Plain English Awards

celebrate New Zealand's clearest communicators

Winner: People’s Choice — Best Plain English Communication 2016

NZ Institute of Economic Research

Consumer NZ's Karen McDonald hands over the trophy to Jessica Matthewson, while a chuffed John Ballingall from NZIER looks on


Document name

ISDS and Sovereignty


Judges’ comments

The NZIER report is a breath of fresh air to readers used to struggling through lengthy, jargon-filled advisory documents. The authors have done the work — as expert advisors should always do — of crafting a complex topic into simple but sophisticated written advice.

If this style of advisory writing was the norm rather than the exception, decision makers across New Zealand would not only be better informed, they would have more time and energy available to think about what to do with the advice they receive.


Media release

NZIER is thrilled to have won the WriteMark New Zealand Plain English Awards People’s Choice — Best Communication category.

Let’s be honest, economics is seldom fashionable. And understanding the implications of free trade agreements is rarely on the public’s to-do list. But the public and political debate around the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement brought both economics and trade policy into sharp focus.

Phrases like “Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)”, “expropriation of Intellectual Property” and “threat to New Zealand’s sovereignty” were heard around many water coolers. Misinformation was rife, and social media newsfeeds were full of alarmist, apocalyptic rhetoric.

NZIER wanted to provide an independent contribution to this debate. We aimed to translate some of the complex concepts and jargon that characterise the ISDS provisions of TPP into plain English. We added empirical data where we could to support our views.

Our main message was simple: there are risks associated with ISDS; but they are manageable.

We are delighted to have been recognised by WriteMark New Zealand for this piece of work, and pleased to have made a small contribution to the public debate on TPP in New Zealand.

We will continue to make clear communication a priority at NZIER. Economic analysis lacks effectiveness if no one understands it. We know that our reports need to be crisp and clear to help busy decision-makers. Our aim is to make economic issues accessible and interesting so that the New Zealand public can engage on them with confidence.

For further information, please contact:

John Ballingall
Deputy Chief Executive
021 606 477
John.ballingall@nzier.org.nz