Āpōpō President Gary Porteous kicked off the first Āpōpō Congress with the following opening remarks:

“Tēnā koutou katoa

Welcome to the 2024 Āpōpō Congress.  As Pio so kindly introduced me, I’m Gary Porteous, and I welcome you all to Wellington.

As President of Āpōpō, I am very excited to be opening the very first Congress of Āpōpō – Te anga whakamua tahi – Moving Forward Together.

Āpōpō is coming up to 76 years with our history spanning the decades under names such as the New Zealand Institute of County Engineers, INGENIUM and until last year IPWEA New Zealand.

Āpōpō means the night after tomorrow and our full name – Āpōpō – Infrastructure Asset Management Professionals is an exact representation of who we are.  We are the lead association for asset management professionals here in New Zealand – and we are here to develop, enhance and represent you and our profession for the benefit of our members, and our communities – not only for today, but for the future – tomorrow.

To do this successfully, over the last year we have been very focused on a number of things. Your Board of 13 elected members have overseen our organisation deliver a full programme of real game changing initiatives:

  • First the Āpōpō Guide – the next generation comprehensive authoritative guide for asset management practice in New Zealand – a guide that weaves together the principles of te ao Māori with international standards of best practice reflecting ISO55000.  This guide is now the foundation resource for the Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Engineering Technology – Infrastructure Asset Management Apprenticeship degree as well as the University of Auckland Masters of Infrastructure Asset Management – and we make it available to these students at no cost through their free membership of Āpōpō.
  • We have also expanded online learning portfolio of Digital Badges to 26 micro-credential courses that support all aspects of asset management, from technical competencies through to softer skills such as collaboration and story-telling.
  • We have invested in global relationships that ensure we are connected to our peer organisations around the world, including a new MoU with the 30,000 member American Public Works Association, new membership of the 14 member Global Forum for Maintenance and Asset Management and continuing our representation on the 17 nations of the  International Federation of Municipal Engineering.
  • And finally, we have overseen an increase in membership to a level never achieved before in our 76 years – we now have over 1,000 members of Āpōpō throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.

Through all these initiatives Āpōpō is enhancing the capability for better asset management practice in New Zealand.  But it’s not all plain sailing.  To state the very obvious, infrastructure in New Zealand has enormous challenges to be faced.

How to fund, how to resource, how to explain, how to optimise, how to meet the quality of life aspirations of our neighbourhoods, communities, towns, cities, rural powerhouses and the nation as a whole.  These are the questions we are facing daily – and we are helping to design, discover, plan and implement the answers.

One area of focus is embodied in our Congress theme Te Anga Whakamua tahi – moving forward together.  This theme is a genuine commitment to finding the very best solutions to these hard and fundamental questions, by leveraging a globally unique situation to the advantage of us all – together and inclusive.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi gifts us a mandate for weaving together the very best of Māori culture and asset management best practices as sourced from around the world.  The result provides deeper insight, stronger connections, and more valuable solutions that are all otherwise unattainable.  We have an advantage that other countries admire with wonder.  We will continue to develop our leverage of this advantage.

We have also been engaging with our members to find out what is going on with infrastructure asset management in New Zealand.

In our latest member sentiment survey you have told us that:

  • Asset managers in waters are less optimistic, while those working in Roading more positive about the future of our nations’ infrastructure assets.
  • Improved executive/elected member recognition of asset management criticality is the way to improve asset management in New Zealand.
  • Those who believe we have sufficient capability to manage infrastructure assets has declined from just 27% in November 2023 to 24% of respondents in April 2024.
  • 63% of respondents felt that NZ’s infrastructure will not improve in the next 12 months.
  • 35% of respondents rated waters asset management as 2 stars or less – compared to roading where 95% gave 3 stars or more.

Overall, these results are disappointing.  We have to do better.  But how? You have said in our survey that to improve asset management we need:

  • Improved asset data quality;
  • Executive/elected member recognition of asset management criticality; and
  • Increased reliability of planning direction across election cycles.

Āpōpō is here to advocate for our members and their interests.  Over the next year we will be looking to find more ways to educate our stakeholders on the importance of investing in asset management capability – that is both competency and capacity.  We will continue to provide for free our Digital Badge GOV101 targeted at Councillors and officials to provide the basics of asset management knowledge – so you can have more meaningful and successful conversations about getting this right.

One thing that always impresses me about our profession is the cooperation. You, our people, have a sense of the long game, an understanding of the obligation that comes with managing assets that have functional lifespans well in excess of our own.

We do what we do for the future, as much as the present.  And that makes our profession rewarding, enjoyable, fulfilling and valuable.

Later at this Congress Āpōpō will launch our Professional Practice Accreditation Programme.

The programme will formally establish us with the hallmarks of a recognisable profession.  A commitment to competent practice, unquestionable conduct and continuing professional development.  This programme is fully supported by the Āpōpō guidance and learning resources we have been focused on developing.

I am excited to assure you that Āpōpō has arrived!  Please enjoy the 2024 Congress. I will look forward to meeting many of you over the next few days.

Ngā mihi nui – thank you.

1 thoughts on “Āpōpō Congress 2024 opening remarks from Gary Porteous

  1. David Withers says:

    What a great congress this was, really enjoyed it and proud to have played a small part. The event was really well organised and was a great mix of presentations. Pio was such a great host really kept the process flowing! It was so useful getting to meet such a range of professionals involved in asset management across New Zealand and around the world.

    The new chartered member status is very exciting looking forward to getting involved and introducing my staff to this new opportunity.

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