Project staff recognised at National Awards for Women in Construction


Two staff on the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project have gained recognition at this year’s National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Awards.

Project Earthworks Manager Clare Miller and Graduate Environmental Advisor Oriwa Curtis were finalists at the awards in the Excellence in Leadership (Site Based) and Student categories respectively.

The national awards celebrate women working in the New Zealand construction sector, with a record 238 entries being received for the 2023 event.

Both Clare and Oriwa – who are employed by Waikanae-based Goodmans Contractors – were “highly commended” in their categories, each receiving a trophy in recognition of the achievement.

A civil engineer by trade, Mrs Miller is charged with ensuring the project’s earthworks target of 6 million cubic metres is achieved. With more than 5.8 million cubic metres of earth moved to date, the project is in a good position to achieve the target this year.

Judges praised Mrs Miller for her leadership qualities and the respect she had across all levels of the project:

“[Clare] is exceptional in her ability to get people to work for her, and the team wants to perform for her. She's a fantastic boss and has real leadership qualities.”

Ms Curtis started on the project as an Environmental labourer and was quickly offered the Graduate Advisor role, which involves resource consent compliance work, environmental monitoring and planning. Ms Curtis balances her work with studying for a Bachelor of Applied Science at the Open Polytechnic. 

The judges were impressed with Oriwa’s “grit, ability to learn on the job, problem solve and take initiative”:

“While on her academic and work journey, she is also raising her young daughter and working alongside iwi and volunteering with rangatahi from Dannevirke High School. At their request, Oriwa is to work with kaimahi and kaumātua to be the recipient of mātauranga, passed down to the younger generation through the tikanga of oral tradition and place-based learning.”

Te Ahu a Turanga project spokesman, Grant Kauri, congratulated both women on their awards, and praised their ongoing contributions to the project.

“Clare and Oriwa are both fantastic members of the Te Ahu a Turanga team, and they are representative of the many talented wahine working on our project and on construction projects across New Zealand.”

Mr Kauri said events like the NAWIC Awards were important for making construction a more accessible and attractive career pathway for women.

“We acknowledge that at 15 per cent of the construction workforce, women remain under-represented in the sector. As we have clearly seen from the calibre of entrants to the NAWIC Awards, they have a huge contribution to make to the industry.”

Women make up about 16 per cent of staff working on the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway.

Director for Goodmans Contractors, Marianne Archer, said the company was proud of its staff members’ acknowledgments at the awards.

“Both Clare and Oriwa are thoroughly deserving of the recognition given to them. They are extremely hard workers, leading our people by example, and inspiring all those around them. Goodmans is extremely grateful to have them as a part of our amazing team.”

For more information on the awards, go to link)

Earthworks Manager Clare Miller, left, and Graduate Environmental Advisor Oriwa Curtis, right, both work on the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project.