Constructive, the New Zealand Construction Industry Forum, was held from September 21-23 in Christchurch, bringing together key representatives from the industry to discuss issues facing the sector and to identify opportunities to work more collaboratively to develop solutions.
Constructive reflected an industry-led effort to enhance collaboration to ensure the sector delivers the step change required to respond to New Zealand’s growing construction demands.
The forum recognised that solutions must come from industry working closely with Government.
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Opposition Spokesperson for Building and Construction Phil Twyford presented their views, alongside senior representatives from the construction, research, engineering, architecture and commercial property sectors.
Constructive provided the sector with a mandate to change the way industry and Government collaborate to meet New Zealand’s construction needs.
The meeting recognised the increased prominence of construction in New Zealand which stemmed from increased concern about housing affordability, undersupply, migration and skills shortages.
The value of the construction sector to the New Zealand economy is enormous, and is New Zealand’s fifth-largest sector by employment, accounting for 10% of total employment across the economy. The sector contributes 8% of New Zealand’s total GDP.
The forum focused on the following:
• How businesses were forced to adapt and evolve in response to the Global Financial Crisis, Canterbury earthquakes and now, more recently, the Auckland housing situation.
• How to promote collaboration across the sector, including at local and central Government level.
• The future dynamics that the industry should be preparing for now.
The forum recognised that the sector had proved resilient in working through the Global Financial Crisis and Canterbury earthquakes.
It was noted that key lessons from those events are that the industry needs to tackle four key issues — certainty for consumers and the sector, capacity in the sector to achieve results, and quality and timeliness of building.
Each of these must be addressed by the sector as a whole, including finance, land, design and building.
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English saw Government as a key part of the solution, stating their focus is to be a better customer. The onus is also on industry, across the whole construction supply chain, to also be a better and more efficient partner and supplier, he said.
Auckland Unitary Plan
Constructive welcomed the Auckland Unitary Plan, and noted this was only the starting point for what is arguably the largest building undertaking in New Zealand’s history.
Participants recognised that the future demand for housing, particularly in Auckland — where it is forecast that 400,000 dwellings will be required over the next 30 years to accommodate up to one million new residents — is unprecedented.
They called for new and contemporary approaches, including innovative business operating models and technologies to develop the buildings and communities that New Zealanders need, in the time that we need them.
New technologies such as advances in prefabrication are likely to feature more prominently in the New Zealand housing landscape.
The forum was the first step towards enhanced collaboration across the sector.
Registered Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly said the RMBA will continue to be a key part of the solution, in collaboration with other industry leaders from across the building, research, engineering, architecture and commercial property sectors.
Participants felt that, following on from Constructive, it was crucial that efforts are redoubled to lift the level of collaboration in the sector, including with current sector groups and councils. This includes engagement with Government and industry.
It was agreed to establish working groups to address key issues including:
• skills and capacity,
• new business models and procurement, and
• establishing industry-wide standards for health and safety.
The sector will report back to the next Constructive Forum in 2017.