Kaikōura earthquake recovery wins prestigious global engineering award


The NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance (NCTIR) have been recognised on the global stage, with the Kaikōura earthquake recovery work winning the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) People’s Choice Award.

The prestigious award, decided by public vote, recognises the world’s top civil engineering project of the year and sets a benchmark for industry excellence in design and construction. It reflects what the people who benefit from civil engineering efforts really think.

The Kaikōura recovery work was honoured last night at a ceremony in London after competing against a number of outstanding engineering projects from across the globe including The Tate Museum in St Ives, England; the Hyderabad Metro Rail Project, India; and The Forth Bridge Replacement Crossing, Scotland.

Seán Harris, ICE Director of Membership, said: “The Kaikōura earthquake recovery project is a worthy winner of the 2018 ICE People’s Choice Award and I am pleased to see the public recognise how the project directly transformed people’s quality of life. More than just a re-opening of road and rail systems, the project reconnected families and friends, and allowed businesses to welcome back tourism.

“One of many inspiring submissions this year, the project stands out globally as not only one of the finest examples of outstanding technical achievement but also highlights the importance of civil engineering in enabling social and economic progress.”

NZ Transport Agency Regional Director Steve Mutton, chair of the NCTIR Board, said it was a collective effort that resulted in engineering excellence, and every crew member – past and present - should feel proud of themselves.

“The team worked hard, under extremely difficult conditions, to rebuild and create a safe highway and rail line to reconnect Kaikōura and critical South Island transport links to the north and south, as well as benefiting the wider surrounding communities also still recovering from the effects of the earthquake.

“Hundreds of workers spent months living away from their families to reconnect State Highway 1 and get the rail line up and running. They faced a lot of adversity: pouring foundations on the sea coast around the tides through winter, abseiling teams removing boulders from precipitous cliff faces, and a small army of helicopter pilots with monsoon buckets drenching the cliffs to bring material down in the first few months.

“It was a civil engineering triumph to get the transport networks reopened by last Christmas. This award is recognition of all that effort.”

Brian Kirtlan, NCTIR Project Director said: “We’re delighted that so many people in the local community and across New Zealand, and the world, voted for us and we’d like to thank everyone for their support. The People’s Choice award is due recognition of the pride many New Zealanders felt when the transport networks were reconnected just a year after so much devastation.”

Work on SH1 along the Kaikōura coast will continue during 2019 as the rebuild of the road is completed (including making temporary works permanent) and a $200 million improvement package to improve the safety and resilience of the area is implemented. This includes slope protection, tunnels, seawalls and safe stopping areas.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is a professional membership body for civil engineers worldwide who work across government and industry. This year is the first year the award has been open to entrants from outside the UK, to mark ICE’s bicentenary.