Christchurch innovation has come out on top as rebuild projects took home half the awards at a prestigious national engineering competition.

The ACENZ (Association of Consulting Engineers) INNOVATE Awards acknowledge and honour innovative and exceptional consulting engineering projects in New Zealand and Australasia.

Among them was the Silver Award won by Opus International Consultants for ‘The Southern Response Archaeological Risk Management project’, a collaborative response to the residential demolition, repair and rebuild work resulting from the Canterbury earthquakes.

Speaking about the award-winning Southern Response project, comprising of Opus International Consultants, Southern Response and Arrow International, Opus CEO Dr David Prentice said the rebuild’s complex challenges had inspired innovative solutions that will have a lasting impact across the whole of New Zealand.

The project, awarded a Silver for its complex Archaeological Investigations, was based around the need for a quick response after the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence which included a risk management plan, process and procedures for the statutory archaeological considerations required for the rebuild to proceed. With only 12 archaeologists in Christchurch, the developed plan made the most of scarce resources and provided immediate response for potential discoveries within 48-hours. 

The judges said the project was a game changer within New Zealand archaeology. Opus provided an effective protocol and system with a management process which has raised the bar of archaeological work in New Zealand, setting a new best practice for the industry all while delivering a high level of excellence in consulting practice and client support.

“Of course, it’s great to see the team’s efforts recognised in this way but it’s even more fantastic to see the amazing level of innovation coming out of Christchurch as the community continues to rebuild and recover,” Dr Prentice said.

“Working in partnership with representatives of Ngāi Tahu and Heritage New Zealand to protect and respect our history and cultural values was a key feature of their work. They helped establish systems and protocols for quickly and effectively responding to archaeological discoveries without delay to the ongoing constructions efforts. It’s hugely positive for New Zealand archaeology, being able to chart our past and document that for future generations to explore.”