Piritahi is doing things differently - Here’s how

In 2018, Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities’ urban development group (then HLC) set out to procure civil infrastructure and land development services capable of delivering an at-least $750 million programme of work over five years. But, there was a catch. Rather than engaging multiple consultants and contractors on traditional contracts, Kāinga Ora opted for an ‘alliance-style’ engagement instead. Today, that alliance is Piritahi.

What is an alliance?

An alliance is a group of companies led by a government agency, working together towards a common goal. The alliance structure comprises one owner-participant and two or more non-owner participants, operating together as a virtual organisation. In Piritahi’s case, Kāinga Ora is the owner-participant and master planner. Non-owner participants are design consultancies Harrison Grierson, Tonkin + Taylor and Woods, and civil contractors Dempsey Wood and Hick Bros Group.

Piritahi is at work delivering infrastructure projects in neighbourhoods across Auckland

Each participant in an alliance is bound to the same contract, meaning all parties are working to achieve the same outcomes, shouldering the same risks and sharing the same rewards. The result is a highly collaborative environment. Participants work together to identify and solve problems, rigorously control budgets, and resolve issues collectively instead of apportioning blame. For these reasons, alliance models are particularly useful for projects that are inherently risky and highly complex. 

Project alliance vs. programme alliance - what’s the difference?

An alliance delivery model is nothing new in Auckland. The second Manukau Harbour crossing and the Waterview Connection both utilised a purpose-built alliance of engineering experts to deliver these infrastructure projects. In both cases, these alliances were formed to deliver a single project and were largely disbanded upon completion.

Piritahi is different. It’s a programme alliance, meaning it was formed to deliver multiple projects within a large, evolving programme of work. A successful programme alliance requires wide-ranging capabilities and resources spanning the planning, design, consenting and construction phases, coupled with the flexibility and agility to navigate the complexities of delivering multiple projects in different locations concurrently.

Since its inception, Piritahi has planned, designed, coordinated, consented and is building infrastructure across Kāinga Ora’s large-scale urban developments. There are currently dozens of additional projects in the pipeline within its programme of work, and counting.

Programme alliances have the benefit of continuous improvement. Lessons learned from one project are applied to the next, and participant companies are incentivised to share knowledge and resources to achieve better outcomes, generate efficiencies and innovate.

For example, Piritahi is remediating residential land on sites across Auckland including Mt Roskill, Mangere and Northcote. Rather than following the standard industry approach - engaging testing companies, waiting on results, and then engaging contractors to strip or encapsulate soil within individual sites, Piritahi is optimising this end-to-end process by leveraging the value of its programme, upskilling in-house and purchasing state of the art equipment to speed up the operation. The result is an estimated cost saving of $5 million over the life of the programme in this discipline alone.

Piritahi is also leveraging global consents and has strong working relationships with council-controlled organisations (CCOs), helping them to deliver upon their infrastructure commitments to Auckland within Kāinga Ora’s development neighbourhoods, faster. For example, Piritahi is currently constructing Roskill South’s Freeland Reserve stormwater flood attenuation upgrade for Healthy Waters, and delivering Lake Road’s water main upgrade for Watercare in Northcote, among other infrastructure and public amenity projects.

New warm, dry homes under construction in Roskill South

Piritahi enables more homes to be built, faster.

Time and cost efficiencies are especially crucial for Kāinga Ora, who are working to meet the demand for more quality state homes and more affordable market housing in Auckland. Over the next 15 years, Kāinga Ora will build a mix of state, market and more affordable homes across its large-scale development areas - over 40,000 new homes in total. 

Land is a big component of the cost of housing. Before any new homes can be built, new and improved infrastructure must be designed and constructed. It’s a big job, and one that so often impedes getting houses built quickly.

Piritahi’s alliance structure means land development can be streamline and projects brought forward, thereby lowering land development costs and speeding up the availability of build-ready land. Time savings generate cost savings, which are ultimately reflected in the affordability of housing. 

Within the first year of Piritahi’s inception, we handed over 32 ‘superlots’ or 71,500 m2 of build-ready land, which equates to future yields totalling 468 new homes. Across its lifetime, Piritahi will deliver build-ready land and infrastructure for thousands of new, warm, healthy homes for New Zealanders, laying the groundwork for neighbourhoods that are better to live in and homes that are more affordable.