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Last month, contractors, suppliers and clients of the civil construction industry, and government representatives came together in Hamilton for the joint Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) and Association of Consulting Engineers of New Zealand conference.

At the conference Teletrac Navman and CCNZ released the results of the 2018 Construction Industry Survey, which outlined the industry views on the current climate, issues and opportunities, and procurement.

From encouraging young people into the industry to using telematics technology on site, Smarter Together 2018 certainly was a forward-looking conference.

CCNZ kindly gave us permission to share their top 10 highlights with you:

Number one: A celebration of the industry

Seeing our people and stories receive the recognition they deserve on the big stage is fantastic. The opportunity to recognise the top people, projects and companies from the past year in the Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards, Z People Awards and Connexis Company Training Awards is a real privilege. Because of this, the Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards Dinner and Z Luncheon top our list as the number one highlight of the conference.

Number two: The launch of EPIC Careers in Infrastructure

Central Region Manager Ross Leslie said one of his biggest highlights was seeing the response of CCNZ members to EPIC at our humble display stand on the conference floor. “It was quite amazing to see how busy it was, and I was really glad to see the recognition from CCNZ members”, he said after the event.

EPIC was officially launched on the big stage by Minister of Transport Hon. Phil Twyford at the conference. Minister Twyford congratulated contractors on taking positive, proactive action to inspire people to join the industry, and voiced his support for the initiative.

Number three: A chance to be smarter together

Hosting a joint conference with our friends at ACENZ had to make the list. From chance conversations to concurrent presentations, we had the chance to share our perspectives and find opportunities to work ‘smarter together’. Concurrent session speakers aimed to share knowledge that was relevant to both parts of the industry, and the conference culminated with the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding between CCNZ and ACENZ on the big stage.

Number four: Gilbert Enoka’s inspiring presentation

The name on everybody’s lips following conference is Gilbert Enoka. The All Blacks Mental Skills Coach made an inspiring keynote presentation, giving insights into how to build a successful team and maintain morale. Terms such as ‘above the line’, ‘whinging up’ and ‘grey people’ became common after the presentation.

Number five: Sharing industry knowledge

Our annual conferences are a focal point for knowledge. One of the highlights was the release of the results of the 2018 Construction Industry Survey results, which gained widespread media attention. In addition to hearing from the Minister of Transport and Chief Executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency, the conference also included presentations from industry experts, and the launch of several new ConstructSafe assessments.

Number six: Amazing performances on stage

People speaking on stage and sharing their thoughts with an audience is a powerful thing, and there were many great speeches over the conference. Brian Warren took the podium on several occasions, and his presentation of Life Membership and Service Awards for Dave and Margo Connell was a high point, as were several of the heartfelt acceptance speeches during the awards. It’s not always easy to stand up on stage, and the speech that drew the loudest applause must have been Troy Calteaux’s speech at the acknowledgement of his title as National Excavator Operator of the Year. We loved it.

The conference MCs gave some unforgettable performances. Miriama Kamo was fantastic as presenter of the Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards Dinner (and joined us at the CCNZ dinner table, to our delight). Conference MC Greg Ward not only did a great job introducing conference sessions and speakers, but also blew the crowd away with his impersonation of Ozzy Osbourne at the ‘Battle of the Bands’ CablePrice Themed Dinner – something that’s sure to stay with everyone who saw him take the stage in character to perform two songs at full volume.

Number seven: The CablePrice Themed Dinner

Outrageous. Amazing. Spectacular. The CablePrice Themed Dinner is a legendary event for good reason, and gives everyone a chance to get on the dance floor and enjoy a good party. This year’s event was packed with Elvis impersonators, Blues Brothers, Village People and even Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was a crazy night, and we loved every moment of it.

Number eight: The people.

A conference should be about the people, and it was fantastic to get the chance to catch up with so many in person. The conference gave everyone the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances. To make those connections that cement good working relationships, and good friendships. From organised opportunities like the Canstaff President’s Welcome and Pub Quiz on the first night of conference to simply having a chat over breakfast, it was great to see people connect.

Number nine: Seeing the industry on show

Amazing technology and quality equipment are huge drawcards to the conference, and the sheer scale of the exhibition display areas and equipment on show never ceases to amaze us. From Mimico‘s weather balloon and the big gear on show from Gough Cat to helicopter and excavator simulators from Hirepool and Connexis, the gear on display was mind-blowing. This display wouldn’t have been possible without support from our conference sponsors. The New Zealand Equipment Group also featured, with the donation of an excavator and trailer for

Number ten: The field trip to the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway

The field trip to the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway was a really interesting way to round off the conference. Joint Venture partners HEB Construction and Fulton Hogan gave a fascinating account of the challenges and success stories from the project, including tales of crossing water tables and cutting through mountains, as well as relocating reptiles and controlling the local goat population.

The fog that had threatened to obscure the views of the project lifted as the tour bus arrived, and the sun arrived to shed some light on the work in progress while Project Director Tony Adams gave a great account of his team’s efforts.

Smarter Together 2018 was a successful conference where ideas were shared, issues were discussed, and stand-out people were celebrated. Thanks to CCNZ and AECNZ for hosting the event – and bring on 2019!

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James French is a Australasian Solutions Specialist, CE at Teletrac Navman.

James French is Australasian Solution Specialist for the construction industry at Teletrac Navman. James has worked for more than 20 years in the construction industry and shares his expert knowledge and passion for GPS asset tracking with construction businesses to fulfill their needs.