With key industries reeling from the lockdown and border closures, economic recovery from the pandemic is a major election issue. The current government has increased spending on infrastructure and employment programmes to create more jobs. Its critics say private enterprise is the key to economic recovery, and government should focus on supporting small and medium businesses.
Trade and exports
New Zealand relies on international trade, and negotiators have recently begun work on an agreement with the UK post-Brexit. While opening up new economic opportunities, trade agreements have been controversial and some say rules about investment protection undermine democracy.
With the closure of the borders, the tourism sector is in crisis and domestic tourism is unlikely to make up for the lack of international visitors. The current government has provided some support for tourism businesses, but opposition parties say there are better ways to help the industry weather the crisis.
NZ is regarded by some as a world leader in fisheries management but others say local fisheries are in crisis and blame industrial fishing. Recent regulations required installation of monitoring cameras on some fishing boats but implementation has been interminably delayed.
NZ's exports account for nearly a third of the economy, and 40 percent of all exports are dairy and meat products. But the environmental impacts of intensive agriculture and ongoing exemptions for agriculture from emissions reduction rules have made the industry a site of political conflict.
Planting more trees to absorb emissions is a core part of the government's climate change response and carbon credits have encouraged the purchase of land for forestry. But conversion of agricultural land has been controversial, with farming interests arguing that conversions will destroy small towns.
During the lockdown, the government helped many businesses pay wages while they were closed. As businesses attempt to recover from the crisis, there is widespread agreement on the need for further support. Some parties propose subsidies to hire workers, while others favour providing businesses greater flexibility at the expense of security for workers.
Government revenue and finance
The government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a big increase in borrowing. Opposition parties say NZ must quickly reduce debt or future generations will be unfairly burdened, even if that means cuts to some public services. Parties on the left say cuts to services would make the crisis worse.
Economic development and industry
Research and development credits or subsidies for the private sector have been the favoured approach to economic development in recent decades. But parties are increasingly proposing support for particular industries to shape NZ's economy. And the money put towards the Covid-19 recovery has raised questions about what kind of economy we should rebuild.
Oil, gas and mining
The current government stopped issuing offshore oil and gas exploration permits, but exploration continues onshore. As climate change worsens, there is growing pressure to stop extraction altogether. The question remains how to achieve a just transition to a zero-carbon economy.
The current government established a $3 billion fund for regional development, called the provincial growth fund, which it says has created many jobs. Opponents say the fund is wasteful and the money could be better spent elsewhere.
In the last three years, the government restricted foreign ownership of residential property and land. Limits were imposed on foreign purchases of business assets as part of the response to Covid-19. But some argue NZ should welcome more foreign investment including in reside to increase access to capital.