Spotlight on Erik Lopeti

Piritahi is an alliance of companies formed to deliver build-ready land for Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities. Working as an alliance means we have a mix of people from our participant companies with different backgrounds, expertise and strengths, enabling us to deliver our massive programme of works through collaboration. Erik joined Piritahi as a Community Liaison Advisor for the Roskill South neighbourhood. We caught up with Erik to learn more about his role at Piritahi and experience working in an alliance.

Tell us about your role

As Community Liaison Advisor, my role is about creating and maintaining long-term meaningful relationships between Piritahi and the local community. Our role is to make sure we’re being good neighbours and take residents on the journey with us as their neighbourhoods transform.

Liaising between our site teams and local residents involves a range of tasks on any given day. The majority of my time is spent keeping the community informed of the work that’s happening nearby to their homes and feeding back their concerns to our construction teams. We work collaboratively with Kāinga Ora’s community and engagement team and the development team from an early stage before residents are affected, right through to when construction is complete.

Effective early relationship management helps us manage a whole lot of unseen risk to the programme – this is one of the reasons our role is key to the alliance.

What does it mean to be good neighbour?

Being a good neighbour to me is all about respect. It’s being mindful of how we conduct our work activities and minimising disruption where possible. This includes noise, vibration, dust and traffic management. It’s ensuring our work sites are tidy and secure and speaking politely to residents, pedestrians, and motorists travelling through the neighbourhood. It’s informing our neighbours in advance of any upcoming work and promptly addressing their concerns. Sometimes being a good neighbour means adjusting our construction schedules in compassionate circumstances or using different methods to complete our work.

Our neighbours could be residents, businesses, community groups, local iwi, schools or childcare centres, religious groups or even sports clubs. It my responsibility to keep them all informed and get to know them just like we do for our own neighbours.

What are some of the challenges of your role?

In the Roskill Development, Piritahi is laying the groundwork for 11,000 new warm, dry homes. At the same time, we’re upgrading parks, public spaces, walking paths and undergrounding infrastructure. Sometimes the work we do is disruptive, and we have to acknowledge that we cannot always deliver good news. This is a difficult part of the job, especially if there is uncertainty or changes to the construction programme. I’m always mindful of how this can affect our neighbours because a lot of them work and study from their homes – especially since lockdown and the upheaval of schedules into the new normal. We have a few neighbours whose circumstances require special attention, so when things change this can really impact them. I am thankful to our construction teams who work closely with me to help reduce the impact as much as possible.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

For me it’s pretty simple, it’s the relationships I have built in the community. Relationship management is a key part of my role and it’s what I enjoy the most. It’s special when neighbours not only feel comfortable discussing works-related things, but also when they share updates about their own lives and families. It’s rewarding because it shows that there is trust there. The relationships that grow between our Community Liaison team and our neighbours often result in real friendships blossoming and I really treasure this aspect of my role. When neighbours consider you part of the community, it’s a humbling experience. It’s also a privilege to work alongside the Community Liaison team who value this just as much I do.  

What do you enjoy most about working in an alliance?

Day to day, I am in awe of how the alliance works and what we are undertaking. It’s a special experience because there is so much collaboration and commitment from everyone. When you get to see the results of this daily, like I do in the Roskill neighbourhood, it’s a cool thing.

The alliance has several projects of different scales going on across Auckland. This opens us up to different types of interactions with the local communities that other construction companies may not encounter. There’s so much value in these long-term relationships and in knowing our influence has the potential to extend far beyond construction. It’s a humbling thing and I respect this a lot.

Keen to join the team helping to lay the groundwork for more warm, dry homes to be built? Check out our careers page here.