Kaikōura earthquake recovery work wins supreme award for engineering excellence


The recovery of the road and rail networks following the Kaikōura earthquake was last night awarded the highest New Zealand engineering excellence honours taking out the Supreme Award at the Engineering NZ ENVI Awards.

Following a joint win in the Engineering Impact category (with Auckland Council’s Te Auaunga), Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance’s work on the earthquake recovery was selected as the overall winner from the category winners.

The judges said it set the benchmark for the rest of applicants and had set the standard for how we mobilise as a country to respond.

“The earthquake isolated coastal and rural communities overnight and the disruption to freight, tourism and primary industries was felt nationwide,” says Steve Mutton, Chair of the NCTIR Board and a Director, Regional Relationships, for the Transport Agency.

“The Transport Agency, KiwiRail and our alliance partners had a shared vision of ‘moving mountains to reconnect communities’ and that’s exactly what we did, in just over a year (under extreme pressure at times). It was an extraordinary response to an extraordinary situation.

“We’re delighted that the incredible work of the thousands of men and women who worked to reopen the road and rail has been recognised with this award. We are now working to leave a safer and more resilient transport network for people to enjoy for generations to come.”

The Kaikōura earthquake recovery was also a finalist in the following categories:

  • Engineering Partnerships category for outstanding collaboration that results in a better project outcome or has a significant positive impact on a workforce, customers or community.
  • Innovation category for a modular rockfall protection which the judges called a great example of “scrappy” (ingenuity and resourcefulness/ number 8 wire) innovation that is impactful and highly relevant for New Zealand-centric challenges.

Other Transport Agency projects were finalists, along with our partners:

  • Engineering Innovation: Epoxy Porous Asphalt which extends the life of road surfaces of road surfaces from around eight years to around 40 years – Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, WSP and Fulton Hogan
  • Engineering Innovation: Mt Messenger Alliance’s the Bat Signal which fitted a drone with tracking hardware that could detect signals from the bats’ radio transmitters – led by Tonkin + Taylor
  • Engineering Creativity: Tirohanga Whānui Bridge – led by Aurecon