At our sold out Dunedin Airport event we had a full agenda with eight presentations, along with some break time for attendees to connect.
The bumper agenda started with Nick Keenan of Stantec explaining Stantec’s involvement in the Hawkes Bay’s recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle. The cyclone was described as an ‘Atmospheric river’ which certainly paints a dramatic picture of the situation on the ground. Stantec were already engaged in work in the area so stood up a GIS map for registering faults. Of the around 400 bridges in the district around 300 sustained damage. The GIS map of faults enabled the central team to assess and prioiritise repairs. Drones were heavily used in this assessment process – and what an ideal tool for getting the detailed view of hazards without putting staff at risk.
One of the challenges for the response team was the availability of rock, and only limestone was available locally in any quantity.
The scale of the challenge of the scale of repair work needed as well as the challenge this presented to the local community was clear in the photos Nick showed us.
Nick Rodger of the Dunedin Airport walked us through their assets and maturity. What a complex asset they have with all the amenities needed for a city!
The airport also owns surrounding farm land, so not only is Nick responsible for the management of a 1 million passenger a year (5th largest airport in NZ by passenger volume) airport, but also a working farm. The airport is actually like a mini-city with all the required assets; police station, petrol station, village, terminal, roads, water treatment. The airport is 100% user funding with no money coming from rates even though the airport is owned by the council.
This asset is also located just 1km from the lowest land in NZ, so flooding on this river plain is a very real challenge in relation to climate adaptation.
In the four months that Nick has worked at the Dunedin Airport he has done an asset management maturity assessment which is currently at ‘Aware’. To raise the maturity level he had the board do digital badge GOV 101 to help them understand the larger perspective on asset management and commit to the 30 year master planning timeframe. Āpōpō digital badges are written into staff’s professional development plan to get the team on the same page. This long term plan includes building a fully digital tool or BIM of the airport. Much of the surveying and reporting can be done on mobile phones, and staff with downtime such as firefighters are upskilling to be able to learn about asset management.
Climate adaptation is a major concern for the airport. Flooding needs to be planned for, and alternative ground transport options to get to this remote location. In 2026 Air NZ is planning to test e-planes so additional electricity demand needs to be found before then. The industry is working hard to de-carbonise air travel.
Did you know that it is actually more economical to fly between Dunedin and Christchurch than to drive, even with 4 people!
We had an update from the New Zealand Civil Contractors, Paul Bisset, who outlined the benefit to asset managers in working with civil contractors. The behaviour of members is important, so this is something they support their 700 members with. The resilience of quarry rock (as also mentioned by Nick Kennan in relation to the Hawkes Bay recovery) is a challenge that the industry needs to work on to find a solution. Sustainability is a new focus for CCNZ, including personal health. As an industry they want their workers to thrive not just survive.
CCNZ have established a certification scheme with civil tradies and NCEA. Findings of a recent industry survey will be shared later in September.
Sarah Robinson of Stantec talked us through a tried and tested systematic approach to asset management systems. She talked us through the approach, all the way to delivery and the MicroSoft systems which can be used to make a functioning holistic approach to managing assets. This works internationally and her experience is with rolling this out not only in NZ but also overseas. It moves teams from a stressed reactive space to an ordered register of assets and one source of truth.
Our Āpōpō Product Manager, Mike Curry talked us through the Āpōpō Guide. He outlined the process of deveopment, and what it will offer. There is more information about the Āpōpō Guide here.
The next presentation was Totally Georgous! The upgrade to the Dunedin main street to be one lane with increased pedestrian areas and green space. Glen Hazelton of the Dunedin City Council talked us through this project. Prior to the project people said that no one would want to sit outside, but already local businesses have added outdoor seating which has been hugely popular and the built in furniture fills up during sunny lunchtimes. It is better utilised already and many of those who were against the project are singing its praises.
It was a controversial project with no right answer or solution and several options provided to the councillors.
Mana whenua values were applied to assets and design. This area of town has always been a trading and connecting space for people, so it was only natural that local literature and Mana Whenua designs were worked into design.
The challenges of the project have been keeping traffic moving with the street closures, and the underground assets not being accurately mapped. Glen showed us a photo of a trench that had dozens of different pipes, cords, and structures crossing it. The project was politicised which did not help its progress. Politicising any infrastructure asset is detrimental as these assets are there for the good of the community they serve long term (30-100 years), and the best solution should be committed to and not adjusted based on any other lifecycles or priorities – 12 month budgets or 3 year election terms.
Another challenge has been the budget which was set in 2017. Since then prices have escalated significantly, but at this stage the project is coming in slightly under budget – an impressive achievement in the current market!
Sarah Hexamer of Te Pukenga, Otago Polytechnic, talked us through the apprenticeship program they have established since 2020. It is the first of its type in NZ. Of the 71 people currently studying through the program, they come from diverse backgrounds which adds depth to the industry. Several attendees are currently studying through Te Pukenga and sung the praises of the program. Typically it takes around 10 years to quality, but these are years that you can be working and earning, so it doesn’t have the same financial strain as other training formats.
Our last presentation of the day was from Hugo Zaat of Te Whatu Ora Southern. They are currently building the Dunedin Hospital, which will be the first digital hospital in New Zealand! It will have a BIM or digital twin.
Te Whatu Ora is the largest employer in New Zealand now, with its 80,000 emplyees. Since this change two years ago Hugo’s team has established a strategic plan for the team, with its own mission, vision and values remain the same as the entire organisation. They worked through the IIMM continuous improvement cycle, and also reviewed where they were against a generational model. Āpōpō digital badges have been used in training the team and getting everyone to speak the same language with the same terms of reference. They have been in a space where they were spending 70% of their time being reactional, 30% preventative, and are moving further into preventative activity.
Thanks to the Dunedin Airport and Stantec who sponsored this event – Dunedin Airport with the stunning venue with views of the surrounding farmland, and Stantec in sponsoring the delicious catering.
We’re excited for the next branch meeting in Te Aroha on Wednesday 30 August. See what we’ve got planned for the day.