Our hosts for this event Otago Polytechnic let us use their new facility, He Toki Kai Te Rika, the new trades training facility which only opened last September, with staff moving into the new building in February 2024. The name He Toki Kai Te Rika translated to “A tool for the hands” was gifted by the local runaka.

Presentations during the day covered a range of assets, from a new build hospital, recently opened learning facility, rail corridor asset maintenance as well as applications for hydraulic modelling as an asset management tool.


It is a light and spacious new building which students and staff must be proud to work and study in. It elevates the importance and value of the trades including asset management, and is an investment in the next generation of Ōtākau and Aotearoa’s tradespeople and engineers. The Polytec’s apprenticeship program where students work and learn in parallel is an excellent model in our current cost of living crisis. Sarah Hexamer talked us through this apprenticeship program, and Roger Oakley of Stantec outlined the benefits in employing a student from the industry perspective.

View the slides here – Otago Polytec AM Capacity via workpace learning

A huge thanks goes out to Sarah Hexamer and the Otago Polytechnic for supporting this event and hosting. After the presentations, we had a tour of the new facility as well as the Epic Centre – where up to 150 students at a time can be found using a huge array of tools and equipment. He Toki has a heavy equipment lab bay, soils testing and survey equipment as well as learning/collaborating spaces like the one we were in for our presentations. We were visiting during term break, but it must be a chaotic and exciting place to be when students are in full study mode!

     Soils testing lab

Epic Centre

Natalie Storm is the KiwiRail Asset Engineer for 150m of rail corridor near Dunedin. She gave us a great into 101 to rail assets: Foundations, sleepers, track and the maintenance and materials available. It was fascinating hearing about the different materials sleepers can be made of, and the tricks fo the trade to stretching out the life of a section of rail – alternating the new sleeper replacement or using the tamper to reshape the track.

Rail is clearly a passion for Natalie’s family as her dad and uncle worked in rail, and her dad joined us at the event. Despite starting her career elsewhere Natalie has ended up working in rail also and clearly has an aptitude for it. Leading the way with the next generation of rail asset management!

View the slides here – Kiwirail one aspect of asset management 

Andrew Holmes of Health NZ Southern talked us through the intricacies of the new hospital being built in Dunedin. This is a huge ongoing project to plan, and now construct a new state of the art hospital. You can now see the piles and structures high above the construction wall so Dunedinites are now seeing the progress after years of planning.

Andrew shared the details of planning and managing a major new build project which is certainly an exciting asset not only for locals but is significant for New Zealand too. Lessons learned from the Christchurch hospital were shared with the Dunedin team and taken into consideration during design.

Michael Goldingham and Paul Hayes from Waitaki District Council explained hydraulic modelling as an asset management tool. This was another great insight into a field which many in the room have not worked in – water.

They covered:

  • Introduction to Waitaki DC Water Services Team
  • What is hydraulic modelling? How do we do it?
  • How is the use of hydraulic models integrated across the Water Services Team?
  • Modelling as an asset management tool

View the slides here –

Hydraulic Modelling at WaitakiDC

This photo shows an issue which turned out not to be caused by a leak, but certainly prevented water from getting to where it was needed!

Pam Wilson of the Otago Regional Council introduced their Long Term Plan which is currently out for consultation and encouraged everyone in the room to provide feedback. The council have been transparent about what their plans are and the budget associated, so please get into the nitty-gritty and provide feedback both as a community member and an expert in asset management. You can view the Otago Regional Council LTP consultation here.

An industry update was provided by Āpōpō with an overview of the recent changes and big challenges going on right now. You can view these slides here: Industry update

Workshop – What would make the biggest improvement to asset management practices in Aotearoa?

With the attendees, we discussed one of the Āpōpō sentiment survey questions, then delved into the what and why behind them.

During the workshop we landed on the biggest game changer for improving asset management practices in NZ being executive/elected members’ recognition of asset management criticality. The second most important was filling vacant AM roles and professional development of team members. Ideas for improving executive/elected member recognition of AM were:

  • Working closely with LGNZ and the Institute of Directors
  • Use the Āpōpō network to advocate
  • Provide fact-based and national advice on AM
  • Compare NZ to other countries
  • Storytell from the bottom-up: Getting your teams to share the challenges and successes
  • Take the opportunity to educate using warm and fluffy emotive story-telling
  • Take elected members onsite to understand the infrastructure
    • Especially important every three years when new elected members start in their role
    • Make it a regular activity during planned workshop days

These great ideas have been shared with the Āpōpō team to inform future activities, and we encourage each of you to think about how you can advocate for asset management with your executives or elected members. The April 2024 Āpōpō Member Sentiment survey is now closed, but the results will be shared in early May.

A huge thanks goes out to the event sponsor, Morphum Environmental, for providing the morning tea and lunch:

Our next Otago/Southland Āpōpō branch event will be held in Invercargill in July/August so look out for that event in the coming months. We are also looking into holding a combined hui with the Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin in early December this year – so watch out for more info on this one later in 2024.