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The upgrade programme is helping to stimulate the economy through its $8.7 billion investment in infrastructure.

Jobs are already being supported, with about 800 people developing projects and getting them ready for construction. In addition, the Papakura to Drury South construction will see about 750 people working on the project, with about 100 on site at any one time. 

The number of jobs will grow as more contracts are awarded to complete project designs, finalise construction plans and get workers on site to start construction. About 1400 direct jobs (full time equivalent) will be supported by the upgrade programme.

There will be benefits for the wider economy too, with a total of 5200 jobs supported in the wider supply chain and through the spending resulting from increased employment on the programme.

There’s a wide range of different jobs needed to deliver transport projects. On construction sites they include digger drivers, civil engineers and quantity surveyors. And to carry out the planning, design and consenting work the jobs range from ecologists to accountants, consent planners to risk specialists and engineers.

Here’s some of the people who are delivering the New Zealand Upgrade Programme.

Cherry Chadha – Waka Kotahi project manager, Penlink

Cherry Chadha’s project manager role involves identifying project risks and develops project plans. 

She says it’s very rewarding to be involved in the infrastructure project, as it will provide people with more reliable travel choices in north Auckland.

Genevieve Lacey – Waka Kotahi programme controls coordinator, programme management team

Genevieve’s programme controls coordinator role in the programme management team is her first full time job out of Victoria Wellington University.

“My role helps to provide a communication link between the projects, programme, the Ministry of Transport and the minister. Controls focuses on the cost, schedule and risks of projects, reporting and providing assurance that the programme is delivering what the Government wants.”

Sejal Khedakar – Downer junior quantity surveyor (QS), SH58 safety improvements project

Sejal has a degree in Civil Engineering from Mumbai, India but said that she was drawn to being a quantity surveyor as she loves the financial management aspect of the role and they are in very short supply in New Zealand.

Sejal said that she enjoys being part of the SH58 Safety Improvements project as working on a live highway is a challenge. She said the senior managers support and empower the younger members of the team and she is learning a lot from her colleagues.

Edward Husband – Alliance Programme Manager, Whakatipu Transport Programme Alliance

Edward is leading the delivery of a variety of transport and construction projects in conjunction with Queenstown Lakes District Council, Waka Kotahi and project partners Beca, Downer and WSP.

An engineer by trade, he wanted to get involved due to the scope of the project and the opportunity to bring multiple contractors and designers together.

Ashleigh Grose – Waka Kotahi lead consents planner, SH58 safety improvements project

Ashleigh’s role is to obtain the resource consents the project needs to. This includes identifying project effects and how they will be avoided, mitigated or managed, as well as submitting them to the council for approval.

“I’m proud to work on this project as the safety of road users is at the forefront of these works. Given that this stretch of the State Highway network had one of the worst safety records in the country, I am excited that the work I am doing will contribute to a reduction of deaths and serious injuries by up to 70%.”

Wendy Heynen – Quality Engineer, Downer, SH58 safety improvements project

Wendy is a quality engineer who has worked for Downer for 18 years in four different countries. Her role is to compile and manage the quality assurance documentation to ensure everything is built to the right standards and designs.

Wendy loves the scope and variety of the projects she’s been part of, from building runways in the Pacific to disaster recovery in New Zealand.

Bettina Reiter – Waka Kotahi Principal Risk Advisor, programme management team

Bettina’s work helps to identify risks that could impact the programme’s outcomes being achieved and makes sure there’s plans to mitigate them.

“This helps to provide confidence to the Waka Kotahi board and the Government that risks are being managed. I really enjoy contributing to a programme that will provide tangible results for New Zealand. The people I work with are highly skilled, friendly and real. Plus Waka Kotahi lives by its values.”

Josiah Simmonds – Design Manager, WSP, SH1/SH29 intersection project

A childhood chore has morphed into a career choice that is providing both challenge and fulfilment for Waikato water engineer, Josiah Simmonds.

Josiah is part of the project team delivering the new roundabout which replaces the dangerous T-intersection at Piarere, Waikato where State Highways 1 and 29 meet. 

Josiah, who is responsible for the stormwater design for the project, attributes his interest in water from childhood experiences. He spent eight years in Tajikistan where his parents were humanitarian aid workers. 

Josiah Simmonds standing in front of a road with traffic lights.

  • Read Josiah's story

    A childhood chore has morphed into a career choice that is providing both challenge and fulfilment for Waikato water engineer, Josiah Simmonds.

    Josiah is part of the project team delivering one of the 19 significant New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects on behalf of the Government. The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is investing $6.8 billion to save lives, get our cities moving and boost productivity in the country’s growth areas. The project Josiah is involved is the new roundabout which replaces the dangerous T-intersection at Piarere, Waikato where State Highways 1 and 29 meet. 

    Josiah, who is responsible for the stormwater design for the project, attributes his interest in water from childhood experiences. He spent eight years in Tajikistan where his parents were humanitarian aid workers. 

    “One of the big issues was access to clean drinking water,” he recalls. “I was in charge of cleaning and filling the water filter for the family home. As the water slowly trickled through, I would fill up the plastic bottles. I also had to clean the filters weekly and get rid of all the grime and muck. We have photos of us bathing in coffee-coloured water after big storm events – it probably made us dirtier! Many friends ended up with water-borne illnesses.”

    Josiah’s waka is Tainui, Raukawa is his iwi; Ngāti Huri is his hapu and Pikitū is his marae and so it was natural that the family returned to the Waikato and Josiah attended Cambridge High School. In his second year of engineering studies at Canterbury University, a successful application for a Tainui Opus scholarship opened many doors especially as the scholarship included summer intern placements at Opus (now WSP). 

    “I worked in the Hamilton Office in the Environmental Engineering team. I really got to understand what water engineering was then. I saw I could fit in and this is what I could end up doing.”

    Josiah secured a graduate position in the Christchurch WSP office, concentrating on the three waters; water, wastewater and stormwater and after nearly three years, transferred to the Hamilton office.

    “I found stormwater the far most interesting due to its complexity. You really must zoom out to look at the bigger picture. You think you are fixing something, but you might be causing another issue upstream or downstream. To me, it is not just about protecting against flooding, it is about protecting the receiving bodies, the rivers and the streams.”

    In December 2020, Josiah was excited to get the opportunity to be involved with the NZ Upgrade Project at Piarere and not just because of the interesting stormwater management design aspects.

    “It has personal significance to me,” he said. “My maunga is Maungatautari – it is so close you can virtually see the intersection from the mountain. My awa is the Waikato River. I want to do everything I can do to make sure we are protecting it. In terms of my tribe, we say it is our mauri, our lifeforce.”

    “This area is rich with history in terms of the geo-morphology and Māori legend. The roundabout will be at the junction where the river changed course all those years ago. Māori legend says this was due to a powerful karakia to send the river towards Taupiri mountain. The Waikato River used to head to the Firth of Thames, and now it bends around he piko he piko, towards Taupiri. You still have the remnants of the old river through that area. It is right at the Waikato catchment boundary, but it is a ‘fuzzy boundary’ as the full hydrological cycle has water travelling in different directions at different times - it is unpredictable.”

    The project team is about to submit the various concepts and reports needed for the resource consent application.  Josiah’s stormwater design sits alongside reports including ecology, archaeology and landscaping.

    These reports have been developed with our iwi partners. Josiah’s presentations and report have been very positively received by both Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and Ngāti Hauā representatives. Josiah was even described as a “culturalpreneur” by Norm Hill, from Ngāti Hauā.

    “That made me laugh,” said Josiah.  “But I like the term. I would like to think this is the way I work, looking at the bigger picture. It is how I think it ought to work, especially with stormwater which can’t be done in isolation. I am working with all the other disciplines to come up with a great final result. It is a really big multi-disciplinary approach, as it should be.”

    “I am really excited about having an outcome endorsed and favoured by the many stakeholders. We are very happy with the overall concept of how we are going to manage stormwater, in terms of where we are going to be discharging to, the treatment and protection against erosion and all the fundamentals of stormwater.”

    Not only has the team come up with a culturally appropriate solution, it meets the expectations of Waka Kotahi, in terms of its maintainability and cost-effectiveness.

    “The hope is that the story and the history of the area is woven into the solution,” says Josiah. “When the project is finished and we walk away, it is not only an upgraded intersection, it is safer for our community and will give credence to some of the history of the region.”

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