Red Stag Sawmill a trailblazer in timber construction


The unique construction of the timber-based structure which houses the Red Stag Sawmill, the largest timber mill in the Southern Hemisphere, is a trailblazer in timber construction.

Hawkins Construction took out the Industry Category Award at the 2017 New Zealand Commercial Project Awards for their role in the project, which is owned by Red Stag Timber Ltd.

“It’s a very unique building,” Hawkins Central Regional Manager Peter McCawe says. 

“Essentially it’s a big shed — and they’re not normally constructed out of timber. I think timber low-rise and mid-rise buildings will become more popular in the future, so this can be seen as a trailblazer in this type of building.”

Most of the operating plant is located on the first floor, atop a grid of six metre-high concrete plinths. The laminated timber superstructure creates portals up to 42m wide, while the roof apex stands more than 18m tall.

The milling equipment is located on enormous concrete plinths within a large-span building envelope subjected to continuous vibration forces.

A series of laminated timber portals and bracing ties were cut and assembled on site to support the envelope.

Mr McCawe says the timber roof trusses were very unique. “We had to build the truss on the ground with services in place, and then lift it onto the columns,” he says.

“The biggest challenge was creating the lifting plans and the actual crane lifts. Multiple cranes were required to lift them into place, which was quite technical,” he says.

“We actually built a scale model of how it would fit together to help us see how it would work.”

Hawkins Construction Ltd partnered with engineers Richard Spiers and Associates Ltd on the project. Mr McCawe says up to 50 tradespeople, including up to 20 people from Hawkins, were active each day on the busy site.

The judges praised the clever logistics which helped deliver this impressive production facility, and acknowledged the several unique challenges facing the close-knit engineering, construction and management team.

“A lot of people don’t realise how big the Red Stag operation is. The mill processes a log every four seconds. It’s a pretty special building, and it was a fantastic project to be a part of,” Mr McCawe says.

Hawkins Construction is a regular entrant in the Commercial Project Awards, and Mr McCawe says the awards offer great recognition.

“It’s a good networking event. It offers the opportunity to connect with industry colleagues, along with getting positive recognition of our hard work and project success.”

The New Zealand Commercial Project Awards are owned by the Registered Master Builders Association, and sponsored by PlaceMakers, Altus, GIB, Allied Concrete, Construction Marketing Services and CARTERS.