Back In Time

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20 years ago — July 1999

A builder stripped to his underpants in order to attend one of the first of a nationwide series of seminars explaining the revised NZS3604.

It wasn’t a standard condition of entry! Rather, he had gone to the venue straight from a very muddy worksite and, apparently, without being asked, accepted that he was too filthy to get in. Somehow his resourcefulness enabled him to acquire some clean clothing and enter the venue.

Initial indications had been that around 3000 people would be attending the seminars, but that number increased by 1000 and, at some venues, people who hadn’t registered had to be turned away.

15 years ago — July 2004

State Services Minister Trevor Mallard announced the establishment of a new government department — the Department of Building and Housing.

The change was prompted by a recommendation by the Building Reference Group — which included the RMBF — for the creation of a department with responsibility for building and construction.

The reconfigured department was to take over the work carried out by the Ministry of Housing; manage the administration of the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2002; be responsible for the new Building Act, including absorbing the functions and employees of the Building Industry Authority; and provide policy advice to the Government in relation to dispute resolution and regulatory responsibilities.

10 years ago — July 2009

An Uku house was to be built in Northland as part of a University of Auckland engineering research project into sustainable, low-cost housing options for rural Maori.

Civil Engineering PhD student John Cheah was working with the Ahipara community to develop the Uku house by the end of 2010. Uku, Maori for earth, is a building method which involves mixing earth and flax with cement to build quality, affordable housing.

Mr Cheah said Uku technology is ideal for rural Maori communities where land is owned by the local hapu, rather than individuals, and when financial barriers may prevent them from developing that land.

Ahipara residents had attended a workshop at the University’s Faculty of Engineering where they learned how to prepare the flax, how to mix it with earth and cement, and how to compact it into walls.

5 years ago — July 2014

The Commerce Commission was so concerned about construction industry cartels, price-fixing and bid-rigging that it launched a web site calling for whistleblowers.

Kate Morrison, the commission’s competition general manager, said the site — construction.comcom.govt.nz — went live partly as a result of Canterbury’s rebuild but also due to Auckland’s busy building sector.

“It is acknowledged internationally that corruption, fraud and anti-competitive practices occur after natural disasters,” Ms Morrison said.