Constructing culture

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Hawkins Construction’s commitment to delivering outstanding quality left more than their clients deeply impressed last year.
Hawkins was awarded top Tourism and Leisure Project for the Te Puia Maori Arts and Crafts Centre in the RMB 2008 Commercial Project Awards, in association with PlaceMakers.

First occupied around 1325, Te Puia is an historic site overlooking the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley in Rotorua. Strategically positioned on a rise beneath the cliffs of the Pohaturoa mountains, the site is surrounded by a natural moat of hot pools.

Te Puia has been a major tourist attraction for more than 40 years, and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute of Rotorua decided a refurbishment and new build of their centre which was located at this site was required to upgrade the current facilities.

Hawkins Construction won the work through a traditional tender process and, while they had previous experience working for Te Puia, the construction of the Arts and Crafts Centre presented a whole new challenge.

“We started a relationship with the client back in 1996 when we worked on their People Mover track — a 2km long trail of pavement and bridges through the geothermal valley,” Hawkins project manager Kevin Mackie says.
“The Arts and Crafts Centre project was a whole new kettle of fish. From the outset we could tell it was going to be a very demanding project.”

Because the project was a popular tourist site, Hawkins had to stage each part of the construction around the business, which stayed fully operational, and ensure that their health and safety procedures were impeccable.

“From day one, a key car park was taken out of operation and used as part of the construction site. We were conscious that our client wanted us to work as efficiently as possible so that the car park could be used again to allow tourist buses convenient access to the centre,” Mr Mackie says.

With the inclusion of non-traditional, geometrically-complex structures, some parts of the build — including the main entrance — were particularly challenging.
Despite this, Hawkins developed an innovative approach which resulted in the saving of two months’ construction time and significant cost.
Delivering the whole project ahead of schedule and significantly under budget was the icing on the cake for the client and the project team.

“Our clients were very impressed, and often tell us of the positive responses that come in from visitors to the centre.”
Mr Mackie has worked with Hawkins Construction for 45 years. Over this time he has moved with the company to different parts of the North Island, working up the ranks to the title of project manager.

He cites the Te Puia Arts and Crafts Centre and the Kinleith No. 5 recovery boiler house as the most satisfying projects of his career.
“They were very different projects. The Te Puia project involved executing a demanding design to a very high standard of workmanship in order to do justice to the cultural significance of the site and centre.

“And the boiler house project included one of the largest pre-cast concrete pours at the time in the wider Waikato region. Both projects, while difficult, were very rewarding.”
Hawkins Construction central regional manager Ross Hargood agrees that the Te Puia Arts and Craft Centre is a stand-out project for the company.

“Te Puia has been a great flagship project for our company. It showcases our excellent building practices, innovative solutions to construction challenges, and our receptiveness to cultural requirements and design styles.

“Since completing this project we have had enquiries from potential clients who are really impressed with what we have done at Te Puia and want to know what we can do for them.”
With this sort of interest, Hawkins Construction is likely to continue winning work on interesting projects and upholding its reputation for client satisfaction.