Planning & Investment Knowledge Base

Studies, strategies and models: Terms of reference – template


Title of study or strategy

The title of the study, strategy or model development (the ‘activity’) must be meaningful and should first state the location and then the type of activity,  e.g. for a public transport study in Palmerston North the title would be similar to:

Palmerston North city centre – public transport study”.


The title given to the activity should be used consistently on all documentation.



List Approved Organisations (and the NZTA if relevant) involved in the activity.

Key contact for the activity (this needs to be agreed by the organisations involved).


  • Name
  • Organisation
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number, and
  • Email address.


Statement of purpose

The statement needs to outline the intent succinctly, e.g.


“The purpose of the study is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the existing and future transport needs within the Manawatu District. These needs require review due to significant changes in the projected growth of the district from those assumed in earlier studies.”.



This section needs to define the activity objectives:

  • For a study, the objectives should provide clear linkages to an established problem or opportunity.
  • For a strategy, the objectives should provide clear linkages to an established problem or opportunity, and should be to one or more existing studies. The objectives should also clearly link to the NZTA’s Transport Planning Activity Class strategic fit criteria.


Policy context

The policy context should demonstrate how the activity meets national and regional integrated planning objectives. The relationships with higher level documents (including government and regional strategies and policies) should be given. 

The section should also identify:

  • Linkages with key growth and transport strategies e.g. regional growth strategies, regional land transport strategies and any relevant local growth studies, district plan provisions etc.
  • Linkages to the development of sustainable transport solutions including multi-modal activities and demand management.
  • Environmental, geographical and social considerations, and
  • Other past/current/future studies and strategies that this activity links with.


Area covered

Including roads, neighbourhoods or services in the study or strategy area. Clear boundaries should be shown on appropriate plans or maps.


Scope of the activity

The scope should be fit for purpose. It should be clearly shown where pre-existing studies, strategies, plans and models have been utilised. The criteria for determining the requirements for future updating of the activity should be included.  If pre-existing documents are not used, a reason/reasons should be given to support the decision not to use them. 

The following will need to be included:

  • issues to be addressed
  • modes to be considered with reasons, and
  • possible alternatives and options to be considered.



The method used to develop the activity should be stated, including modelling, project management and process for political engagement.


The methodology used should be fit for purpose and should demonstrate how it will achieve value for money and how the activity is to be developed.


There should also be some indication of whether a peer review will be carried out and which aspects will be peer reviewed.


Expected contents

Set out the expected contents of the final activity document.


Deliverables/ ouputs

Detail the expected outputs (this should relate back to the scope and objectives). Deliverables should include an action plan and a funding plan.


Project management

Explain project management arrangements and responsibilities, including:

  • how the activity will be procured
  • the project manager
  • the steering group members



Any items that may pose risks to the activity being undertaken successfully should be identified.


These should include timeframe and budget issues/constraints, together with the likelihood of them occurring and any probable consequences.


Public engagement

Engagement requirements need to be considered on a case by case basis.  While some issues and projects may be considered minor, their impacts may require public input. Similarly, major issues and projects may not warrant engagement where their impacts are not significant.

A communication plan should be outlined, answering 6 key questions:

  • Who needs to know?
  • What do they need to know?
  • Why do they need to know, and why are their responses important?
  • How will we communicate with them?
  • When do they need to know?
  • What action do they need to take as a result of the communication?


Key stakeholders

A list of key stakeholders should be identified, i.e: 

  • the adjoining regional councils and territorial authorities
  • the Approved Organisations in the region, including the Department of Conservation;
  • the NZTA
  • the Commissioner of Police
  • the New Zealand Historic Places Trust
  • the New Zealand Railways Corporation
  • representative groups of land transport users and providers (including representative groups of coastal shipping users and providers)
  • the Ministry of Health
  • the Accident Compensation Corporation
  • the District Health Boards in the region
  • affected communities
  • Maori of the region, and
  • the public in the region.


The level of sign-off required before the proposed options from the study are consulted on should be identified. 



An indication of the budget should be given and, if relevant, an idea of the time commitment needed for consultants. A cost breakdown should also be provided. 


Timetable and costs

A timeframe for the study should be provided, with realistic allowance for engagement and clear completion points given.  The timetable and costs will need to be set against a number of milestones that will need to be defined.


Example of a study timetable:



Key milestone

Likely spend


Meeting of Stakeholders



Draft Terms of Reference



Terms of Reference signed off



Procurement Process



Consultants appointed



Consultation undertaken (if necessary)



Complete study and prepare draft report



Draft Strategy (if necessary)



Draft sent to stakeholders for comment



Comments incorporated






Background and reference documentation.


Two copies of the completed report should be sent to the NZTA’s national office.



Attachments may include:

  • a plan of the area included in the study or strategy
  • a draft multi-party agreement (if appropriate)
  • a list of previous studies, strategies or plans (if appropriate) with a brief description/summary of each
  • a public engagement and consultation plan (if appropriate)
  • any other attachments judged to be relevant.





Last Updated: 21/02/2017 4:49pm