Some of New Zealand’s most mind-blowing infrastructure projects of the past year were honoured on Friday night at the Civil Contractors New Zealand Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards.
From an 86-metre-long suspension bridge on one of New Zealand’s most picturesque cycling and walking trails to tunnelling under Auckland as for a section of the high-profile City Rail Link, the award-winning projects all demonstrated the outstanding skill of Aotearoa’s civil construction industry.
The awards were presented in front of a crowd of hundreds at a black-tie awards dinner hosted at the conclusion of the Civil Contractors New Zealand National Conference at Te Pae Convention Centre in Christchurch.
Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Alan Pollard said the awards, presented across six categories, were “well deserved recognition” for the untiring efforts of contractors building the infrastructure that supports economic growth and vibrant communities.
Abseil Access, headquartered in Wellington, won the Category 1 Award for projects with a value of up to $2 million for its work on the ‘Hugo Bridge’ on Lake Dunstan Trail. The impressive 86-metre-long suspension bridge took just four months to create, from concept design to the completion of construction. That was despite its relatively remote location and the need for Abseil Access to build it to withstand climate extremes, including large snow loads and high winds.
The judges noted the timber and steel used in the bridge’s construction to ensure it would blend into the local environment, and commented that its $240,000 cost represented “real value for money”.
“The social outcomes of this work as part of the Dunstan trail have enabled a whole new cycling industry to establish in the area with further support to the existing hospitality and accommodation businesses.”
The award for projects with a value of between $5 million and $20 million was presented to HEB Construction for its work on the Interislander Rail Ferry Terminal Linkspan Project.
The project involved undertaking time-critical wharf upgrades ahead of the arrival of the UK Ferry ‘Valentine’, which was brought in for the 2021-2022 summer holidays after the main Cook Strait Ferry ‘Kaiarahi’ suffered a gear box failure. The Valentine’s wider and heavier stern required the port’s hydraulic linkspan vehicle and cargo bridge to be upgraded in order for it to berth.
The judging panel commented that the project was successfully delivered without compromising safety, quality, or the environment.
“This was truly a great outcome for the client KiwiRail, Port owner CentrePort and the constructor
HEB with the new linkspan operable as planned on 24 of December 2021 just in time for the busy
summer holiday period.”
The award for projects with a value between $20 million and $100 million was won by Brian Perry Civil for its upgrade of the town wharf in Bluff.
The project had to be highly cost effective, after initial proposals from multiple parties in 2018 exceeded the budget of client Southport NZ. As a result, Brian Perry Civil came up with a unique alternative design that would allow the project to go ahead. Project costs were further reduced through collaboration and a risk-management approach that meant risks were apportioned to the party best able to manage them.
The bluff wharf upgrade was lauded by the judges for its innovative contract approach, outside the box thinking, and the project team’s ability to complete the works in a way that minimised disruption to tanker operations at the port.
The award for projects with a value between $20 million and $200 million went to CB Civil for the Peacocke Northern Transfer Mains Project in Hamilton.
This was a significant project involving laying a 5.5 km dual wastewater pipeline in support of a wider programme of works being undertaken by Hamilton City Council to provide infrastructure for more than 8,000 new homes over the next 30 years.
The judges said they were were impressed by the collaborative and innovative approach taken by CB Civil, which brought costs down and allowed an additional $5 million of work to be included in the project budget.
They also noted the project’s success being completed without incident, its use of recycled and alternative materials to improve environmental outcomes, and year ahead of schedule.
The award for projects with a value over $100 million was won by the Downer NZ and Soletanche-Bachy Joint Venture for its work on City Rail Link Contract 1 Britomart, in Auckland.
This major project involved construction of two rail tunnels starting at Britomart Station and extending under the old Central Post Office and adjacent public space.
The judges commented on the significant challenges involved in completing the works, including temporarily supporting a 14,000-tonne heritage building during tunnelling and working in and around Auckland’s busiest commuter rail station.
Despite these challenges, the project was completed successfully and with zero harm to workers across the more than 2.5 million hours of work undertaken.
The CCNZ Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards also included an award for excellence in the maintenance and management of assets. South Island civil construction and maintenance company CORDE took home top spot in this category for its outstanding performance on the Waimakariri Road Maintenance Contract – a contract the company has held for the past 27 years.
The judges noted CORDE’s strong field knowledge and use of technology, which allows its client Waimakariri District Council to access real time data on road maintenance across the network. They also noted CORDE’s ability to allocate its maintenance efforts to where they were most needed, and its commitment to staff training, and its ongoing efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.
Mr Pollard congratulated all the winners and finalists in this year’s awards.
“It has been a challenging year but throughout it all our contractors have continued to do their jobs, and do them exceptionally well, as they continue to transform, connect and power our country.”
Hirepool is Civil Contractors New Zealand’s Principal Business Partner and the premier sponsor for the awards. Gary Richardson, General Manager at Hirepool, said the quality of award applications received this year was extremely high.
“These awards are always a highlight of the year as they provide an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the best in the industry, and celebrate the skill, tenacity and ingenuity of civil contractors up and down New Zealand,” he said.
“The commitment and expertise of this year’s winners is legendary.”
Thirty-six finalists were announced from among the entries received in this year’s awards. In addition to the winners, six of the finalists received high commended awards.
These included Universal Underground, for installing a new wastewater pipe diverting water away from the route of the City Rail Link project in Auckland; Geovert, for developing a unique stabilising solution for an embankment adjacent to a new major Waikato River crossing to the Peacocke development in Hamilton; and E Carson & Sons, for the Jervois Quay Emergency Stormwater Upgrade in Wellington.
Other high commended recipients were Rock Control, for its work building a rockfall canopy alongside State Highway 1 on The Kaikoura Coast; McConnell Dowell Constructors, for the Westland Milk Products ocean outfall on the West Coast of the South Island; and Southroads for its road maintenance work on the Southland Network Outcomes Contract.
Winners: CCNZ Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards 2022
Category 1: Projects with a value of up to $2m – Abseil Access for Specularite Gully Bridge Build (Hugo Bridge)
From developing the concept to handing over the completed bridge, Abseil Access took only four months to get this project done, planning the 86-metre-long suspension bridge over a rocky gully on the Lake Dunstan trail, in short order. After design came sourcing materials, choppering in the plant and materials after pre-site inspection, followed by the installation of 11-metre timber towers, and the drilling and anchoring of cables into the schist rock.
Remote and subjected to extreme weather, the site proved a challenge that was overcome through careful planning and delivery. The bridge, coming in at only $240,000, has helped to facilitate the growth of the cycling industry in the region, boosting the local economy.
Category 2: Projects with a value of between $2m and $5m – HEB Construction for Interislander Rail Ferry Terminal (RFT) 3 Linkspan Project
When the main Cook Strait Ferry, Kaiarahi, needed a replacement due to gear box failure, reinforcements for the summer season had to come from the UK, in the form of The Valentine. With a wider, heavier stern, urgent wharf upgrades were required to allow The Valentine to berth.
Deadlines in the Interislander Rail Ferry Terminal (RFT) 3 Linkspan Project were tight, but luckily close relationships and previous experience working together meant HEB Construction were able to plan, design and build the upgrade in time for the 24 December kick-off of busy season, without compromising on safety, quality, or environmental impact.
Category 3: Projects with a value of between $5m and $20m – Brian Perry Civil for Bluff Town Wharf Upgrade
After turning down all tender bids in 2018 for the Bluff wharf upgrade due to oversized budgets, South Port turned to Brian Perry Civil in 2019 for an alternative solution. After working through issues surrounding tanker operational issues for the wharf, the parties were able to work together collaboratively throughout the design and construction process, with risk management and risk apportioned according to project specialties.
The more cost-effective proposal-turned-project ended up providing a more robust solution than originally intended, and has even led to discussions with a third party about future use of the upgrade – use that wouldn't have been possible if the initial 2018 designs had been implemented.
Category 4: Projects with a value of between $20m and $100m – CB Civil, Peacocke Northern Transfer Mains Project
The Peacocke Northern Transfer Mains Project is part of a wider infrastructure expansion that will make possible the building of 8,000 homes over the next 30 years in Hamilton. The project involved laying two pressure mains, of 630 mm and 350 mm, for 5.5 km along Wairere Drive, with additional considerations including traffic management, protection relocation, and the replacement of existing overhead and underground services.
It was the strategic, collaborative proposal by CB Civil that won them the tender, with a budget that came in under estimates, and an additional $5 million of work included in the original budget as the project progressed. The project also involved 20,000 hours of work without incident, and was able to be completed a year early. So impressed was the client by the process that they sought external consultation on how they could modify their procurement process to achieve similar results.
Category 5: Projects with a value of greater than $100m – Joint Venture Downer NZ & Soletanche Bachy for City Rail Link Contract 1 Britomart
Working in and around one of Auckland’s busiest commuter stations is no easy feat, but it was one that the joint venture team of Downer-Soletanche Bachy pulled off despite complex stakeholder relationships with rail operators, heritage organisations, local iwi, and the general public. It was a project under much scrutiny, but Downer-Soletanche Bachy was able to work closely with the client, City Rail Link, to deliver a project meticulously planned and equally well-executed.
The project was not without challenges, including the underpinning and supporting of a 14,000-tonne heritage building, as well as the construction of 20-metre deep concrete walls with only seven metres of headroom. Despite these challenges, the project was able to be completed with zero workplace harm across 2.5 million hours of work.
Category 6: Maintenance & management of assets – CORDE for Contract 19/43 District Road & Drainage Maintenance (2020–2023)
With a relationship spanning 27 years, the trust both CORDE and the client, the Waimakariri District Council, have for each other is clear. Following an 80:20 rule approach to asset management, where 20 percent of the district’s roads carry most traffic, CORDE was able to allocate resources appropriately and effectively. This approach is supplemented by the Deming model of “Plan, Do, Check, Act”, where all activities are rigorously audited to ensure the work is being conducted to contract quality standards.
From using two per cent of its salary and wage spend on training to the use of real-time information reporting technology, not to mention the initial stages of a carbon footprint strategy forming, it is clear that CORDE has refused the status quo and is looking to continuous improvement to drive sustainable growth.
Highly Commended: CCNZ Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards
Category 1 Highly Commended: Universal Underground, for its work installing a new wastewater pipe diverting water away from the route of the City Rail Link project in Auckland.
Category 1 Highly Commended: Geovert, for developing a unique stabilising solution for an embankment adjacent to a new major Waikato River crossing to the Peacocke development in Hamilton.
Category 2 Highly Commended: E Carson & Sons, for its work on the Jervois Quay Emergency Stormwater Upgrade in Wellington.
Category 2 Highly Commended: Rock Control, for its work building a rockfall canopy alongside State Highway 1 on The Kaikoura Coast.
Category 3 Highly Commended: McConnell Dowell Constructors, for the Westland Milk Products ocean outfall on the West Coast of the South Island.
Category 6 Highly Commended: SouthRoads, for its road maintenance work on the Southland Network Outcomes Contract.
Further detail about highly commended recipients can be found in the 2022 CCNZ Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards booklet .