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Celebrating Civil Construction Excellence

The rescue of a Wellington icon, an infrastructure response that moved mountains, and a project with an outstanding safety culture were amongst the winners of the 42nd Civil Contractors New Zealand Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards.

Held at The Contractors’ Conference in Wellington on 30 July, the awards celebrated the best of New Zealand’s civil construction industry.

Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Silcock says the accolades celebrate the ground-breaking skill and ingenuity Aotearoa’s civil construction industry has to offer.

“These companies and the projects they work on are the foundation of our strong economy and vibrant communities.

“I’d like to congratulate all our winners and finalists for the fantastic jobs they’ve done to transform, connect and power our country, particularly in the tough conditions of the past 18 months.”

Category 1: Projects with a value of up to $2 million – Isaac Construction for Peninsular Connection 7

Isaac Construction’s work on the Peninsular Connection 7 project in Dunedin won the Category 1 award for best project with a value of up to $2 million. The project had a complex scope and took place on a dangerous stretch of road, which is now safer thanks to widening, shared pathways and the construction of a sea wall.

The Peninsula Connection project in Dunedin was designed and constructed across a number of stages. The scope included road widening, shared pathways, sea wall construction, reconstruction of existing driveways and side streets, including line marking, signage, street furniture, roadside barriers, landscaping and all related safety improvements.

Liaison with utility companies was critical and effective to enable relocation of existing services. Not only did this project enjoy a high level of public scrutiny, but it was a dangerous section of road that locals had been campaigning to fix for some time. Isaac managed all risks to deliver this integral community asset.

Category 2: Projects with a value of between $2 to $5 million – Brian Perry Civil for Days Bay Wharf Repair and Refurbishment

Brian Perry Civil took out first place in Category 2 for projects with a value of between $2 and $5 million for work repairing and refurbishing Days Bay Wharf. They rebuilt the 125-year-old Wellington icon using a methodology that ensured not a single sailing of the regular passenger ferries was disrupted. That approach minimised disruption during the two-year-long project, which began in April 2019.

Their environmentally friendly and heritage focused approach appealed to the client, Hutt City Council, building with recycled timber and re-using old materials. Precast concrete edges were replaced with recycled timber edge beams to regain the wharf’s heritage value.

The site team built and maintained an excellent relationship with East by West Ferries, consulting with the company about moving the ferry berthing location as required.

As well as the usual challenges of working safely over water, the project team had to contend with Wellington’s renowned rough weather and the Covid-19 lockdown.

Category 3: Projects with a value between $5 to $20 million – Downer NZ for Tekapo A New Intake Gate

Downer NZ won Category 3 for projects with a value between $5 and $20 million for its work on a major new intake gate for the Tekapo Power Scheme at Lake Tekapo. The 50-tonne gate will stop downstream water inflows of up to 680 million tonnes – a unique feat of engineering that will protect one of the South Island’s key hydropower schemes in the event of emergencies.

There were significant engineering challenges, with works having to meet just two shutdowns of 17 and eight weeks respectively to support unimpeded power generation. Downer worked with Genesis, designers AECOM and subcontractor Parfitt Construction to develop engineering smarts to maintain live operations, including construction of a permanent stent in place of a temporary measure to sustain power generation.

In February 2021, after nearly two years of construction, the Tekapo A Intake Gate project was completed on time and under budget, ensuring continued powering of over 125,000 Kiwi homes.

Category 4: Projects with a value between $20 to $100 million – McConnell Dowell Constructors for Lyttleton Tunnel Deluge and Associated Systems Upgrade

McConnell Dowell Constructors was the winner of Category 4 for projects with a value between $20 to $100 million. The award was presented for the companies work on the Lyttleton Tunnel Deluge and Associated Systems Upgrade. The award judges commented that the project, which started in May 2017, had an outstanding safety culture.

McConnell Dowell took a highly collaborative approach to the upgrade and works delivery on the Lyttelton Tunnel Deluge. They developed a detailed design and construction method integrating 27 subcontractors across multiple disciplines.

The standout innovation for safety, a cantilevered trolley, avoided point balance load issues while increasing productivity and quality, enabling works to proceed while traffic flowed through the tunnel. Through a safety and quality focus, with commitment to openness, transparency and collaborative planning, the team delivered works safely, on time and to budget.

The team’s appreciation for the project’s location and the disruption to Canterbury’s Lyttelton and Banks Peninsula communities was embedded from day one, and ultimately enabled the team to conduct works with fewer total lane closures.

The project’s safety culture was outstanding, with workers and all site staff taking full care and responsibility for each other, and consistently speaking up and out when they saw unsafe working.

Category 5: Projects with a value of greater than $100 million – Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency for North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency received the Category 5 award for projects with a value of greater than $100 million on behalf of the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Alliance for the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery.

Following the 7.8 magnitude Kaikōura earthquake in 2016, an alliance of Waka Kotahi, KiwiRail, Fulton Hogan, Downer, Higgins, HEB Construction and subcontractors moved mountains to reconnect communities. Road and rail networks re-opened by the end of 2017 and an impressive 273 projects were completed as part of the recovery by December 2020, with an additional rockfall protection canopy completed in 2021.

Work followed to leave a lasting legacy by creating a safer, more resilient network that will serve future generations. Responding to the unique scale and complexity of construction challenges required new ways of thinking, and innovation was at the heart of the response.

Freight movements and public journeys are more reliable and resilient. A greater regional cultural narrative is honoured and showcased. Excellent safety statistics over the life of the project set a new industry benchmark.

Category 6: Excellence in the maintenance and management of assets – Downer NZ for the New Plymouth District Council Road Maintenance Contract

Downer NZ won Category 6 for Excellence in the maintenance and management of assets for its work on the New Plymouth District Council Road Maintenance Contract.

In 2019 Downer NZ and New Plymouth District Council entered into the first NEC4 Term Service Contract to maintain the road network and other assets managed by New Plymouth District Council. The contract is worth around $16 million annually and NPDC has seen savings of $700k in the first year of operation. These savings have been attributed to a close working relationship between the council and Downer.

The project is an excellent example of collaboration and effective local government procurement processes driving better business practices. This new way of thinking is resulting in social benefits, improved competencies, workforce development and community involvement together with sustainable environmental outcomes.

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