Working together all part of the plan

Teamwork makes the dream work, so the saying goes. This is certainly the case at Northcote Development, where people have recently moved into brand-new homes built on land Piritahi handed over to Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities’ build partners in mid-2019, ready for construction to begin.

Piritahi streamlines land development, laying the groundwork for neighbourhoods that are better to live in and enabling more homes to be built, faster. Piritahi is an alliance of civil engineering and construction companies, working on Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities’ large-scale urban redevelopments across Auckland. 

Scott Williams, 33, is Principal Specialist and was most recently Neighbourhood Design Manager for Northcote Development. He was one of Piritahi’s first employees, entering the alliance from Harrison Grierson. He originally trained as a town planner and subsequently moved into land development and project management. Ironically, this wasn’t a career progression he planned from the outset.

Scott’s current role sees him working across Kāinga Ora’s developments in Northcote, Mangere, Roskill and Oranga. “Because Northcote is so far advanced, I have quite a bit of experience when it comes to the whole design, construct, price and build [process], so it’s taking that knowledge and then sharing it with the other neighbourhood design managers and teams who are just starting to go through that process,” he says.

He enjoys the pace of work at Piritahi. “You see results. In one year, you would design and get approval from Council for a development and then almost immediately you see the build begin and then finished a few years later.” Projects move ahead swiftly because of the collaborative approach and the fact that “everyone is under the same roof”.

“During the design phase, we’ve got engineers, surveyors and planners all in the same room, as well as a constructor who’s itching to get out on site. Outside an alliance, you don’t always have a construction or commercial representative right there in the same office at the start of the job. With the alliance, from day one and from the initial brief, the constructor, construction team members and commercial team members are part of the group that get the project off the ground.”

Team members work together for a common goal. “We all rely on each other to succeed. Every organisation within the alliance, every team and every team member right through to foreman relies on each other to succeed. And that means we just have to work things out and get the job done,” Scott says.

Projects and communities have benefitted from this collaborative, streamlined approach. “Right from day-dot there’s a neighbourhood construction manager who’s allocated to a job. They are intertwined along with the community and stakeholder team and the design engineers. They bring their construction experiences from what they’ve had in other neighbourhoods as well, so whilst there might be a construction manager in Northcote, he’s always talking to the team in Oranga and Roskill and all of that information flows into those design discussions and out on to site.”

Knowledge is shared about location services, traffic management, and community engagement. “There’s always quality information flowing around.”

Piritahi’s scale and combined resources have allowed it to take on infrastructure, too. “Traditionally this would be procured and built by CCOs (council-controlled organisations) but because of our scale and our ability, we’re able to take on those CCO projects, which are key in unlocking some of that land for housing.” 

As the first land development alliance in the country, Piritahi offers its people the potential for a large amount of variety.

“There is a lot of opportunity at Piritahi. You can sort of go anywhere you want, within reason. The amount of experience you get coming here and being exposed to contractors, commercial teams, quantity surveyors and the community team in the same building is huge, especially for a graduate. I think you become a more well-rounded professional with that multi-disciplinary experience,” Scott says.

Here's an update from Scott on projects in Northcote Development

  • Land remediation is about 80% finished. We’re currently in the early stage of designing for the final phase of Northcote Development, stage 5
  • Tonar Street stormwater outfall – the tunnel-boring machine has started for the new stormwater pipe to service Northcote into the future
  • The Lake Road watermain is progressing well. We’re working from the southern end to the northern end, so we’re heading towards Fraser Avenue at the moment. The likely completion date is quarter four of 2020 
  • Greenslade Reserve is well underway, with the underground structures currently under construction
  • Earthworks and Civil works for Stage 4 start in October/November 2020
  • The Awataha Greenway Stage 1 construction begins in October. This will be an exciting natural amenity for the community