The upgrade programme is helping to stimulate the economy through its $8.7 billion investment in infrastructure.

Jobs are already being supported, with about 800 people developing projects and getting them ready for construction. In addition, the Papakura to Drury South construction will see about 750 people working on the project, with about 100 on site at any one time. 

The number of jobs will grow as more contracts are awarded to complete project designs, finalise construction plans and get workers on site to start construction. About 1400 direct jobs (full time equivalent) will be supported by the upgrade programme.

There will be benefits for the wider economy too, with a total of 5200 jobs supported in the wider supply chain and through the spending resulting from increased employment on the programme.

There’s a wide range of different jobs needed to deliver transport projects. On construction sites they include digger drivers, civil engineers and quantity surveyors. And to carry out the planning, design and consenting work the jobs range from ecologists to accountants, consent planners to risk specialists and engineers.

Key stories

Here’s some of the key stories driving the New Zealand Upgrade Programme.

New business secures major welding contract through Takitimu North Link project

From employee to employer and business owner, Neihana Bennett from Wera Works has successfully secured his first major welding contract on the Takitimu North Link project, part of the NZ Upgrade Programme, which has projects worth $3b under construction across the motu supporting local economies with opportunities for local people and businesses.

As a result of partnership working between Tāngata Whenua, Waka Kotahi, and Fulton Hogan/HEB Joint Venture, a mentoring pathways programme has been developed to support local people with the tools to take the next steps in the industry. We would like to acknowledge the Tāngata Whenua representation who continues to guide and support the development of these broader outcomes.

Find out more about how the Bay of Plenty's largest roading project is transforming the lives of locals

O Mahurangi Penlink – Project Partners

O Mahurangi is the first Auckland project to have iwi partners embedded in the project including on our Project Advisory Board (PAB).

This partnership enables us to have a Te Ao Māori lens across all aspects of the project. With Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a framework, Waka Kotahi and the Alliance will work with our iwi partners to build strong, meaningful and enduring relationships that achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Three iwi representatives from Ngāti Manuhiri, Te Kawerau a Maki and Ngaati Whanaunga sit on the PAB. They each play a full part in the governance of the project, including helping to establish Key Result Areas (KRAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and hold the Alliance accountable for their delivery. Iwi partners will also be represented in the management of the project, and across all its aspects.

Community impacts

Gioja Townshend's story

Kuku resident Gioja Townshend has lived next to SH1 for 17 years and welcomes safety improvements on SH1.

Gioja says while this investment in safety is positive news, the decision to continue building the new highway will make an even bigger difference. “Building the new highway is quite simply the most essential safety and road network improvement for our region. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a must have.”

Find out more about Gioja Townshend's story

Kindergarten children gift name to 280 tonne crane on Takitimu North Link project

After many rounds of brain storming, involving princesses and marvel characters, the children at Te Puna Kindergarten settled on a very special name for the 280 tonne crane at Minden Gully… Crusher Gordon. The name was selected by the children in memory of the late Gordon Burr, who had a very close relationship with the kindergarten.

Farmer Burr lived next door and opened up his property to the tamariki to learn about all things farming and growing. The Takitimu North Link project team welcomed the youngsters onto the site for a close-up look at Crusher Gordon, and an extra surprise.

Takitimu North Link team’s helping hand to neighbours

After Cyclone Gabrielle, our Takitimu North Link team were initially unable to get much construction work done due to the weather, so instead offered support to the community for any outdoor maintenance needed to help those in need.

Numerous weather events caused significant damage to people’s homes, communities, transport networks and other infrastructure. Some regions experienced multiple power outages and total loss of communications.

Waka Kotahi Infrastructure Delivery Regional Manager Jo Wilton mentions that an email was sent to help residents with cleaning up sections of their neighbourhoods, unblocking drains, and assist in whatever way needed.

Jo Wilton says Waka Kotahi received about 30 responses to their community call out. “Most of the requests have been to help out with clearing trees and large branches that have come down during the cyclone.” Others just needed some general yard work done.

Eighty-five-year-old Bethlehem resident Mary Watson jumped at the opportunity to get some free garden maintenance from our project team and was very thankful for the help.

Thomas Courtney, left, Bethlehem resident Mary Watson and Campbell Harrison happy with the garden clean

Sustainability Outcomes

iTwin – we win! Takitimu North Link wins international award

The Takitimu North Link transport project has been recognised as world-class for a digital approach to its design and construction that will reduce carbon emissions and improve construction efficiency.

The project in the western Bay of Plenty was awarded winner in the Roads and Highways category at Bentley Systems 2022 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure on 15 November 2022 in London. The annual awards programme celebrates the work of Bentley software users who are progressing infrastructure design, construction, and operations throughout the world.

As the lead design consultant on the project, Beca has implemented an integrated, model-based digital approach that continues to complement the work being delivered by the project constructor Fulton Hogan HEB Construction Joint Venture and design sub-consultant Holmes Group.

A key focus in designing and delivering the Takitimu North Link, part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme, has been around sustainability, reducing construction emissions and construction efficiency.

Hybrid Bulldozers at O Mahurangi – Penlink

One way the O Mahurangi – Penlink project team are reducing construction carbon is using hybrid bulldozers on site to carry out excavation and earthworks tasks. These machines have proven to be an innovative and sustainable addition to our construction fleet.

Currently, the project team has four CAT D7E hybrid bulldozers on site to tow scoops. The bulldozers and scoops work in tandem to move large amounts of soil and rocks, aiding in progressing earthworks.

CAT D7E bulldozers have a diesel engine that runs electric drive motors. Compared to an equal sized diesel dozer, hybrid bulldozers operate at a lower RPM and result in a 10% carbon reduction. This aligns with our commitment to reducing the project's construction carbon.

The hybrid bulldozers are working well with one bulldozer and scoop combination moving up to 800 cubic metres of material per day. To date, the total Cut 10 volume is 48,219 cubic metres and total dirt moved is 56,492 cubic metres. The hybrid bulldozers keep us on track to meet project deadlines while minimising construction carbon.

Read more about the hybrid bulldozers at O Mahurangi – Penlink(external link)

One of the CAT D7E hybrid bulldozers on our construction site

  • UNPUBLISHED Read Josiah's story

    A childhood chore has morphed into a career choice that is providing both challenge and fulfilment for Waikato water engineer, Josiah Simmonds.

    Josiah is part of the project team delivering one of the 19 significant New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects on behalf of the Government. The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is investing $6.8 billion to save lives, get our cities moving and boost productivity in the country’s growth areas. The project Josiah is involved is the new roundabout which replaces the dangerous T-intersection at Piarere, Waikato where State Highways 1 and 29 meet. 

    Josiah, who is responsible for the stormwater design for the project, attributes his interest in water from childhood experiences. He spent eight years in Tajikistan where his parents were humanitarian aid workers. 

    “One of the big issues was access to clean drinking water,” he recalls. “I was in charge of cleaning and filling the water filter for the family home. As the water slowly trickled through, I would fill up the plastic bottles. I also had to clean the filters weekly and get rid of all the grime and muck. We have photos of us bathing in coffee-coloured water after big storm events – it probably made us dirtier! Many friends ended up with water-borne illnesses.”

    Josiah’s waka is Tainui, Raukawa is his iwi; Ngāti Huri is his hapu and Pikitū is his marae and so it was natural that the family returned to the Waikato and Josiah attended Cambridge High School. In his second year of engineering studies at Canterbury University, a successful application for a Tainui Opus scholarship opened many doors especially as the scholarship included summer intern placements at Opus (now WSP). 

    “I worked in the Hamilton Office in the Environmental Engineering team. I really got to understand what water engineering was then. I saw I could fit in and this is what I could end up doing.”

    Josiah secured a graduate position in the Christchurch WSP office, concentrating on the three waters; water, wastewater and stormwater and after nearly three years, transferred to the Hamilton office.

    “I found stormwater the far most interesting due to its complexity. You really must zoom out to look at the bigger picture. You think you are fixing something, but you might be causing another issue upstream or downstream. To me, it is not just about protecting against flooding, it is about protecting the receiving bodies, the rivers and the streams.”

    In December 2020, Josiah was excited to get the opportunity to be involved with the NZ Upgrade Project at Piarere and not just because of the interesting stormwater management design aspects.

    “It has personal significance to me,” he said. “My maunga is Maungatautari – it is so close you can virtually see the intersection from the mountain. My awa is the Waikato River. I want to do everything I can do to make sure we are protecting it. In terms of my tribe, we say it is our mauri, our lifeforce.”

    “This area is rich with history in terms of the geo-morphology and Māori legend. The roundabout will be at the junction where the river changed course all those years ago. Māori legend says this was due to a powerful karakia to send the river towards Taupiri mountain. The Waikato River used to head to the Firth of Thames, and now it bends around he piko he piko, towards Taupiri. You still have the remnants of the old river through that area. It is right at the Waikato catchment boundary, but it is a ‘fuzzy boundary’ as the full hydrological cycle has water travelling in different directions at different times - it is unpredictable.”

    The project team is about to submit the various concepts and reports needed for the resource consent application.  Josiah’s stormwater design sits alongside reports including ecology, archaeology and landscaping.

    These reports have been developed with our iwi partners. Josiah’s presentations and report have been very positively received by both Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and Ngāti Hauā representatives. Josiah was even described as a “culturalpreneur” by Norm Hill, from Ngāti Hauā.

    “That made me laugh,” said Josiah.  “But I like the term. I would like to think this is the way I work, looking at the bigger picture. It is how I think it ought to work, especially with stormwater which can’t be done in isolation. I am working with all the other disciplines to come up with a great final result. It is a really big multi-disciplinary approach, as it should be.”

    “I am really excited about having an outcome endorsed and favoured by the many stakeholders. We are very happy with the overall concept of how we are going to manage stormwater, in terms of where we are going to be discharging to, the treatment and protection against erosion and all the fundamentals of stormwater.”

    Not only has the team come up with a culturally appropriate solution, it meets the expectations of Waka Kotahi, in terms of its maintainability and cost-effectiveness.

    “The hope is that the story and the history of the area is woven into the solution,” says Josiah. “When the project is finished and we walk away, it is not only an upgraded intersection, it is safer for our community and will give credence to some of the history of the region.”

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Improving safety

Building network resilience

Supporting economic growth

Enhancing walking and cycling