GEM Awards 2016

The NZTA’s GEM Awards are a way for the agency to celebrate its contractors’ and consultants’ successes. They also exhibit outstanding examples of the agency’s diverse range of activities on our state highways. These annual Going the Extra Mile awards also acknowledge the NZTA’s suppliers’ commitment to its priorities and quality industry standards.

Customer Care

Memorial Park Alliance: Free dedicated bus service for tunnel walkers and cyclists – Mt Victoria Tunnel upgrade stage 2.

Russell Obee and Ed Breese from Memorial Park Alliance.
Russell Obee and Ed Breese from Memorial Park Alliance.

This entry certainly exhibited going the extra mile for customers. It showed empathy, and was a great example of thinking with the head and heart – it was about doing the simple things, and doing them well.

It was also about what was best for the customer and the long-term relationship with the customer through continuous improvement in the quality of the service. Most people have memories of grumpy bus drivers! This entry was a great example of how it doesn’t take a lot of money to do something great.



Customer Champion

Higgins Contractors: How one man can make a difference.

This entry showed you don’t have to have a lot of technology and innovation to be a customer champion – it’s about doing things simply and well. It showed great community engagement and brought a warm human element to the work Higgins does for customers. Over 3400 likes, 905 shares and over 300 comments on a Facebook post specifically thanking Cameron Strongman for his great attitude towards customers can’t be wrong!

Connecting with the Community

Well-Connected Alliance: The Waterview Connection – Collaborative design success: delivering on the spirit of consultation, and comprehensive engagement with stakeholders to achieve great community outcomes.

This entry was of a very high standard – it stood out to the judges as the best possible example of NZTA’s aspirations for future community engagement through the Alliance’s co-design approach with the community.

The team put the needs of the community at the heart of the design process right from the beginning, and recognised and worked with the community on what was important. Valuable expertise within the community was recognised and ways found to enhance this expertise for the benefit of all. The entry exhibited multiple examples of community engagement with genuine follow up.


Fulton Hogan: Litter Master 9000 (Version 2).

This entry proved it’s not necessarily the outcome, but the process when it comes to continuous improvement. The initiative was driven by a clear problem – excessive road-side litter, lots of staff hours and the health and safety risk of manually collecting litter on the roadside (slips, trips and falls), supported by the Fulton Hogan ‘blue skies’ approach to innovation.

The entry demonstrated quick prototyping with the ability to test and improve – hence version 2 in the title. Fulton Hogan also worked with community to reduce the need for the service in the first place, and liaised with schools and did advertising campaigns. This winner showed an initiative doesn’t have to be big to be innovative!

Keeping Customers Moving

McConnell Dowell / Downer joint venture: Alternative traffic management scheme for Memorial Avenue roundabout, Russley Road upgrade, Christchurch.

This entry showed good evidence of strong stakeholder strategy and planning – particularly at the customer level. The solution was better than the prior traffic layout.

Due to the nature of the intersection and stakeholders using it, they had to work with many varied organisations, from churches through to a helicopter company. One of the big challenges was the proximity to the airport, large traffic volumes, and high volumes of potentially stressed people trying to reach the airport.

Protecting the Environment

Northland NOC – Fulton Hogan, Opus, Te Roroa Environs: Northland NOC – Environmental protection redefined in the Waipoua Forest Sanctuary.

This entry was an excellent example of a proactive and collaborative approach to roadside vegetation management in the ecologically sensitive habitat of Waipoua Forest in Northland, in particular focusing on preventing the spread of kauri dieback disease.

The contractor has systematically embedded best practice environmental management to be an integral part of roadside maintenance activities, with a top-down (management plan) and bottom-up approach (standard operating procedures and induction training). A local initiative supported a national approach to management of kauri dieback disease through GIS mapping and laboratory analysis of diseased trees.

Safety in Design

Opus International Consultants & Jacobs–Opus Design joint venture: Realising the opportunity.

Ben Weir of Opus International Consultants and Andrew Bell of Jacobs.
Ben Weir of Opus International Consultants and Andrew Bell of Jacobs

This entry met all three criteria of this category really well. They had great systems and adopted these throughout the project lifecycle, and gained commitment from the project community including future maintenance managers and client representatives. Safety in Design principles were exhibited over the lifecycle of the project, and conversations were driven in a consistent way with some good innovations as a result. Opus showed great management and systems for Safety in Design, with the Safety in Design policy being a great example of this. The Construction Hazard Assessment Implication Review (or CHAIR) tool drove good discussion and action on Safety in Design issues throughout the project. The joint venture showed great value add through designing out risk through the whole lifecycle of the assets, and sharing lessons learned to a broad audience across industry.

Teaming up

Well-Connected Alliance: Waterview’s lesson in the 3 Rs: responsive, resourceful, ready.

This entry was a great example of teaming up with organisations that traditionally would not be involved with roading projects. This was through a range of initiatives such as site visits and a problem-solving challenge based on the construction of the Waterview tunnels.

The outcome was igniting a fire in young people towards engineer-related careers, and building sustainability within the sector by encouraging engineering as a profession.

Zero Harm

HEB/Opus joint venture: Marlborough Roads Network Outcomes Contract (NOC 01).

This entry really stood out for the judges as it was exactly what they were looking for – a great example of engagement with people to get them involved and manage their own risk. In the words of the judges, “the joint venture absolutely cracked the culture code, directly involving their workers in the decision-making process and allowing them to own the way they want to work”.

What started as a conversation about personal protective equipment transformed into a journey where involving people in understanding and managing their own risks has directly improved safety, employee engagement and efficiencies.

The people who deliver the work have been provided with the knowledge, tools and empowerment to keep themselves and each other safe, are part of the decision making processes that affect their safety and, because of that, understand why and what they are doing. All this has been led by the operational people from the joint venture, with no full time zero harm resource.

Supreme winner

Well-Connected Alliance: The Waterview Connection – Collaborative design success: delivering on the spirit of consultation, and comprehensive engagement with stakeholders to achieve great community outcomes.

Outstanding Service Award

Tina Nobbs receiving the award on behalf of her sister Pauline.
Tina Nobbs receiving the award on behalf of her sister Pauline.

The Outstanding Service Award was awarded posthumously to Pauline Nobbs of Fulton Hogan who was the traffic manager on the Newmarket Viaduct Replacement and Causeway Upgrade projects for seven years. Pauline passed away from cancer in September this year.



Recognition for going the extra mile

McConnell Dowell received recognition from the NZ Transport Agency in its GEM Awards on two of the high profile projects it is delivering for it – the Russley Road Upgrade in Christchurch and the Waterview Connection in Auckland.

The Russley Road Upgrade, a joint venture with Downer, received the Keeping Customers Moving award, for its innovative approach to temporary traffic management at the Memorial Road roundabout.

By constructing the slip roads first and linking them into one big roundabout that encircles the construction area, and supported by a comprehensive stakeholder communications strategy, the team was able to avoid 12 proposed traffic management changes throughout the construction programme. It has minimised disruption to the public, created a safer working envelope for construction and enabled the project to proceed ahead of schedule.

“Every day we’re looking for ways to live up to McConnell Dowell’s aim of ‘Creative Construction’,” says roading director Aidan Brannan. “The project team has done a sterling job of rising to the challenge of delivering a unique road feature not seen previously in New Zealand, and from which our customers benefit every day.”

The Well-Connected Alliance, the team delivering the Waterview Connection Project in Auckland, also won three awards, including the Supreme Award.

The Teaming Up Award recognises ‘working with others collaboratively to achieve outstanding results’. Waterview’s team worked with the Transport Agency and educational organisations to host visits to site by more than 200 college students last year as part of a government initiative to encourage students to consider engineering-related jobs. These visits required significant planning and support from people right across the project, and the judges say Waterview has worked with others collaboratively to achieve “outstanding results”.

For the second year running, the Waterview team also won the Connecting with Our Community Award, reflecting the project team’s commitment to engaging with the community beyond normal expectations. With the project area spanning five suburbs, the team has “walked with the community” in small and large ways including formation of a community design group, management of cultural impacts in partnership with key mana whenua partners, and co-designing a playground with the local school, a process which won the team the Best Practice Award from the NZ Planning Institute.

Topping off the hat-trick, the Supreme Award was open to all the successful GEM finalists and celebrated outstanding performance in Going the Extra Mile.

“This is an outstanding outcome for all of us. Our GEM success justly recognises the passion and commitment all our people and teams demonstrate on this great project of ours,” says Alliance project manager Iain Simmons.

“The NZ Transport Agency is one of our most valued clients, so we’re delighted with their recognition of our efforts to deliver their projects to the highest standard possible,” says managing director Roger McRae. “We look forward to delivering transport solutions with the Agency for many years to come.”

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