weather patterns
  • Sea level rise.

The programme will be delivered alongside the Engagement and Vision Mātauranga programmes that will connect the science to the experiences, needs, and decision-making processes of various sectors of New Zealand society. 


Research streams

The Impacts & Implications Programme will be implemented via four research streams.  

Targeted Impacts

This stream aims to improve New Zealanders’ ability to consider and evaluate key impacts of climate change, including strengthening links and interactions with the emerging New Zealand Earth System Model.

Tailored Implications

Tailored Implications will assist end-users, stakeholders, and communities build capacity to robustly consider climate change in various decision-making contexts and processes.

Engagement Adaptive Capacity

This work stream will support the Engagement Programme by connecting with Impacts & Implications research and researchers. 

Vision Mātauranga Adaptive Capacity

This will support the Vision Mātauranga Programme by increasing iwi/hapu access to, and collaborations with, Impacts & Implications research and researchers. 


Research themes

The Impacts and Implications programme consists of three inter-related research themes, which are discussed below.

Integrated assessment and impacts

Climate change has impacts across a range of areas. These include:

  • Physical impacts, such as sea-level rise and changing temperatures
  • Social and socioeconomic impacts, such as how the physical changes will impact different groups within New Zealand society
  • Environmental impacts, including how climate change will impact New Zealand’s natural environment.

In order to really effectively model and understand the impacts of climate change this theme will bring together the different impacts and explore how these interact with each other.

Implications and adaptations

The purpose of the Deep South Science Challenge is to produce knowledge that New Zealand communities including Māori, industry, and government groups can use to plan for, and adapt to climate change.

In order to do this it is necessary to involve these groups, and to learn what issues relating to the impacts of climate change are important to them. 

It also requires research into the institutions that facilitate climate change adaptation. That research will analyse both historical responses to environmental threats and the frameworks in which climate change-sensitive decisions are currently made.


Building on existing work

This Impacts and Implications programme will build on an existing four-year project: Climate Changes Impacts and Implications for New Zealand. This project, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, provides a starting point for this programme.

The Climate Change Impacts and Implications project has been undertaking combined modelling of the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems and a series of case studies have been produced.

Visit the Climate Changes Impacts and Implications for New Zealand website


Funded projects


Science lead: Suzi Kerr, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

Programme contact: Wilbur Townsend, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research


Latest news and updates

New report highlights key research questions to help prepare for climate change

The Insurance, housing and climate adaptation report, commissioned by the Deep South National Science Challenge, highlights key research questions to help prepare coastal communities for climate change. 

The report is a collaboration between Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, Victoria University of Wellington and the Deep South Challenge and highlights issues New Zealand may face as it grapples with “increasingly severe risks” for coastal housing particularly sea level rise which is expected to exacerbate the frequency and impacts of flooding and storm surges. 

David Frame: Understanding climate risks makes us all less vulnerable

With the recent storms and floods ransacking parts of New Zealand, Professor David Frame put pen to paper to discuss floods, attribution and the power of citizen science to help us understand our climate and be more prepared.

Recruiting: Senior Communications Advisor for the Deep South Challenge based at NIWA

This is an exciting opportunity to apply your communications skills to a critical environmental science challenge facing the nation and be part of a highly regarded Communications team.