SH25A Taparahi Slip Remediation” is a finalist in the Innovation Award category at the 2024 Āpōpō Awards.

McConnell Dowell and Fulton Hogan Joint Venture (JV), on behalf of NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi, with Beca Limited and Tonkin+Taylor

McConnell Dowell and Fulton Hogan’s JV put the traditional rule book aside to conceive and deliver an innovative response to a major road rupture for NZTA. With designer support from Beca and Tonkin+Taylor, completing it in seven months and under budget. Lateral thinking and a one-team approach achieved the holy grail of reduced timeframe and lower operational risks and cost.

Out of adversity comes innovation. After ex Tropical Cyclone Hale, compounded by Cyclone Gabrielle, in early 2023 created a 120m long, 20m deep underslip on SH25A in the Coromandel, NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA) challenged the McConnell Dowell and Fulton Hogan Joint Venture (JV), with design support from Beca and Tonkin+Taylor, to develop an innovative response to this major road rupture. The Taparahi Slip remediation addressed the pressing need to reconnect this route so vital to the region’s communities, economy and visitors. The 124m by 15m high three-span steel/composite bridge was completed in just seven months and under budget. NZTA gave the JV the freedom to accelerate the remediation by adopting a transformational process which, with the benefit of emergency provisions, reduced both timeframes and operational risk and cost. In doing so, the project may provide valuable lessons as to how to address similar challenges in future.


NZTA gave the McConnell Dowell / Fulton Hogan JV the freedom to conceive and deliver an accelerated means of addressing the Taparahi slip on SH25A. This reflected SH25A’s significance as the main route across Coromandel for locals and tourists alike. The approach shows it’s possible to achieve the holy grail of reduced timeframes and reduced operational and financial risk – and hence cost – on a major project.

Key to achieving this was:

  • Assembling a seasoned project team with redundancy for all personnel and plant
  • Capitalising on the team’s extensive experience to co-opt an existing bridge design, adapting it for the site and accessing existing components
  • Accelerating procurement and construction ahead of design completion
  • Extensive offsite prefabrication of steel (Eastbridge Ltd) and precast concrete bridge components (Fulton Hogan precast)
  • Making full benefit of existing supply chain relationships, essentially ‘calling in favours’.

At the heart of the process was a one-team and an ambitious goal. NZTA and the JV were committed to a process that was innovative and pragmatic, rapid and accurate.

They also knew the goal was only achievable if team members appreciated all aspects of the supply chain, to see opportunities for collaboratively-driven innovation along the chain. As a result, and by way of example, design decisions like new pier-top casing to reduce lateral seismic demand on the substructure were able to be locked in early, allowing permanent pile casings to be ordered following a seismic design sprint. Having the right people, skills and mindsets across the board gave NZTA the confidence to use a cost reimbursement model, and accept extensive off-site construction, Meccano-like installation and, design and construction in parallel. Regular engagement with the community and, iwi Ngāti Maru, assured the JV’s license to operate, notwithstanding the extreme time pressures.


The Innovation Award is proudly sponsored by IDS