Last week we had the pleasure of attending the IPWEA NZ Northern Branch Meeting, hosted at Hamilton City Council in Hamilton. We were joined by over 50 of our Northern Branch Members and their colleagues for this half day of presentations and networking!

Thank you to everyone who attended, as well as our fantastic presenters and Northern Branch Chair Cushla Anich, for making the day possible. Thank you also to Beca and EnviroNZ for sponsoring the morning tea and lunch at the event, both of which were fantastic opportunities to network with others from across the region.


Read on for a summary of what was discussed and head to the Northern Branch Page to access the agenda and presentations.

Waikato Regional Council and Hamilton City Council presented their work telling the stories of organisations reducing construction waste in landfill. With waste from construction making up around half of all waste in landfill in New Zealand, Waikato organisations are playing their part in reducing what is sent from construction sites to landfill. The actions being taken can be broken down into measuring, designing, procurement, onsite waste reduction and deconstruction. By measuring current waste, thinking about waste reduction during the design process, and engaging with suppliers to limit the packaging brought to site, many organisations are able to reduce their waste at every step of construction. What’s more, with buildings being deconstructed and reused, materials are even being saved from landfill even at the demolition stage.

Jane Kennelly from Skills Consulting Group presented on Workplace Wellbeing – she believes that people are the profitability of a business. Skills Consulting Group take a holistic approach of wellbeing, and are responsible for the Workplace Wellbeing Index. From their research they’ve found that the ‘Millennial’ group of employees are most likely to quit. With COVID having ‘clipped their wings’, they value genuine care and feeling valued at work, as well as engaged in problem solving. Burnout is another major issue facing the industry. Work design is the answer to burnout, but it hasn’t yet advanced enough to answer the problems at hand. Jane also shared a project called ‘TextPulse’ which is a text platform created for the health of over 11,000 apprentices in Aotearoa. Using AI, this tool is learning how to intercept and help those who need help and support.

Dale Townsend, Data Scientist, City Transportation at Hamilton City Council, collects data to support decision making, enhance operations and better inform customers about transport around Hamilton. Analytics are now required as proof in most decision making processes. The data that Hamilton City Council collects is used to make decisions such as forward work programme planning and to enhance operations with real time management. New data sources include active modes so that HCC can now reliably see how people are travelling, such as on foot, on bike, scooter or of course car, as well as where from. There are 400,000 vehicle trips to and around Hamilton every day, with 13% going from the Waikato Region and 7% from the Auckland Region. Using ‘TDAP’, Transport Data Analytics Platform, they are able to combine 8 data sources spatially to alert HCC to potential issues on the network. The tool is making data more accessible to all and is used to create ‘report cards’ such as the example you can see here.

Andrea Phillips, Development Engineer, Hamilton City Council, also shared a fantastic spatial tool used to share stormwater data. The tool provides live information about Hamilton’s Stormwater network using GIS information. Information can be recorded by consultants via an App, which is then fed into the tool in real time. Within the tool priorities and layers can be selected to prevent information overload. The tool can be used by the council to help plan future works, and enables cost estimations to be made.

Emily Botje, Asset Management Lead at the National Transition Unit, Department of Internal Affairs, presented an update on the transition to Three Waters across Aotearoa New Zealand. In her role, she is responsible for writing the Asset Management Plan and Code of Practice for Three Waters, and will also oversee a growth framework and supply chain management. The first Asset Management Plan is due in March 2024. For the time being, the National Transition Unit is setting up working groups and financial frameworks for this work. They are also looking into best practice guidelines for all involved entities, as well as supply chain management to develop a sustainable workload programme. The next steps are to work out who owns which assets across the nation, and how these will be maintained.

Paul Strange, Roading Engineer at Waipa District Council, shared a case study looking at the stabilisation of Te Pahu Bridge. Access to Te Pahu Bridge was very limited for a number of years, and Waipa District Council started monitoring the bridge in 2013. In 2017, the team noticed cracks in the piles of the bridge during a period of low water. These cracks lead to hinging, but with only 50 years estimated life span of the bridge they needed to maximise the life of the asset without making the repairs extend beyond the rest of the structure. In the end, the team used rock anchors 25/30metres into the ground to secure the bridge and along with 20 metre deep piles. The work required major construction just to get access, as well as abseilers to attach sensors to monitor any movement of the bridge. 21 engineers were required to tackle the project.

We look forward to the next Northern Branch Meeting, taking place in Early November in Auckland! Register here.