On Thursday 23rd of November around 45 managers joined our branch event at the PDP offices in Newmarket.

The event opened with Troy Brockbank from PDP doing a Karakia and welcoming everyone to the site. The first presentation was from emerging leader, James Leah of PDP, talked us through technical innovations he sees being a game changer in the industry. Digital twins will make predicting faults and failures easier and assist in the planning process for infrastructure projects.

James is an infrastructure advisory consultant with PDP based in Newmarket.  James has a degree and post graduate diploma in Environmental Science from the University of Auckland, but more importantly, James has recently completed his Āpōpō AM 101 digital badge.

At PDP James is constantly challenging the thoughts and assumptions on how technology is used in the delivery of work and has proved himself to be an out of the box thinker and innovator on projects.  In 2022 James was part of a team that took out the Fieldays® Award for Young Innovator of the Year.

View James slides here.

The next presenter Mark Bourne, the Chief Operating Officer of Watercare took us through the Orakei mains sewer failure. Mark is responsible for the operation of the Water and Wastewater network delivering services to over 1.7 million Aucklanders in an area from Wellsford to the Waikato.

Mark has held numerous management roles at Watercare and it’s different incarnations as far back as when it was formed out of the Auckland Regional Council over 30 years ago.

Most of us had seen photos in the media as they closely followed the recovery of this serious failure and the subsequent sewage overflow. At one stage there were 8km of backed up sewerage due to this blockage.
Mark opened with a dramatic photo of the building of the original sewer back in 1913 demonstrating the age of this structure.
The sinkhole started with some consented work on the surface, just 900mm depth, with the sewerage system over 7m below. As the sinkhole grew so did the emergency response team. Mark was the face of the response which worked with the relevant stakeholders.

The permanent solution for the repair of the sinkhole is yet to be put in place but is likely to be completed soon after Christmas . Mark’s visually loaded presentation showed us all how quickly a situation can escalate and hopefully by sharing the lessons learnt, any future failures the team can apply these lessons and improve on  the recovery any repairs. Thanks to Mark for sharing this with our group it certainly was an eye-opener as to how the event had a major the impact on the community, the marine life and those involved with the emergency response.

View Mark’s Orakei slides here

The final presentation of the evening was by Russell Bond, Executive Director of Infrastructure Services at the Napier City Council. At the time of Cyclone Gabrielle he was acting in this role but is now permanent so clearly he did well during this emergency situation. The photos he shared of the impact of this natural disaster were dramatic the layers of water and then after the flooding, cleared layers of silt and the impact that they had on all of the core infrastructure in the area including the three waters, transport and solid waste management.

In his role as Executive Director Infrastructure with Napier City Council Russell is responsible for the management of all the city’s primary infrastructure and related services – sewerage, stormwater, water supply, roading, buildings, rubbish collection, waste minimisation, sportsgrounds and facilities, parks and reserves, gardens, public toilets, playgrounds and cemeteries.

Prior to joining Napier City Council in Russell has held roles with Hamilton City Council, Hauraki District Council, Central Otago District Council, Clutha District Council and Veolia.

Russell also works with the Department of Internal Affairs where he is the Entity Operations Lead for the proposed Hawkes Bay water entity.

View Russell’s Napier City Council slides

It is quite incredible to think of the phases of response and recovery which Hawkes Bay has already been through, let alone the next phases of adding additional resilience to their infrastructure.

This event was the first with new Āpōpō Northern Branch Chair, Parvati Patel, who MCed the event and will be working on locking in more interesting presentations and fabulous hosts for the northern branch meetings in 2024.

After the formal presentations attendees enjoyed canapes and drinks while they chatted and networked with fellow infrastructure asset professionals.

Thanks so much to PDP for not only hosting, but catering, presenting, and organising this branch event. It is a lovely light bright café space with a giant mural on the wall which was perfect for this networking event.