Waka Kotahi forms alliance for Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti cyclone recovery plan

In News6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 14, 2023

Waka Kotahi has entered into a long-term alliance with KiwiRail and contracting firms Downer, Fulton Hogan and Higgins on a cyclone recovery plan for Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti following Cyclone Gabrielle.

As an interim alliance, the group will develop a framework that outlines the full scope of work required in the two regions, and how that could be managed, designed and delivered over the coming years.

The interim alliance’s work will cover the mobilisation, planning and engineering phase of the recovery. The group will create a plan for the next phase, which is the delivery of the required major civil construction work including rebuilding roads, bridges and rail corridors with the support of local contractors and supply chains.

In addition to planning for the coming rebuild, some enabling works in the rail corridor will also be undertaken.

Waka Kotahi Group general manager transport services, Brett Gliddon, said an alliance model was chosen for Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti following its successful use for the Kaikōura earthquake rebuild.

“This type of delivery structure is well suited to complex environments where social and economic outcomes for local communities and whānau are as important as the physical work itself,” he said.

In other areas, such as Northland and Coromandel, a combination of existing maintenance contractors and individual construction contracts will be used.

“The situation in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti is very different, and we need to tailor our solution to meet the needs of these regions. We are committed to a regionally led, centrally supported approach. Local knowledge and resources will play a key role in this recovery,” Gliddon said.

“Working together with Iwi, councils, locally-owned contractors and consultants and the community – those who know Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti best – will ensure we meet current and future needs.”

Gliddon said while this first step sees agreements with large companies with a nationwide presence, a significant amount of physical work will be undertaken by smaller, local contractors.

“The Kaikōura recovery, which saw almost half of the total work cost delivered by local supply chain partners, is a good example of our intent in this space,” he said.

The alliance is expected to be in place for several years, and the work in the coming months will ensure it is set up for success. In parallel work is underway to determine what the rebuild will include.

“The impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle have been devastating and we know how important the rebuild is to everyone who lives and works in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti,” Gliddon said.

“There are ongoing discussions around resilience and the need to build this into our solutions. We see this as an opportunity to provide outcomes that are wider than just the transport network.”

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy, who was involved in the rail rebuild following the Kaikōura earthquake, said a joined-up approach is necessary for the Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti infrastructure response and would benefit the local community.

“Like Kaikōura, rebuilding infrastructure across Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti is going to be on a huge scale. KiwiRail has mobilised more than 1,000 staff in Auckland, for example, but it’s only been sustainable for a week or two. The alliance, like the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR), will be able to mobilise large numbers of people on the ground for as long as they’re required to get the job done,” he said.

“Working together also ensures much greater coordination, more efficient planning, and access to national supply chains – which will be needed to source the quantities of aggregates, pre-cast concrete products and other materials needed to reinstate the regions’ rail and roads.

“We want to have a focus on using local contractors and other businesses too, just as NCTIR did.

“As with the Kaikōura rebuild, this joined-up approach will create work for local businesses,” Reidy said.

“Bringing together a range of firms to partner with the road and rail asset owners and other organisations, will also help us to operate with a high health and safety standard across Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti.”

The full alliance team is expected to be in place by mid-2023. Until then, ongoing recovery works to improve access levels are being undertaken by the existing maintenance contractors across affected regions.